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Ron Zook
  • University of Florida Gator
    Head Coach
    (As of Jan. 7, 2005)

Coaching Experience
2002-04 Florida (Head Coach)
2000-01 New Orleans Saints (Defensive Coordinator)
1999 Kansas City Chiefs (Defensive Backs Coach)
1996-98 Pittsburgh Steelers (Special Teams Coach)
1995 Florida (Associate Head Coach/ Special Teams Coordinator/
Nickelbackers and Strong Safeties Coach)
1994 Florida (Special Teams Coordinator/ Nickelbackers)
1991-93 Florida (Defensive Coordinator/ Defensive Backs)
1988-90 Ohio State (Defensive Backs)
1987 Virginia Tech (Defensive Coordinator/ Assistant Head Coach)
1984-86 Tennessee (Defensive Backs)
1983 Kansas (Defensive Coordinator)
1981-82 University of Cincinnati (Defensive Coordinator)
1978-80 Murray State (Defensive Backs)
1976-77 Orrville High School

Ron Zook, a high-energy coach with 27 years of coaching experience at the collegiate and professional level, served three years as the Florida head coach from 2002-2004.

Posting an overall mark of 23-14 and 16-8 in Southeastern Conference action, Zook led UF to three consecutive bowl appearances and a share of the 2003 SEC East Division title. Zook's 12-3 record vs. the SEC Eastern Division during his three years tied for the best in the league during that time frame. He tallied six wins against ranked teams away from Gainesville, the top total in the nation in his three-year stretch, and he became only the third coach in the 70-year history of the Southeastern Conference to lead his teams to a January bowl game in his first two years. Zook's 23 wins at Florida was the second top total among active coaches nationally completing the third year at the helm of their program.

With a reputation as a player's coach with boundless energy and a relentless work ethic, Zook's players always matched his energy and never-give-up attitude. Zook's first team won four of its last five regular season games and his second team won five of its last six. The 2004 unit won three in a row to close the regular season. UF's eight regular season losses during his last two years were decided by a total of 45 points (5.6 per game) and five of the eight losses came to teams ranked in the top 15 nationally. Twelve of his final 24 games were decided in the final two minutes of action.

Zook's tireless efforts began on the recruiting front at Florida. In just three years, Zook signed 10 Parade All-Americans after Florida had inked 20 in the previous 12 years. He signed six in the 2003 class, just one shy of the school record set by the 1987 class. The 2003 class ranked among the top three nationally.

Zook's 2004 squad featured just eight returning starters, the fifth lowest total among the 117 Division I team and featured the youngest defense in the SEC with eight freshmen or sophomore starters. Despite having three games affected by Hurricanes and playing 11 consecutive weeks of football, the Gators secured their 17th consecutive season of winning football, the longest active streak in the SEC. Florida saved its best for last in 2004, defeating No. 8 Florida State, 20-13, to become the first UF team to win in Tallahassee since 1986. Florida finished the regular season leading the SEC in six team categories, including the top scoring offense, the top passing offense and the top team in total offense. Florida became only the second team in SEC history to have the top rusher in the league, the top passer, the leading receiver and the leading scorer.

Zook's 2003 squad captured a share of the Southeastern Conference East Division and defeated three ranked opponents in consecutive games for the first time in school history. Florida owned wins over two of the top 12 teams in the BCS Championship, defeated both teams that played for the SEC Championship and downed the eventual national champion for just the second time in school history. Florida's schedule, which ranked second-toughest in the nation, included a school-record tying seven ranked opponents. With a squad featuring 45 players seeing action in their first collegiate game and utilizing 14 true freshmen, Zook's team played in a January bowl game and finished the season ranked 24th in the final Associated Press Poll (25th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll).

Zook's first season in Gainesville produced wins over Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia and a perfect record in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division. Zook became the only first year coach in Gator history to defeat two top-five teams in his first season in Gainesville with a win over fourth-ranked Tennessee and fifth-ranked Georgia. Against a schedule that ranked sixth-toughest in the nation, the Gators ranked 24th in the final ESPN/USA Today Poll and extended their school record of consecutive January bowl appearances to 10. The 2002 Gator offense, which led the Southeastern Conference in total offense and passing, set school records for most offensive plays, passing attempts and completions. Florida's pass defense ranked seventh-best in the nation, while just two quarterbacks totaled more than 200 yards passing during the regular season.

He came to the Gators from a position as defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, where his units led the NFL in quarterback sacks over the 2000-2001 period with 119, and ranked third in the NFC in total defense in 2000. He coached for three NFL franchises (Pittsburgh, Kansas City and New Orleans), including division championship teams with the Steelers in 1996-1997 and the Saints in 2000.

On the collegiate level, Zook coached on five SEC championship teams (four at Florida and one at Tennessee), and at four schools that are members of college football's premier conferences (SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East). He has participated in 15 bowl games (two as a player, 13 as a coach).

He was no stranger to the Gators or the state of Florida, having spent five years (1991-95) as an assistant coach at UF during one of the most successful five-year periods in school history.

Over this period the Gators recorded an overall record of 52-11-1, including a 38-5 SEC record, while winning four SEC championships (1991, '93,'94, '95). They played in five bowl games, including three Sugar Bowls and one Fiesta Bowl, ranked in the nation's top 10 in final polls each year and played in the 1996 National Championship game in the Fiesta Bowl.

Zook served as defensive coordinator and secondary coach from 1991-93, special teams coordinator and nickelbacks coach in 1994. In 1995 he was associate head coach, special teams coordinator and coached the nickelbacks and strong safeties.

As the defensive coordinator from 1991-93, Florida was the only school to rank among the SEC's top four teams in rush defense all three seasons (first in\ 1991, fourth in 1992 and second in 1993), and ranked among the nation's top 10 teams in rush defense in 1991 and 1993. As special teams coordinator from 1994-95, the Gators blocked 12 total kicks and the 1994 unit blocked a school-record five punts.

Zook's college coaching career started in 1978 at Murray State under head coach Mike Gottfried, who is now an ESPN college football analyst. Gottfried has followed his career for over two decades.

"I've known Ron for over 20 years and I've closely watched him since the very beginning of his college coaching career, when he was with me at Murray State," said Gottfried. "He has a strong desire and will to win, and to do things the right way. He is very passionate about coaching and helping young people. He has built outstanding relationships with players wherever he has coached. I feel he is unquestionably one of the very best recruiters in all of college football.

"Ron would rank among the top three coaches of all the assistant coaches I had the privilege of having on my staffs over the years because he is so well rounded and brings so much to the table in terms of what it takes to be a successful coach," said Gottfried. "I believe he ranks with people like Frank Beamer, Bob Stoops, Larry Coker and Ralph Friedgen as long-time assistants who deserved a chance to be a head coach, and I think Ron will be just as successful as those coaches have proven to be."

Zook is a graduate of Miami of Ohio (1976 B.S. in Comprehensive Science). He played as a defensive back there from 1972-75 and was captain of the 1975 team. Miami posted a 32-1-1 record during that period and beat the Gators in the 1973 Tangerine Bowl. They won the Mid-American Conference each year.

He is married to the former Denise Baugh, and they have two daughters, Jacquelyn and Casey. He was born on April 28, 1954 in Loudonville, Ohio.

YEAR-BY-YEAR RESULTS
Year School Overall Record SEC Bowl Final Polls
2002 Florida 8-5 6-2 Outback NR/24th
2003 Florida 8-5 6-2 (T1st E) Outback 24/25
2004 Florida 7-4 4-4 Peach NR/25th
Total 3 years 23-14 16-8 3 Bowls  
Polls listed as AP/Coaches

CAREER COACHING NOTES

  • Twenty seven years of coaching experience (21 collegiate, six professional)
  • Coached on five SEC Championship teams (four at Florida, one at Tennessee) and three NFL Divisional Championship teams
  • Participated in 15 bowl games (two as a player and 13 as a coach)
  • Coached at four schools that are members of college football's premier conferences (SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East)

NFL COACHING CAREER (1996-2001)

  • Six years coaching experience
  • Coached for three NFL franchises (Pittsburgh, Kansas City and New Orleans)
  • Coached on three NFL Division Champions (1996 and 1997 Steelers - AFC Central, 2000 Saints - NFC West)

Pittsburgh Steelers (1996-98)
Served as special teams coach during his entire tenure…During his three seasons Zook's squad did not allow a blocked punt and finished 1998 as the NFL's third best kickoff coverage group, permitting just 8.9 yards per return…Helped the Steelers to AFC Central Division Championships in both 1996 and 1997 under Bill Cowher.

Kansas City Chiefs (1999)
Coached defensive backs…Kansas City posted 25 interceptions which included a stretch of 11 consecutive games with at least one interceptions, the Chiefs' first such streak in over a decade. ..Kansas City led the NFL in defensive TDs with nine, six of which were registered by Zook's defensive backs…The Chiefs tied for the best record in the AFC West with Seattle but lost the tiebreaker and did not qualify for the playoffs.

New Orleans Saints (2000-01)
Served as defensive coordinator both seasons... Zook's defense led the NFL in 2000 in quarterback sacks (66) and ranked third in the NFC in total defense and fourth against both the rush and the pass in the NFC…Four members of Zook's defense (Mark Fields, La'Roi Glover, Joe Johnson and Keith Mitchell) were selected to the 2001 Pro Bowl...The Saints won the NFC West Championship in 2000 and defeated the defending Super Bowl Champion St. Louis Rams in the first round of the playoffs for the Saints' first ever playoff victory in the franchise's 35 year history…The 2001 Saints ranked second in the NFL in quarterback sacks (53)…Two of his Saints players (La'Roi Glover and Sammy Knight) were chosen for the 2002 Pro Bowl.

COLLEGIATE COACHING CAREER (1978-95, 2002-04)

  • 21 years of collegiate coaching experience (Florida, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Kansas, Cincinnati, Murray State)
  • Participated in 15 bowl games (two as a player, 13 as a coach)
  • Coached on five SEC Championship teams (four at Florida, one at Tennessee)
  • Coached at four schools that are members of college football's premier conferences (SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East)

Florida (1991-95)
A prominent member of a Gator staff that compiled one of the most successful five-year periods in school history. Zook served as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach from 1991-93, special teams coordinator and nickelbacks coach in 1994 and in his final year, 1995, he was associate head coach, special teams coordinator and also coached the nickelbacks and strong safeties. Over that five year period of time, Florida accomplished the following:

  • Recorded a overall record of 52-11-1 including a 38-5 SEC record
  • Won four SEC titles (1991, '93, '94, '95) · Won four SEC East titles (1992-95)
  • Played in four SEC Championship Games (1992-95) with three victories (1993-95)
  • Played in five bowl games including four majors (three Sugar Bowls, one Fiesta Bowl)
  • Ranked in the nation's top 10 of the final polls each of those five years, including a final ranking of No. 2 in 1995.
  • Played in the 1995 National Championship Game at the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.
  • From 1991-93 as the defensive coordinator, Florida was the only school to rank among the SEC's top four teams in rush defense all three seasons (first in 1991, fourth in 1992, second in 1993). The Gators ranked among the nation's top 10 teams in rush defense in 1991 and 1993.
  • As special teams coordinator from 1994-95, the Gators blocked 12 total kicks and the 1994 unit blocked a school-record five punts.

PLAYING CAREER
Played at Miami of Ohio (1972-75), three-year letter winner, 1975 captain, Miami team posted a 32-1-1 record from 1973-75 and won the Mid-American Conference title in each of those three seasons.

PERSONAL INFORMATION
Birthdate: April 28, 1954
Hometown: Loudonville, Ohio
Education: 1976- B.S. in Comprehensive Science from Miami of Ohio
Family: Married to the former Denise Baugh and they have two children- Jacquelyn (21) and Casey (17)

Bowl Games as a Coach/Player
1973: Tangerine 1990: Liberty
1974: Tangerine 1992: Sugar
1975: Tangerine 1992: Gator
1984: Sun 1994: Sugar
1986: Sugar 1995: Sugar
1986: Liberty 1996: Fiesta
1989: Hall 2003: Outback
    2004: Outback
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