Friday December 31, 2010Addazio Prepares For Emotional Sendoff With Fond Memories
Urban Meyer’s final game as Florida’s head coach is the dominant storyline heading into Saturday’s Outback Bowl against Penn State.
One of the byproducts of Meyer’s departure is that this will be the final game at Florida for some of his assistants as well, most notably offensive coordinator Steve Addazio.
Addazio was introduced as Temple’s new head coach a week ago and will immediately turn his attention to that job once Saturday’s game ends. But on Thursday afternoon, an emotional Addazio talked about his final practice with the Gators and his time in Gainesville with Meyer.
“When you go through that, it’s a pretty emotional thing – you kind of travel through the years,’’ Addazio said. “I’ve been here six years. You get close to these kids and it’s hard to say goodbye to them. They are like family.’’
Addazio joined Meyer’s staff as offensive line coach and quickly formed a strong bond with his new boss. When Dan Mullen left after the 2008 season to become Mississippi State’s coach, Addazio was promoted to associate head coach/offensive coordinator.
His time in that role included leading the program when Meyer stepped away due to health concerns last winter. While he is excited about his first head coaching job at Temple, Addazio said this week has been all about the Gators.
He has enjoyed spending time with the players this week and his fellow assistants. He recalled Thursday his first time stepping into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – the 2004 high school state football championships were being played that day – and immediately being greeted by a hug from Meyer.
“I really felt fortunate on being here,’’ Addazio said.
As he prepares to leave, Meyer’s influence is something he will take with him to Temple.
“I just love him,’’ Addazio said. “We've been through a lot together. He's a great football coach, a great human being. He's done a lot for my family. He's done a lot for this football program. And he's brought a lot of unbelievable moments to The Gator Nation. He makes coming to work every day great.
“You reflect on that a little bit, and that’s powerful stuff. He brought me here, and life's all about relationships and being around the people that you want to be around. And I couldn't have been around anybody better.’’
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin returned to practice Thursday, showing no signs of spending Monday night and most of Tuesday at Tampa General Hospital with a case of mild gastritis.
“I'm getting a little older, so I better make sure I take care of myself,’’ Austin said. “Plus, I've got some guys I've got to get coached for the game Saturday. I want to make sure that I'm there for those guys.’’
Unlike Addazio, Austin remains uncertain about his immediate future with incoming coach Will Muschamp taking over the program.
Regardless of what happens, Austin is focused on ending the season with a win in the Outback Bowl and said that if Muschamp is interested in talking to him about staying at Florida, he is interested in exploring that option.
“As a coach, when you sign up in this profession, you sign up to help the young men that you are coaching to get better, no matter what the situation is,’’ Austin said Thursday. “No matter what the situation is, our goal was to help our guys get better to give them a chance to win.’’
MEYER’S FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE
Meyer is speaking to the media Friday morning for the final time before Saturday’s game. He has appeared relaxed this week and enjoyed his time around Penn State coach Joe Paterno, one of his coaching idols.
As a 21-year-old aspiring coach, Meyer once sent Paterno a letter asking about a possible graduate assistant position at Penn State. He was told he needed more experience and has joked more than once this week about reapplying.
“I’ve known Coach Paterno longer than he’s known me,’’ Meyer said earlier this week. “You pick your idols and pick the guys you want to pattern – you like to do it their way. Obviously, Coach Paterno is at the top of that list.’’
McCARNEY STOPS BY
Former Gator defensive line coach Dan McCarney attended Thursday’s practice. McCarney left after the regular-season finale at Florida State to become head coach at North Texas.
McCarney spoke to the players and talked individually with his defensive linemen during the senior sendoff.
Defensive graduate assistant Anthony Weaver is serving as defensive line coach for Saturday’s game.
As of Thursday evening, there are still tickets remaining for Saturday’s 25th Anniversary Outback Bowl.
For more on purchasing tickets, click here.