Florida Football 2010 Closure: Before Moving Forward, Once Last Look Back

D. PritchardContributor IApril 1, 2011

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 11:  Quarterback John Brantley #12 of the Florida Gators attempts a pass during a game against the South Florida Bulls at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 11, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

With the recent hire of Zach Azzanni at Western Kentucky University, all of Urban Meyer’s assistants have officially moved on and found employment.

Azzanni, who was hired at Western Kentucky to be the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, joins a program that has not seen much success since moving to Division 1-A.

In fact, when you start looking at where all of Urban Meyer’s assistants landed, it really does not take long to figure why the 2010 season was such a disaster. 

When Urban Meyer arrived in Gainesville, he brought an unbelievable staff with him, which was raided year-after-year by other programs and NFL teams.

The first significant loss was co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who took the job as linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens in 2006. Mattison would eventually replace Rex Ryan as the defensive coordinator for the Ravens, and was most recently hired as the new defensive coordinator for the Michigan Wolverines.

Dan Mullen would follow in 2008, taking over for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Mullen, who is brash, confident yet sometimes arrogant, has been extremely successful in Starkville. Even upsetting the Gators at home in 2010.

Charlie Strong would follow after the 2009 season, as he replaced Steve Kragthorpe at Louisville. Strong, in one year, has produced a lot of buzz and excitement around the program.

There have been other notable coaches as well. John “Doc” Holiday is now the head coach at Marshall, John Hevesy followed Dan Mullen to Starkville and is an assistant coach at Mississippi State, and Billy Gonzalez is the passing game coordinator for LSU.

With this staff on board and the talent the Gators had on the roster, it’s no surprise the Gators experienced so much success.

However, if you fast forward to the 2010 season and review the staff, it becomes very clear why the Gators were outcoached most of the year.

Of the previous staff, Dan McCarney and Steve Addazio are now head coaches, but not at an SEC school, an ACC school or even a Big East school.

McCarney took over at North Texas and Addazio at Temple. For those of you who are wondering, North Texas plays in the Sun Belt Conference, and Temple plays in the Mid American Conference, better known as the MAC.

North Texas has won two bowl games in its history, Temple has only been to three bowl games in its history. In all, three former Gator coaches ended up at Temple: Steve Addazio as the head coach, Scott Loeffler as the offensive coordinator and Chuck Heater as the defensive coordinator.

There were some good hires or hires you would expect from the staff at the University of Florida.

Drayton was hired as wide receivers coach at Ohio State. Teryl Austin was hired as defensive backs coach for the Baltimore Ravens, and, as we all know, D.J. Durkin and Brian White were retained by Will Muschamp. However, none of these hires are earth shattering. None were hired in coordinator roles or as head coaches.

It appears Urban Meyer did not have much of the staff at all in the end.

When you win two national championships in your first four years, programs start calling and coaches are stolen away. Granted, Meyer was responsible for hiring the replacements; unfortunately, the chemistry just was not there in the end.

The list of coaches that Urban Meyer had noted through his career as coaches he wanted on his staff had come, stayed, won but ultimately moved on.

They moved on to head coaching jobs and NFL positions and advanced their careers. And each time, the Gators staff weakened, a little here, a little there, until most of the talent, creativity and ambition was gone. The attrition did finally stop, however. At last, it appears there just was not anything left to pick from.

As we look back one last time and put 2010 behind us, it should all seem very clear as to why the Gators struggled.

It was not simply due to inconsistent quarterback play or a lack of quality linebacker play. It was not because the freshmen class were overrated or the running game was nonexistence. Of course, all of this did play a role.

However, in the end, the Gators had SEC talent, SEC facilities, an SEC stadium and an SEC head coach, but a MAC coaching staff.