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UF may face crucial offseason losses

Assistant Buddy Teevens, several underclassmen may leave, but QB Rex Grossman's job is secure.

By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 4, 2002


MIAMI -- One day after capping its 2001 season with a nationally televised 56-23 win over Maryland in the Orange Bowl, Florida began the offseason with one of its coaches in line for a new job and another seemingly secure in his and with the possibility of losing its backup quarterback and six of its nonsenior starters.

Assistant offensive coordinator Buddy Teevens is a candidate for the head-coaching position at Stanford, vacated when Tyrone Willingham left for Notre Dame. Teevens also interviewed for the job at Vanderbilt but removed his name from consideration two weeks ago.

Stanford athletic director Ted Leland hired Teevens as coach at Dartmouth from 1987-91.

"Buddy is up for the Stanford job," Spurrier said. "He got a call from there. Buddy Teevens is a hot commodity."

Despite being pulled from the Orange Bowl starting lineup for a curfew violation, Rex Grossman's position as starting quarterback is not in jeopardy. Grossman was 20-for-28 for 248 yards and four touchdowns after sitting out the first quarter and nine minutes of the second.

"I would say Rex is the starting quarterback, no question," Spurrier said. "As long as he goes to class, as long as he goes to workouts and as long as he passes. You got to keep doing what you are supposed to be doing to keep any starting position."

With that declaration, it became more likely backup Brock Berlin will transfer. The sophomore from Louisiana started Wednesday night's game and was 11-for-19 for 196 yards and two interceptions.

"Nothing that's happened has changed anything," Berlin said after the game. "Things have pretty much stayed the same. I'm going to take the next couple of days to be with my family and make my decision."

Spurrier said Thursday that Berlin told him before the game he likely would leave.

As for sophomore receiver Jabar Gaffney and five juniors, receiver Reche Caldwell, offensive tackle Mike Pearson, linebacker Mike Nattiel, tight end Aaron Walker and cornerback Lito Sheppard, all said they would decide during the next several days whether they will return next season or opt for the NFL.

Spurrier tried to end speculation that defensive coordinator Jon Hoke would not return. Rumors that Hoke's job might be in jeopardy began after Tennessee manhandled the defense Dec. 1 in the Vols' 34-32 win.

Asked if Hoke would return, Spurrier said he hoped so.

"I thought Jon had a great year," he said. "We led the conference in almost every category defensively. I don't know if we got sloppy (Wednesday) night. We had guys in position. I thought Jon called an excellent game. He called a good game in the Tennessee game. We don't really do as well as we should sometimes, but I think Jon has really improved. He had an excellent year as a defensive coordinator."

With two wins standing between it and a shot at the national championship, Florida faltered against Tennessee. The victory over Maryland ensured the Gators of a Top 5 finish and a 10-win season, but it will be remembered as one in which expectations fell short.

"It was a good win," Spurrier said. "It was a good way to finish up the season. We salvaged a good season. Certainly wouldn't call it a great year, but it was a good year for the Gators."

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