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Players learn like everyone else: on TV

Area products playing for Steve Spurrier didn't see the Gator coach's resignation coming.

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 5, 2002

TAMPA -- Had Florida offensive tackle Shannon Snell not had his television tuned to ESPN on Friday morning, there's no telling how or when he would have learned that his coach, Steve Spurrier, had resigned.

"The thing was, he didn't even mention anything about it during the game (the Orange Bowl on Wednesday night), the week, all season, that he was thinking about leaving," the sophomore from Hillsborough High said. "I don't know what the hell is going on."

Junior receiver Reche Caldwell, the former Jefferson High standout, was more stunned than angry when his fellow receiver, Jabar Gaffney, called him early in the afternoon and broke the news.

"It was crazy," he said. "I had no idea, no indication that he was leaving. We're both shocked. I think everybody is. The coaches. I know the players had no idea he was leaving."

Offensive tackle Mike Pearson was equally surprised when, like Snell, he saw a news report on television.

"It was all over the place," he said, adding his now former coach should be entitled to make his decision when he thought he needed to and not necessarily if the timing permitted him to call a team meeting.

UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said he and Spurrier plan to meet with the players Monday.

"The players aren't here," Foley said. "School doesn't start until Monday and trying to call 100 players is obviously impossible. That's the difficult part about it because a lot of players are going to read it in the paper or hear through the radio or what have you.

"I think Steve wants to face the players on Monday and I want to meet with them at the same time to let them know we're going to get a coach in here to help them achieve their dreams and their goals that they had when they arrived."

Foley said he was unsure how this would affect player's decisions on their future.

Caldwell, one of six underclassmen who might declare for the draft, admitted a coaching change will, to some extent, affect his decisionmaking process.

"I'm sure whoever they bring in, he'll be a good coach," Caldwell said. "I would have loved to play another year for him, but you never know."

-- Times staff writers Mike Readling and Antonya English contributed to this report.

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