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Florida Gators

Faith, family help Zook endure

By ANTONYA ENGLISH, KEITH NIEBUHR
Published October 31, 2004

JACKSONVILLE - Throughout his tumultuous 21/2 seasons, Florida coach Ron Zook has said he has been sustained by the support of his family and his religious faith.

He was fired Monday, but faith continues to sustain the Zook household.

Saturday, Zook's wife, Denise, their daughters and family members of some Gator assistants wore T-shirts in support of their loved ones.

The front of Denise Zook's shirt read, "Team Zook." On the back, the Bible verse Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me."

Denise Zook told several well-wishers who surrounded her that it had been a tough week "but we are doing just fine."

COSTLY INJURIES: As if Florida's defense didn't have enough problems before Saturday, it got worse.

Linebacker Channing Crowder tore a ligament in his right foot and left with 3:52 to go in the first quarter. He did not return and emerged from the locker room after halftime on crutches and wearing a cast. Crowder led Florida and the SEC in tackles with 67 entering Saturday.

In addition, running back DeShawn Wynn hurt his groin and linebacker Earl Everettsustained a concussion.

The trio's status had not been determined.

Georgia also lost a key player. Free safety Thomas Davis sprained his right knee with 5:57 left in the second quarter and did not return.

IN THE RECORD BOOK: With his three touchdown passes Saturday, Georgia quarterback David Greene has 67, tying Eric Zeier's school record.

After the game, Greene pleaded with officials to give him the game ball. He left the field, jubilant and carrying it.

"I think he just wanted to get out of there," Greene said of the official who finally gave in.

"I'm hanging on to that ball. I'll put it in my room somewhere."

Georgia coach Mark Richt might have something to say about that.

"I don't want to break any NCAA rules," he said, joking.

SPURRIER WATCH: With Zook's imminent departure, the debate over if former coach Steve Spurrier will return continues. ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso said Saturday that Spurrier can have the job if he wants it.

Spurrier already has sent word to Florida officials that he's interested. And athletic director Jeremy Foley has confirmed Florida and Spurrier have agreed to talk.

IT NEVER STOPS: Sid Sutton of Tallahassee sold T-shirts outside the stadium before the game with the words "Zook Happens" on the front and "You're Fired" on the back. They went for $10.

"I've gotten both responses," Sutton said. "I've sold some to Gator fans, and Georgia fans like them."

THE OTHER OLD BALL COACH: Former Georgia coach and athletic director Vince Dooley, who made a career out of beating the Gators, was all smiles after Saturday's game. He went 201-77-10 from 1964-88, winning one national championship (1980) and six SEC titles. Against Florida, he was 17-7-1.

"I'm very proud of the team," Dooley said. "I'm proud of Mark Richt, of David Greene, of all of them really. It's been a long time coming. I'm happy."

CONNECTED TO THE PAST: Mike Bobo, quarterback for Georgia the last time it beat Florida (1997), is the Bulldogs' quarterbacks coach.

[Last modified October 31, 2004, 00:57:29]


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