clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ron Zook Emerges As Potential Defensive Coordinator for LSU

Current scuttlebutt in the LSU defensive coordinator search is beginning to focus on the former Florida and Illinois head coach.

Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports lists Zook as a candidate "on the radar" for the LSU defensive coordinator vacancy. He is currently serving as an Assistant Special Teams coach for the Green Bay Packers.

Zook is an interesting name, that will draw a lot of mockery from SEC fans, who remember his poor run as UF head coach. Zook then found his way to Illinois, where he actually brought the Illini to the Rose Bowl, but was eventually fired when the Illini lost six consecutive games to close their season in 2011. Zook was most certainly not a success as a head coach, but it's interesting to note that Zook's replacement, Tim Beckman, has put up a worse record in his first three seasons than Zook managed in any three-year span during his seven years with the school.

That said, Zook wouldn't be coming to LSU to be the HC. What could we expect from him as a defensive coordinator? It's not a position he's filled since 2000-2001, when he served in that capacity for the New Orleans Saints. In 2000, the Saints ranked top 10 in total defense, though 22nd in scoring defense. The 2001 Saints regressed to 27th in total defense and 19th in scoring defense (allowing six more points a game than in 2000). His only other run as DC prior to that was for Florida from 1991-1993, where he was subsequently demoted to ST coordinator. Fittingly, a year later, Spurrier boosted Zook's title to "Associate Head Coach" and also gave him the responsibility of coaching safeties after Michigan State swooped in and attempted to sign him as their defensive coordinator. Who coached the Michigan State team that tried to hire him away? A young, upcoming HC you may have heard of: Nick Saban.

Zook's track record at DC isn't terribly impressive. While at Illinois, his defenses finished as high as 7th (in his final season) and down into the 90s. From that standpoint, it's hardly an inspiring hire.

But there's also the recruiting side of things, which is where Zook truly excels. While at Illinois, here's a sampling of the talent he was able to pull: Rashard Mendenhall, Martez Wilson, Arrelious Benn, Vontae Davis, Jon Asamoah, Corey Liuget, Whitney Mercilus, Michael Hoomanawanui, Mikel LeShoure, A.J. Jenkins, Akeem Spence, & Ethan Pocic's older brother, Graham.

Many of these players are four or five stars. Many of these guys either have, or are currently, playing in the NFL. That's just a short list of names I recognized off hand. His recruiting at UF was similarly stellar, with most of the pieces of Florida's 2006 National Championship run being Zook recruits.

Zook is certainly a "name" hire, that would attract some attention, maybe not all positive. I'm not entirely certain how I'd feel about handing him the reigns to the defense, considering his struggles there in the past. That said, he's an outstanding recruiter, so there are obvious perks there.

What say you, ATVSers? Would a Ron Zook hire excite you?