Say what you want about Steve Addazio, but Florida made the right move by making him the Gators' interim head coach during Urban Meyer's leave of absence. Addazio took a lot of heat this year (probably too much) from fans and reporters for the Gators' perceived offensive struggles and some of his dubious quotes in press conferences, but when it comes to holding the UF program together, he was the best choice.
Regardless of what anyone things of Addazio, we can all agree that at a time like this, the most important opinions are those of the players. They're the ones who have to play for whomever the coach is, and they're the ones who have to win the games. And for some of them, keeping Addazio around may be the tipping point for decisions on their future.
Take offensive lineman Mike Pouncey, who'll be choosing between the NFL and another year at UF in the coming months: “It was really uncertain. I felt like if we didn’t keep someone on this staff who was already here as a coach, it was going to be really tough on my decision of whether or not to come back for next year. I think keeping Addazio will play a big part in that, and I’m just glad he’s going to be here.”
Senior receiver Riley Cooper won't face the same decision as Pouncey, but he echoed his teammate's sentiments:
“The good thing is they’re keeping the coaching within the
family. Addazio had a big part in our offense this year, it wasn’t just coach
Meyer, so luckily he’s going to step into that role and it won’t change a whole
Running back Jeffery Demps said Meyer told the team he would "bring in the best coaching staff or the best coach" when he resigned, so he wasn't too worried about the future, but Addazio will have a calming influence on a hectic situation.
That's why Addazio is the right man for the job, something he highlighted today during his press conference.
"Continuity is the issue here," Addazio said. "That's my role. My role is to come in here and keep a great program on a great course. It's about the program, that's what it is at Florida: the University of Florida football program. That's the beautiful thing about what's happening here, it's a statement to that effect. This has become the premier program in college football and in the history of UF, and it is built on a great program foundation. We have great players, great coaches, great administrative support and the greatest AD in America. All of that is right there, so now we have to keep that at the same level and run this great program. That's what we're going to do."
Addazio may not even still be the head coach come next season, but right now, his players needed a return to normalcy. Short of dragging Dan Mullen or Charlie Strong back to Gainesville for what would eventually amount to a demotion, Addazio was the best option.