I’m scratching my head at the University of Florida hire of Scott Stricklin as their fourteenth Athletic Director. Maybe I’m a cynic for not liking a Mississippi State alum taking over as the Secretary of State of the “Gator Nation.” Or possibly it’s the fact that Stricklin used to huff and puff the scent of Kentucky blue grass.
I know, I know his predecessor Jeremy Foley didn’t graduate from Florida. But Foley did work his way up from the bottom selling tickets to being the man holding the golden ticket.
Call me loyal, or call me a crazy but I don’t believe walking in to Florida Field or the O’Connell Center through the visitor’s tunnel prepares you for being a Gator.
Here was his video greeting this afternoon to Gators fans:
— Florida Gators (@FloridaGators) September 27, 2016
Hey, Stricklin maybe a great guy, a “Rising Star,” but this isn’t a Florida athletic program on the rise. This is a program that’s a fine running machine, a Ferrari of college of athletics. Just because a kid tears up the sprint car series, doesn’t mean he warrants a seat in NASCAR.
Stricklin in my eyes will be a glorified baby-sitter. His predecessor Jeremy Foley will be right down the hall in his emeritus role. While a couple of doors down will be the biggest Gator of them all in Steve Spurrier. And just a couple of steps away will reside Jim McElwain’s nameplate. Do you really think a program with 24 national titles during Foley’s reign will sit back and let the tourist steer the car? Heck no, this is shaping up to be the mother of all back seat driver road trips.
“I can’t imagine how special it is to walk in to an opportunity like this, and to have a guy like Jeremy (Foley) to seek as a resource, Stricklin said today. Something tells me he won’t have to seek advice, he’ll be given orders.
The hire was a safe, if not controlling a move by the university. Sure Stricklin oversaw more than $100 million dollars spent on new facilities as the AD at MSU. Sure he helped “Big Blue” nation get back on track in hoops as Associate AD. But realistically, those are one trick or sport ponies. UF is an army of student athletes, boosters and fanatics smothered in orange and blue.
I get it, Stricklin knows the Southeastern Conference. He’s harmonized the cow bells in Starkville, and tamed the Wildcats basketball zealots. But this is the University of Florida. The marque university in a state that has more athletic talent than the rest of the SEC combined (well damn close to it).
Stricklin said it himself “Florida has set a standard not only in the SEC, but around the country.”
That’s right Stricklin don’t screw it up.