« News From the Pack

Zook returns to the big leagues

by Mark Daniels

Thirteen years ago, a pair of young coordinators tested each other daily on Jim Haslett's coaching staff with the New Orleans Saints.  Mike McCarthy and Ron Zook went at it for two seasons, each playing a game of anything you can do, I can do better.  Zook did it well enough to become the head coach at the University of Florida in 2002.   That began a decade long run as head coach of a major program.  He guided the Gators to three straight bowl appearances before moving on to Champaign, Illinois to take over a floundering Illini program. Within three years, Zook was the Big Ten Coach of the Year and led Illinois to the Rose Bowl.   He was let go after the 2011 season and for a while, Zook figured his on-field football days were over.

But last month, his former coordinator counterpart in the Big Easy called and offered Zook a chance to return to the NFL as an assistant special teams coach.   Zook told McCarthy he's in. He brings 34 years of coaching experience to the staff that includes stops at seven schools and three NFL teams.

On Monday, Zook was introduced to the media and a crowd of reporters gathered around to hear not only why he wanted to be reunited with McCarthy, but also why a coach with such a full resume would take what amounts to an entry level pro position as the assistant to the retained Special Teams Coordinator Shaun Slocum.   Here's what Ron Zook had to say:

Audio: Ron Zook