You guys remember Ron Zook, right? Former head football coach of the Illini, masterful water-skier, the silver-haired savant of recruiting? Well, anyways, he finally got another coaching job this week as the Green Bay Packers decided to hire him as an assistant coach. Hallelujah for the Zooker!
Let me summarize Zook’s time in Champaign. Basically, there were two forms of Zook: the recruiter and the coach. Recruiter Zook would continually bring in high-level talent that isn’t normally seen in the Champaign area. Coach Zook would find a way to blow every chance at opportunity. Every two years followed this basic formula:
“This season is going to be terrible. All the good Illini players left for the NFL. Do we even have a free safety this year?” asked the orange-clad fan. Then Recruiter Zook swooped in, showing his amazing persuasion skills and flashing that above-average smile.
The season would some how turn out just fine and the future blazed with potential as the players would be around for at least another year. The offseason would come, hopes and expectations soaring; Zook is a stud. “I can’t wait to go to Memorial Stadium. The Illini are going to be awesome. We might even beat Purdue!”
Then Coach Zook would appear. Games would start out fine, but the lead would falter and die. Coach Zook’s blank stare symbolized another Illini season, it was all lost, and our good players were leaving for the NFL; Zook should be fired.
..And then it would start all over again.
Zook’s career is hard to truly understand. In ’07, he brought us the defeat of #1 Ohio State and Illinois’ first Rose Bowl in 24 years. In ’09, the Illini went 3-9 and lost to Indiana, who had one B1G win all season, which came against the Illini. Zook’s final season of 2012 saw the Illini start with 6 wins followed by 6 losses. Ron Zook was truly an enigma.
The Packers will use Zook as either an outside linebackers coach or a special teams coach, although they would be best advised to capitalize on his recruiting talents.