If you are a University of Florida alumnus or even just a Gator fan, you probably miss Steve Spurrier's presence on the Gainesville sidelines. Spurrier left Florida for greener pastures in the NFL last year. His reward? A 7-9 season with the Redskins and many grumbling Skins fans in D.C. But that's nothing compared to what his replacement in the Swamp went through in 2002.
Ron Zook left his NFL defensive-coordinator position in New Orleans to go to Gainesville to replace the Old Ball Coach's fun 'n' gun, spread-the-field offense with his own brand of defensive-minded pigskin. Well, some Gator fans are not too happy with the result: an 8-5 season. Check out the www.fireronzook.com website, which keeps a running countdown to the end of Zook's three-year contract, sarcastically noting "Just ... days left until 8 and 5 are merely digits in the Gainesville temperature."
Five losses? Unacceptable. Some in the Gator Nation were particularly miffed at the heartbreaking, mistake-filled 38-30 loss to Michigan on New Year's Day in the Outback Bowl. Especially since the crucial play was an ineffective fleaflicker called from sideline. Says disgruntled Gator fan "bagofdonuts," in a message posted on the FRZ board: "The only people that like Ron Zook are fans of Gator opponents."
Not everybody agrees. In Zook's defense, "Mark," the website's owner, admits that during the height of last fall's football season, about 60 percent of all incoming FRZ e-mails were in favor of Zook's remaining at the helm. Whether on one side or the other, one thing is certain: No Gator fan straddles the fence. When it comes to football, there is no room in Gainesville for apathy.
They say you never want to replace a legend but rather replace the guy who replaces the legend. What about that, Ron? Zook will be handling those kinds of questions at a dinner reception from 5 to 9 p.m. at the International Game and Fishing Hall of Fame, 300 Gulf Stream Way, Dania Beach. Tickets for the event, which is sponsored by the Broward County Gator Club, are $35 for BCGC members, $50 for nonmembers. Call 954-574-6000. -- Russ Evans
SAT 5/10 Horsin' Off
Place your bets
OK, all you pony lovers. There's a big one this weekend at Calder. The fourth running of the $75,000 Carterista Handicap takes off Saturday. The Carterista is a turf race run over a mile and one-sixteenth. A grassy gallop. It's open to 3-year-olds and up. Past winners include Florida Derby champ Hal's Hope and last year's winner, 6-year-old local favorite Wertz. Six? A relatively advanced age for a thoroughbred. In the midst of Triple Crown season, the race serves as a reminder that horseracing isn't all about the 3-year-olds. Says Calder's Robin Hansen, the Carterista is unusual in that respect: "It's a great chance for older horses to get a shot at a stakes race." But let's say you can't tell the difference between a gelding and mare and you're torn as to which filly you should bet the house on (join the club). Track analyst Bobby Neuman holds a free handicapping seminar every Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in the second-floor Winner's Edge Room. This morning cram session should give you a leg up come race time. And when you get to the track, remember not to tear up any ticket until all finals are official. Otherwise, bring lots of Scotch tape. Calder Racecourse is at 21001 NW 27th Ave., Miami-Dade County. Call 305-625-1311. -- Russ Evans
Wake Up Quiet Waters gets you wet
Got air? That wakeboarding catch phrase helps determine the winners and losers of the 2003 Cable Wakeboard Tour at Ski Rixen, inside Quiet Waters Park (401 S. Powerline Rd., Deerfield Beach). The four-city North American tour kicks off at 10 a.m. and offers ten competitive divisions. Spectators can enjoy food, drinks, music, and cash prize giveaways for only the $1 park entrance fee. For competitors, registration starts at $45 and is open to the public.
Let's face it. In South Florida, lakes surround us, but most are man-made, and swimming is prohibited. Plus, pleading with your pal to take out his boat again is starting to annoy him. Ski Rixen makes it possible for anyone to wakeboard, water-ski, kneeboard, or surf without worrying about waves and boats. The cable-skiing system gently pulls your body across the water, making the facility just as great for families learning how to ski as it is for wakeboarders practicing their whirlybird trick for the Pro Tour. Visit www.cablewakeboardtour.com, or call 954-429-0215. -- Melissa Malamut
Every kid wished he could find a wise man like Mr. Miyagi, win the affections of the pretty, popular girl, and take on the high school bully in a no-holds-barred karate tournament, all set to the soundtrack of bad 1980s pop. But in reality, painting that old dude's fence, washing his car, and stealing the bully's girlfriend with your impressive "Crane" kick aren't going to help you win a damn tournament. That's just fodder for sequels! The 17th-annual Florida Gold Coast Classic takes place Friday and Saturday to showcase all levels of fighting skill and talent. The different divisions include traditional fighting for black belt weapons, open weapons, self-defense, two-person tag team sparring, and musical gymnastics, among others. Say, can you hear that? It's the opening bars of "Eye of the Tiger." Go and get ya some! Sheraton Suites Hotel, 311 N. University Dr., Plantation. The cost is $10 for spectators, $60 for competitors. Call 954-474-4705. -- Audra Schroeder