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Ron Zook Not Getting Job Done at Illinois

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-by CoachesByTheNumbers.com

We don't believe Ron Zook is Irish, but we do believe he was born with the luck of an Irishman. Ron Zook is currently making over $1.5 million per year as the Head Coach of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Since he became a head coach in 2002, Ron Zook has made more than $10 million coaching college football.

Illinois v Michigan State

He has been the head coach at the University of Florida (one of CBTN's Top 10 Rated Jobs) and the University of Illinois. These are two very attractive head coaching jobs in very attractive conferences. So, given that he has been a head coach since 2002 at two higher profile jobs, his numbers have to look pretty good don't they?

Let's find out. Below are Coach Zook's CBTN numbers from 2002-Present (rank is among active head coaches with minimum of three years experience)

Coach

Yrs. Coached

CBTN Rating

CBTN Stars

CBTN Rank (Out of 90 Head Coaches)

Avg. Recruiting Rank

Ron Zook

10

48.04

42

27.10 (out of 120 teams)

Now, let's look at his Good Hire/Bad Hire Numbers at both Florida and Illinois:

Coach

School

WP% in Five Years Prior to Zook

WP% Under Zook

Differential

Ron Zook

Florida

79.03%

60.52%

-18.51%

Ron Zook

Illinois

41.38%

41.98%

0.60%

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So, at Florida  Coach Zook had a negative impact of 18.51% on the Gators' winning percentage and after almost seven years at Illinois he has had a positive impact of 0.60% on the Fighting Illini's winning percentage. Now, let's move to our Overachiever/Underachiever Index. This allows us to see if Coach Zook has underachieved or overachieved given the talent he has been able to bring on board (CBTN Head Coaching Rank below indicates where Coach Zook ranked in relation to other head coaches with a minimum of two years experience during the tenure at the school listed).

Coach

School

CBTN Avg. Recruiting Rank

CBTN Head Coaching Rank

Differential

Ron Zook

Florida

10.67

#25

-14.33

Ron Zook

Illinois

34.14

#61

-26.86

To say coach Zook has done less with more would be a bit of an understatement. We can't tell you the number of times we have seen people defend Coach Zook based on the fact that he is such a "great recruiter". Well, let's take a look at the numbers and see just how a great a recruiter Coach Zook really is:

Coach

School

Avg. Recruiting Class

Ron Zook

Florida

10.67

Urban Meyer

Florida

8.00

Ron Zook

Illinois

34.14

Ron Turner

Illinois

40.67

So, at Florida Urban Meyer proved that Ron Zook was not only underachieving in the win/loss column, but that he was also underachieving on the recruiting side as well. At Illinois, Zook has had a 16% positive impact on recruiting compared to Ron Turner's tenure. If you aren't too familiar with Ron Turner, don't worry because you are not alone. During his eight years as head coach at Illinois, Coach Turner lost 11 games twice and at least six games in six of his eight seasons as head coach.

This is all to say that Ron Zook didn't take over a program that was known for its top recruiting. We don't know about you, but Zook's record as a recruiter doesn't quite fall under the "great" category. Finally, let's look at Ron Zook's Talent Wins/Losses Ranking:

Coach

School

WP% w/Superior Talent

WP% w/Equivalent Talent

WP% w/Inferior Talent

Ron Zook

Illinois

47.62% (20-22)

20.00% (3-12)

27.78% (5-13)

So, with equivalent and superior talent at Illinois, Ron Zook has only won 40% of the time. Just when you thought Ron Zook had turned the corner in 2011 with Illinois' first 6-0 start since the Eisenhower administration, he loses back-to-back games to a mediocre Ohio St. team and a very sub-par Purdue team. Additionally, Zook still has to play Penn State, Michigan, and Wisconsin this year.

From the standpoint of the numbers, it appears that Ron Zook has earned in excess of $10 million to make programs worse or keep them at their sub-par level. Just some numbers for everyone to think about.