GAINESVILLE — What began as a seemingly simple enough question turned into a public incident involving Florida coach Urban Meyer and former UF and current Illinois coach Ron Zook.
But Meyer said Saturday that his comments about a locker room culture at Florida that was unpleasant for freshmen before he arrived were not a personal criticism of Zook.
"There absolutely was not," Meyer said after Saturday morning's practice. "It was about the locker room and the way the locker room setup was. Our staff has never been critical of any staff. I think the question was something about Miami's fight, and I just said that we had fights here a lot because of the locker room and the way we had it in the past.
''It's just not that way any more."
Meyer was asked Friday about how he handles situations involving fights between players.
"When we first got here five years ago they had freshman in a separate locker room, and it was a bunch of tin lockers over there and they weren't allowed to walk (through)," Meyer said. "Think about this for a minute: This is a big-time college football program, and we had some fights because they treat their freshman like they were non-people. 'Don't walk through here, we'll kick your tail, we'll shave your eyebrows.' It took us a while to break that great culture we had here. That was tremendous. You don't win many games, but you beat up freshmen and shave eyebrows. Absolutely unbelievable."
Apparently, when contacted, Zook took offense to the comments.
"I was surprised to see that, once again, five years later, we're blamed for something else at Florida," Zook said in a statement. "But by now I guess I shouldn't be. This one was most disappointing because it implies we didn't look out for our players, from someone who wasn't there at the time. I can assure you I've never, ever been accused of that. I thought I was too much of a players' coach."
Meyer never mentioned Zook's name in his Friday statements.