TAMPA — He stands as a 70-year-old subplot to this year's Outback Bowl. Nestled among the retirement of Urban Meyer and rumors about Joe Paterno is the return of Galen Hall.
And apparently, a generation is long enough to lessen any animosity Hall — who coached UF for parts of six turbulent seasons — might have felt upon his dismissal after a win at LSU on a last-second field goal, Oct. 7, 1989.
"I love the Gators, they were good to me, they have great fans," said Hall, who led Florida to the program's first SEC title (before the school was forced to vacate the crown) in 1984. "You're in this profession, and there are ups and downs you have to deal with. … I'm at Penn State now and very happy."
Named UF's interim coach three games into the '84 season after Charley Pell's dismissal amid a discovery of 107 NCAA violations, Hall led the Gators to an 8-0 mark the rest of the way. He had his interim tag removed at year's end, and he guided the '85 team to a 9-1-1 mark.
But the loss of scholarships in the wake of the violations hamstrung the Gators, who never won more than seven games in a season the rest of the decade. Hall was forced out after admitting to making improper payments to two assistants and providing transportation for a player to make a court date.
On Wednesday, Hall, who is Penn State's offensive coordinator and running backs coach, was diplomatic. But he did point out the fifth-year seniors in his 1987 recruiting class at UF (highlighted by early NFL entry Emmitt Smith) helped Steve Spurrier's 1991 team win the Gators' first official SEC crown.
Florida AD Jeremy Foley said he and Hall have not had much contact over the years, but when the two met this week, there was no animosity.
"I saw him the other night and we spoke," Foley said Wednesday. "We revisited old times. We talked about old friends, and I think time always takes care of those situations. I don't know how Galen feels about that in terms of the University of Florida, but he did some great things (at UF). I think everybody's very glad he is at Penn State. It's where he went to school. He's had great success. Galen's a good guy, and he's a good person."
AUSTIN TO COACH: Florida defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is expected to coach Saturday. Austin, 45, was hospitalized Monday with abdominal pains later diagnosed as gastritis. He was released Tuesday night.
"I didn't think it was too serious, and then they told us he was at the hospital and I was real worried," senior DL Duke Lemmens said. "But I saw him (Wednesday) morning. I talked to him, and he reassured me he's fine and he'll be there for the game."
MUSCHAMP STAYING LOW: Incoming UF coach Will Muschamp is expected to be at Saturday's game but has been out of sight this week. Foley said Muschamp is acutely aware of the balancing act of doing his new job while allowing outgoing coach Meyer to complete his.
"Will is certainly respectful of the fact that this is Urban's last deal, and he's not going to be in the forefront," Foley said.
At least a portion of Muschamp's staff is expected to be in place by Tuesday, which marks the end of the recruiting dead period.
"Jan. 4 we've got to hit the ground recruiting," Foley said. "So I'm not going to say the whole staff will be in place by then, but we've got to have coaches on the road, and we will have some coaches on the road. … I think Will said it best when we hired him. It's not a matter of doing what's fastest, let's do the best."