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With success of Florida Gators football, assistants have become hot commodities

GAINESVILLE — It's not as if any of this is catching Urban Meyer by surprise, but the reality that he might lose several key members of his coaching staff is starting to hit home.

Defensive line coach Dan McCarney interviewed Sunday for the coaching job at New Mexico, which will be filled by former UF assistant Mike Locksley, and offensive coordinator Dan Mullen has been mentioned as a candidate for multiple jobs, most recently at Mississippi State. Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong and offensive line coach Steve Addazio are in line for head coaching jobs, too. Meyer jokingly said he's dealing with the issue by "taking a sleeping pill at night," but he realizes that when your team is hot, chances of losing coaches will increase.

"It's a major concern," Meyer said Sunday night after Florida learned it will face Oklahoma in the BCS national title game Jan. 8. With Florida's success this season, Meyer is not surprised.

"I hire the best coaches I can," he said. "We lost a brilliant coach in Greg Mattison last year and replaced him with a brilliant coach in Dan McCarney. At the University of Florida, you should be able to find quality coaches. But (losing coaches) is a concern."

As the Gators prepare for the title game, some coaches might have to balance obligations of a new job with responsibilities now. But Meyer knows it can be done.

"I did it twice," he said. "When I was an assistant coach at Notre Dame, we played a BCS game, and I accepted a position at Bowling Green. Coach (Bob) Davie was good enough to let me come back because I wanted to finish it the right way. And at Utah, the Fiesta Bowl, the administration and our players were good enough to let me come back (after he accepted the Florida job) and finish. It's difficult, but it can be done."

Injury update: The monthlong layoff until the national title game will give WR/RB Percy Harvin enough time to heal his sprained right ankle and be ready to play.

"The week we travel to Miami, we expect him in full practice," Meyer said.

Harvin said it's difficult to remain sidelined.

"I've just been trying to lay low because I've been wanting it too bad," the junior said. "The coaches have been telling me to relax so I can get healthy. I'm doing pretty good right now; it's healing up."

Redshirt freshman RB Chris Rainey, hampered by a groin and hamstring injury, will likely have surgery after the season but is expected to play.

Proud moment: As former Gators QB Chris Leak stood near the podium Saturday where UF players posed for their SEC championship team photo, he said he felt nostalgia and an overwhelming sense of pride. Leak led Florida to the 2006 SEC and national titles and now plays for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League.

"A lot of these guys were freshmen my senior year, so it just makes me so proud to see them mature and the composure they have showed through adversity," Leak said. "There is going to be adversity in every game, and to see them come through this and see them mature and grow, it just makes you very proud as a Gator."

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com.

With success of Florida Gators football, assistants have become hot commodities 12/08/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 8, 2008 7:58pm]
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