How the Gators conquered baseball

Junior first baseman Preston Tucker hit .331 last year and is one of many of the Gators' returning stars. Richard C. Lewis/Icon SMI

No athletic director has compiled a better track record for recent head coaching hires than Florida's Jeremy Foley. Billy Donovan came to Gainesville in 1996 with two prior years of head coaching experience and has produced three Final Four appearances and two national titles in basketball. Urban Meyer took over the football program in 2005 with just four years of prior head coaching experience and won two national titles before retiring this winter.

"And now he's got another pretty good one in Will Muschamp [Meyer's successor]," joked Kevin O'Sullivan, hired by Foley to take over the baseball program in the summer of 2007 after Pat McMahon was fired.

McMahon helped Florida reach the College World Series finals in 2005 but then missed the NCAA tournament the next two years. The college coaching community and media didn't all agree sacking McMahon was the right choice, nor was replacing him with a 38-year-old with no college head coaching experience. But Foley works aggressively and with conviction, not worrying if he's making a consensus choice, just the best choice. And he's not afraid to take a chance on a younger coach.