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Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Updated: October 27, 1:04 PM ET
Gators want quick answer

ESPN.com news services

University of Florida officials have contacted Steve Spurrier to gauge his interest in returning to coach the school's football team, a source told ESPN college football analyst Jim Donnan on Tuesday.

School officials want to know within the next few days whether Spurrier is interested in returning to Gainesville to replace the fired Ron Zook, the source said.

On Tuesday night, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley denied a report from earlier in the day that a 24-hour deadline had been imposed for Spurrier's response.

"There's absolutely no basis to that at all," Foley said. "We've got a little time. Why would 24 hours make a difference?"

"Our timetable has been communicated to Steve, and he's fine with it," he added.

Foley also said that he has not been in contact with Spurrier.

Speaking at an alumni function in Tampa Tuesday night, Florida president Bernie Machen said the Gators probably will not hire a new football coach until at least "mid-to-late December," according to the Tampa Tribune. Machen said he and Foley will conduct a nationwide search.

Zook, who will finish out the season, was fired Monday after two-plus years, satisfying a growing groundswell for his ouster that began the day he replaced Spurrier. The Gators are 20-13 under Zook with four games left -- that's just 14 losses fewer than Spurrier had in 12 seasons.

If Spurrier would return, the former Washington Redskins coach would be interested in having Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator Bo Pellini on his staff, the source told Donnan.

"We will discuss this job with a number of coaches, and obviously if Coach Spurrier is interested, we will sit down with him," Foley said Monday.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, Utah coach Urban Meyer and Louisville coach Bobby Petrino also could be possible replacements. Foley said he would not talk to any coaches with current jobs until after the season.

"I'm not here to talk about other jobs, and I'm not going to," Stoops said Tuesday. "There's nothing to talk about. I'm the head coach at Oklahoma, and that's enough said. I've got a great job."

Spurrier's defensive coordinator for three seasons at Florida, Stoops said he and Spurrier had talked recently enough to know he shot a 73 during his charity round.

But Stoops declined to give details about their conversation.

"That's not for me to talk about," Stoops said Tuesday. "Whatever he wants I'm all for. Though I talk to Coach frequently, that wouldn't be appropriate for me to talk about what we're talking about and what his feelings are."