It’s already been a wild season for NCAA coaching changes, and that was even before yesterday’s bombshell: that Gregg Troy would be retiring from collegiate coaching after 20 years at the University of Florida.
In the day since the news broke, we’ve heard a number of rumblings about his potential successor(s). While there’s no official word on any of this, we’ll do as we did with Auburn’s high-profile opening and pass along the whispers we’ve heard about the future of the Gators – both frontrunners in the coaching hire and some big rumblings we’ve heard about a structural change to the program.
Split Men’s and Women’s Programs
This is the biggest possibility we’ve heard in the wake of Troy’s retirement. Troy has had success with both the men’s and women’s teams, but over the past three years, it’s been clear the men’s program is on a higher trajectory than the women’s team. We’re told that Florida is strongly considering splitting its men’s and women’s teams with two different head coaches – a unique development in an NCAA where more and more programs have begun to combine their genders under one head coach.
That means that Florida might be looking for two coaches from this list, rather than just one.
Anthony Nesty & Jeff Poppell, associate head coaches at Florida
The most likely option for a split program at this point looks to be promoting the team’s top two assistants to take over the head coaching roles. Nesty was a standout swimmer at Florida and is already enshrined in the Gator Athletic Hall of Fame. He’s been with the Gators for 20 years and is probably more likely to take over the men’s job. Poppell is relatively new to the program, but was previously with the Bolles School (where Florida hired Troy from in 1998) and was the head women’s coach at Arkansas for six years. He appears more likely to take over the women’s side of things in Gainesville.
Lars Jorgensen, head coach at Kentucky
Athletic directors do tend to keep an eye on the conference in these matters, and Jorgensen has been making a name for himself at Kentucky since 2011. He was also a standout swimmer at Tennessee. He’s previously head coached for Toledo’s women’s-only program and has had most of his success at Kentucky on the women’s side, particularly in backstroke, where Kentucky has become a factory of high-level performers.
Sergio Lopez, associate head coach at Auburn
Lopez’s name is going to keep coming up in connection with high-profile openings until he takes one – if he takes one. More and more, it’s starting to appear Lopez might prefer being in an assistant coaching role, though there’s no guarantee he remains at Auburn when that school announces its new head coach. Lopez also coached at Bolles (same as Troy pre-Florida) and has a good lay of the land in Florida recruiting-wise. He’s had more high-profile success on the men’s side with his coaching of future Olympic champs at Bolles.
Stephanie Williams Moreno, assistant coach at Georgia
Another SEC assistant, Moreno has been at Georgia for six seasons in a coaching capacity, and was also an associate head coach at Ohio State. She’s currently only an assistant at Georgia, and in the coaching succession plan, sits behind three associate head coaches who have been with Georgia for 11, 15 and 37 years. Moreno competed under her maiden name, Williams, at Georgia during the early 2000s and has stayed almost entirely in the SEC over her career – coaching with Missouri for three years before her four at Ohio State.
Gary Taylor, associate head coach at NC State
Taylor is another name that is going to keep coming up for head coaching vacancies until he takes one. The NC State associate head coach has previous Florida ties – he was the distance coach at Florida State for four years and has also coached the Dynamo Swim Club in Georgia. He’s been at NC State for six years, and Florida may be tempted to give him a shot after how well former NC State assistant Todd Desorbo has done in just one year at Virginia.