GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As new Florida safeties coach Ron English put it, he feels like he’s “almost starting over” after a well-traveled career that has included a head coaching stint and multiple stops as a defensive coordinator.
“I mean, I’m the secondary coach, I’m a safeties coach or whatever you want to call it. So coming from where I’ve been and doing some of the things I’ve done, it humbles you. But it’s a good thing,” he said Tuesday. “It’s a blessing to be able to display humility. … But I love coaching and I love doing what I’m doing.”
Unlike in recent years, Florida has not one but two defensive backs coaches, with Charlton Warren handling the cornerbacks and English the safeties.
WATCH: Florida safeties coach Ron English meets with media
Posted by Florida Gators – SEC Country on Tuesday, February 20, 2018
In his first climb up the coaching ladder, English was the defensive coordinator at Michigan from 2006-07 and at Louisville in 2008 before becoming head coach at Eastern Michigan from 2009-13.
He went 11-46 in his tenure there, earning MAC Coach of the Year honors in 2011 after a 6-6 finish (EMU’s most wins since 1995), but he was fired during the 2013 season after a tape recording emerged of inappropriate language he had used with his team.
After his firing, English defended his track record of “integrity, passion and intensity” while apologizing for losing his poise in the moment in question.
After two full seasons away from college football, he started rebuilding his career in 2016 as the defensive coordinator at San Jose State and last season as the safeties coach at Mississippi State under now Florida coach Dan Mullen and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
English and Mullen had coached against each other as coordinators when Florida played Michigan in the Capitol One Bowl after the 2007 season and have been familiar with each other since then.
“He contacted me about a job at Mississippi State when he first took that job, but at the time I’d taken another job. I watched what he did there at Mississippi State. It’s unbelievable the job he did there,” English said. “Back when he went there people forget that nobody wanted that job, really. It was a very difficult job, one of those graveyards for coaches. That is a legitimate program. Those are players that expect to win, they play hard, they work hard.
“And I really enjoyed it. I was really impressed when I went there last year, so I enjoy working with Coach Mullen. I think he’s excellent at what he does. I think he’ll win here and win big.”
English also said he and Grantham have similar defensive philosophies in terms of the aggressiveness they want from their players.
“I’ve learned a lot from Todd. I’ve been around some very good coaches and he is excellent and will do a wonderful job here. I feel very blessed and fortunate to be here,” English said.
As English has returned to coaching and embraced that “humility” he mentioned, he said he’s appreciated getting back to working with the same position group on a daily basis, being more involved with those players on a personal level with what’s going on in their lives, all the while sharpening his individual coaching skills.
“But the experience I’ve had, leading men as a head coach and a defensive coordinator at multiple places, will help serve me well,” he added.
And one day, yeah, he’d like to return to that kind of role. The 49-year-old didn’t hesitate when asked about his future ambitions or whether he was comfortable remaining a position coach.
“I don’t know if I would want to work with a guy who’s in a place of comfort. I just don’t think that’s how the world works,” English said. “I would want to work with a guy who wants to ascend back to where he believes he should be. But really if you’re asking me what I’m interested in right now, it’s winning a national championship. I think Florida can win a national championship. They’ve done it multiple times before. … I’m excited about the opportunity to help Florida get back where they should be.”