How can Florida benefit from more on-field coaches?

The NCAA Division I Council approved a rule that allows any staff member to provide on-field coaching during practice and games, a change that removes the lightly enforced restrictions on the previous maximum of 11 “countable” coaches. The proposal does not change the number of off-campus recruiters. FBS teams remain limited to up to 11 staff members who may participate in off-campus recruiting activities.

This change will be effective immediately once it’s finalized after the conclusion of Wednesday’s meeting, according to the NCAA’s report.

Florida football will now be able to lean on any staff member for “technical and tactical instruction” during both practice and games.

“NCAA members continue efforts to modernize support for student-athletes, and removing restrictions on skill instruction in football will provide those student-athletes with increased resources to achieve their greatest on-field potential,” said Josh Whitman, chair of the council and athletics director at Illinois. “At the same time, the council determined that maintaining limits on recruiting personnel will preserve competitive balance in recruiting while also localizing decision-making around how best to maximize support for student-athletes.”

So how can this rule change help Florida’s football program?

The Florida Gators have operated without a special teams coordinator under Billy Napier, a move that has not paid off to date as the Gators ranked 95th and 102nd in special teams over the last two years, according to Pro Football Focus. Not only have they graded poorly, but there has been an abundance of communication issues within the unit that have resulted in a number of poorly timed, and quite frankly inexcusable penalties.

This rule change could have a positive impact on the unit as recently hired Special Teams Analyst Joe Houston can now communicate directly with his players along with returning GameChanger Coordinator Chris Couch. And don’t let the title of Analyst fool you, Houston is a coach, serving four years with the New England Patriots as a special teams assistant after spending one season with Iowa State as the Cyclones’ special teams coordinator (2018).

“I think Joe Houston has done a good job from a situational football standpoint. He’s brought a lot to the table,” Billy Napier said during spring camp. “I think that each day, he’s been able to help me and I think he’s been able to help Chris (Couch). He’s done a good job in that regard….There’s a different level of detail that they can bring to the table and it’s been really good.”

Offensive Analyst Ryan O’Hara, who can now directly work with quarterbacks, could also make an impact on the gridiron.

Entering his third season with the University of Florida, O’Hara has played a large role in recruiting the quarterback position and deserved some credit for hauling in five-star QB DJ Lagway. O’Hara can now take a more hands on approach with his prized recruit and the other Gator quarterbacks he has built a strong relationship with.

Senior quarterback Graham Mertz would surely be in favor of on field coaching from O’Hara.

“He’s the GOAT,” Mertz said on O’Hara. “I mean, I think that in my time last year, learning this offense, I can’t say enough good things about him. I mean, the amount of time, effort, energy he’s put into developing me, I think is one thing that kind of goes unnoticed because no one really talks about him. So, I think that’s one thing with him. He does a fantastic job. If I have any question, he’s going to find an answer.”

On the defensive side, Florida recently hired Bowling Green’s Beyah Rasool as a defensive analyst after he served as the cornerbacks coach and special teams assistant for BGSU in 2023. The Falcons ranked 4th Nationally in interceptions (17) and led the country in turnovers (28) under Rasool. This addition comes after Florida allowed over 226 passing yards per game in 2023, which ranked 70th in D1.

It’s entirely possible that this rule change will benefit programs like Florida, Georgia, and other teams that don’t currently have an on-field special teams coordinator more so than schools that already have one. While allowing O’Hara, Rasool, and other support staffers to instruct players during a game is valuable, the real prize here is that Florida should be able to clean up the communication within their special teams unit.











Nick Marcinko
Nick is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. He is passionate about all sports but specifically baseball and football. Nick interned at Inside the Gators and worked part time with Knights247 before joining the Gator Country family. Nick enjoys spending his free time golfing and at the beach.