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Since then, he’s worked on a college show for CBS, and as business development officer for Gateway Bank in Florida.

He needed a break from coaching in the first season after Illinois, but the itch returned last year. He said he had other opportunities, but was looking at “being in a situation where you’re in it for the right things, you’re in it for the right reasons.”

The Saints defensive coordinator for two seasons starting in 2000, Zook lived with McCarthy while his now-new boss was offensive coordinator there at the same time. Zook’s NFL resume also includes a stint as a Steelers special teams coach from 1996-98.

McCarthy noted Zook’s energetic personality as one of a strength, and harkened back to their competitive days matching wits as coordinators.

“That’s something that I always admired of him and also frankly the fact that he’s gone on and he’s been a head coach and he’s built two programs,” McCarthy said. “That’s something that I think will definitely be a benefit to our program and a benefit to myself.”

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Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP