Now Addazio is taking over at Temple, returning to his roots in the Northeast.
"I've waited a long time to be a head football coach," he said. "I've paid my dues in this business. It's been my pleasure to serve some great players and coaches. I feel they've helped guide me."
The Connecticut native and Florida offensive coordinator was introduced as Temple's 25th coach at a news conference Thursday.
"Urban knew my goal from the beginning has been to be a head football coach in the Northeast," said Addazio, who will remain with the Gators through the Outback Bowl against Penn State on Jan. 1. "I'm grateful this opportunity came up."
The 51-year-old Addazio was hired to replace Al Golden following a 10-day search. Golden took the top job at Miami, but left behind a program in much better shape than he found it.
Temple went 3-31 in the three seasons before Golden arrived. The Owls went 1-11 in his first season, then won 26 games over the past four years.
"I couldn't write a better script for myself," Addazio said. "Al Golden has done a fantastic job. It's our responsibility to come here and build on that."
Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw said Addazio's name came up early in his discussions after Golden informed him he'd be heading to Miami.
"In the back of my mind I knew this might be coming," Bradshaw said of Golden's departure. "So I had to be ready. I'm grateful Al gave us five years.
"The interest for this job was extraordinary. But Steve matched our vision for what Temple football can become."
Addazio says he'll take his time putting together a staff and try to build his offense and defense around the strengths of his players, rather than trying to fit them into a system.
"I don't want to put a square peg into a round hole," he said. "I want to have balance on the field on offense, defense and special teams. ... We want to run the football and be aggressive. Play with a relentless mindset."
Addazio is known as a top recruiter and motivator. During his coaching stints at Syracuse, Notre Dame and Indiana, he mostly coached offensive line and tight ends.
He was promoted to offensive coordinator at Florida in 2009, but this season he became the target of criticism by fans and media as the Gators slipped to 7-5 and ranked 80th in the nation in yards per game.
Temple finished 8-4 this season, including wins over Big East champion Connecticut and Army, but was not selected for a bowl game. The Owls have 14 starters returning next year, including running back Bernard Pierce.
Addazio sees Temple as a place where top players should want to be.
"My message is make it a destination to be at Temple. Don't be passing through," Addazio said. "I've been a lot of places and had some opportunities before that weren't right. But now I'm honestly living my dream."