Muschamp’s days at Florida are numbered
Published on Sunday, 10/19/14, at 1:24 p.m. Eastern.
This is the column I never wanted to write. Unlike many Florida alums, I’ve liked Will Muschamp a lot from day one.
Hell, the dude met my Dad only once while visiting a recruit in Quincy, yet took time out of his busy schedule to call him on his deathbed and tell him “that he’s always been a great Gator.”
You don’t forget shit like that — ever.
With that said, it’s not working and Muschamp knows it. He’s a lifer in the coaching business and knows this comes with the territory.
Muschamp is one of the best defensive minds in all of football (college and NFL), and he’ll have NFL teams and literally dozens of college teams wanting to make him their defensive coordinator next year and one of the country’s highest paid assistants. And he’ll get another head-coaching job in the next 3-4 years, maybe sooner.
I want nothing but the best for Muschamp – period.
But his four-year tenure at UF is over. It might happen in the next hour or two; it might be tomorrow. Whatever the case, he’s a goner.
At Muschamp’s opening presser, he said, “There are no five-year plans in the SEC these days.”
For more than a decade, Florida AD Jeremy Foley has followed this mantra: “If it’s inevitable, it should be done immediately.”
After losing 42-13 at home to Missouri last night, it’s inevitable. Please, Gator historians, correct me if I’m wrong, but has UF ever trailed 42-0 at The Swamp in my lifetime? (UPDATE: Per Pat Dooley’s Monday column in the Gainesville Sun, the 42-0 home deficit was the biggest since 1970.)
I was born in 1974, joining the Forty Club six weeks ago. The Gators went 0-10-1 in 1979, so maybe they trailed 42-0 at home that year? I started going to Florida Field on a regular basis in 1981, so I’m 99.9% sure that there’s never been a 31-0 deficit at home since then, much less 42-0.
And here’s the biggest stunner of all: Missouri didn’t even have 100 yards of total offense and still led by six touchdowns. Maty Mauk completed only 6-of-18 passes for 20 yards.
There’s no reason to go through the offensive stats to point out the utter ineptitude of that unit on Muschamp’s watch. Three offensive coordinators have failed miserably, and maybe that’s on them or maybe Muschamp has had them hand-cuffed the whole time.
However, we’ll point out this shocking stat (with a h/t to Gator Bait’s Marty Cohen): When UF foes have faced situations of 3rd-and-10 or longer this season, they have converted 12 out of 26 times. That’s 46.2%. To get an idea of how atrocious that is, consider that South Carolina ranked last in the SEC in third-down conversion defense (43.2%) going into Week 8. That’s all third downs, not just third-and-long scenarios.
In fairness to Muschamp, he has caught some horrible breaks. The injury to John Brantley was a killer in his first season. In Year 2, everything went right and UF went 11-1 in the regular season, smashing Florida St. 37-26 in the regular-season finale. But nothing good has happened since that night in Tallahassee.
It started in New Orleans when Louisville blasted UF at the Sugar Bowl. Then last year, the rash of injuries was as bad as I’ve seen in 30 years of religiously following college football.
Because of those factors, Muschamp deserved another season despite the unfathomable home loss to Ga. Southern. But there are no excuses this year.
The Gators are still abysmal on offense. Fourth-year junior quarterback Jeff Driskel threw only five interceptions in 2012, but he’s been picked off nine times in the last four games. DeMarcus Robinson has finally emerged as an elite wide receiver, but he’s not getting nearly enough touches. The only explosive player other than Robinson, Andre DeBose, had three huge plays last week, but his only touches last night came on special teams. How is that possible?
The speculation about Muschamp’s replacement has already begun. You’re going to hear names like Dan Mullen, Rich Rodriguez, Mike Gundy, Hugh Freeze and maybe even the HBC, Steve Spurrier.
Spurrier doesn’t want to come back, but I’d take him in a heartbeat. Freeze is actually my top choice, but I doubt he’ll leave Ole Miss because he’s from the Magnolia State, has the Rebels rolling and will probably get as much money in a contract extension that’s needed to keep him in Oxford.
As a whole, just about every fan base is ignorant as hell and Gator Nation is no exception. There are already a couple of websites created in hopes of UF bringing back former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen.
Mullen is obviously doing a tremendous job at Mississippi St. and as long as the Bulldogs don’t win it all this year, I have no doubt that Mullen would bolt Starkville for UF. Call me crazy, but I don’t want anything to do with him. I think his tenure as OC at UF is extremely overrated.
Who on earth couldn’t call successful plays for an offense with players like Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Aaron Hernandez, Riley Cooper and those hell-raisin’ Pouncey Brothers?
Rodriguez isn’t a good fit. Neither is Art Briles, who has never left Texas and is up there in years. I guess I could live with Gundy — he’s done a tremendous job in Stillwater.
If Foley had made a move last year, Chris Petersen and James Franklin would’ve been in play. But both of those guys are happy with their new gigs at powerful programs.
And here’s the thing with coaching hires: It’s all about timing. Anyone with a clue knows that Florida is one of the top-five college jobs in the country, and it’s probably one of the top two or three.
But it’s not that simple. Even North Carolina had issues galore in hiring a basketball coach when it had to settle for Matt Doherty. Tennessee has had to settle for its sixth or seventh choice in multiple football coaching searches in the last decade. UCLA also struggled to find a hoops coach before settling for Steve Alford a couple of years ago.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You NEVER know what Foley is going to do. He has more job security than any AD in America.
He had the audacity to hire Ron Zook when Slippery Rock and Stony Brook would’ve never considered such a thing. Then again, he might have made the best hire in the history of college basketball when he brought Billy the Kid to Gainesville.
Of all the candidates I’ve mentioned, only Freeze gets me excited. So hopefully Jeremy’s List has some names from the NFL ranks or he knows something we don’t. Maybe there’s an elite coach that’s not getting along with his AD? Maybe somebody special is looking to make a move that would shock everyone? Or maybe the Florida job is so coveted that anybody is in play?
We’ll know soon enough.