Gators fire OC Brent Pease, UGA retains DC Grantham

Published on Sunday, 12/1/13, at 6:09 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

Florida head coach Will Muschamp is looking for his third offensive coordinator. I must admit that I thought the hires of Charlie Weis and Brent Pease were good ones, but neither worked out at all.

In fairness to Weis and Pease, both had to play inexperienced quarterbacks due to injuries in 2011 and 2013. Even though UF’s offense was mediocre in 2012 under Pease, it was good enough for the Gators to win 11 games and nearly get to the BCS Championship Game.

Muschamp fired Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis on Sunday morning.

“I have a lot of respect for Coach Pease and Coach Davis,” Muschamp said in a press release from UF. “They are both good football coaches and even better people. There have been a lot of unfortunate circumstances this year, but that is part of the game sometimes. I want to thank each of them for their contributions to the program both on and off the field.”

UF’s offensive woes date back to Urban Meyer’s final season in Gainesville. There’s no way around the fact that the Gators have been downright atrocious on offense for four consecutive years and, even in Tim Tebow’s last season (’09), the UF offense was an underachieving unit.

So, who will be tabbed to fix things? Obviously, this is a crucial hire for Muschamp, who will be next year’s version of Lane Kiffin 2013 (the coach on the hottest seat going into the season).

One name being mentioned is Gator Great Kerwin Bell, one of the school’s best all-time QBs who was a four-year starter from 1984-1987. Bell was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984 and a first-team All-SEC selection in 1985.

During his junior season in 1986, an injured Bell orchestrated one of the greatest comebacks in school history. Trailing 17-0 against unbeaten and fifth-ranked Auburn, Bell limped off the bench with a large knee brace on for his first playing time in a month in the final stanza.

He proceeded to lead UF to an 18-17 win. In the final minute, Bell hit Ricky Nattiel for a long TD pass and on the subsequent two-point conversion, Bell scrambled hobbled into the end zone to lift his team to victory.

Bell spent 14 seasons playing in the NFL, CFL and World League. He was a grad assistant for Steve Spurrier at UF in 1990. Bell has been an offensive coordinator in the CFL and he’s been the head coach at Jacksonville University since 2007.

Other potential candidates including Lane Kiffin, Joker Phillips, Philip Montgomery, Major Applewhite and Dameyune Craig.

Kiffin’s wife went to UF and he has reportedly been in contact with Muschamp. Kiffin is a strong recruiter but he’s not a popular figure among the UF faithful due to his antics while head coach at Tennessee.

Phillips is the former head coach at Kentucky and current wide receivers coach at UF. He is a veteran play-caller in the SEC, serving as Rich Brooks’s long-time OC at UK.

Montgomery, the Baylor OC, is a hot name thanks to the recent production of the Bears’ high-octane offense. Applewhite is currently the co-OC at Texas who spent several years on the Longhorns’ staff with Muschamp. Applewhite was Nick Saban’s OC at Alabama for one season.

Craig is the co-OC at Auburn, where he was a terrific player in the 1990s. He is an outstanding recruiter who used to be on Jimbo Fisher’s staff at FSU and was instrumental in the recruitment of Jameis Winston.

In other SEC news, Georgia coach Mark Richt announced that DC Todd Grantham will be retained. This won’t go over well with the UGA faithful.

Also, most books have installed Auburn as a 1.5-point favorite vs. Missouri in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday at the Ga. Dome in Atlanta. I made Gary Pinkel’s team a four-point ‘chalk’ and will be backing Mizzou.

I find it difficult to dub a situation a letdown spot when you’re playing for a conference title and a possible invite to the BCS Championship Game. However, the Iron Bowl rivalry is a different beast. And the 2013 version was an all-timer in terms of meaning and certainly in the way it played out.

So that factors into my thinking somewhat, but the bottom line is that I think Missouri is the better team with better talent. And I don’t see Auburn slowing down Mizzou’s balanced and dynamic offense.

Other lines include Arizona St. -3.5 vs. Stanford (in Tempe), FSU -29 vs. Duke (Charlotte), Ohio St. -5.5 vs. Michigan St. (Indy) and Fresno St. -3 vs. Utah St. (Fresno).

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