I was one of the "level headed" Gator fans prior to the Vanderbilt game. While friends, family, and my fellow Gator Nation wanted Muschamp's head - I was trying to assuage their fears by noting the injuries and the record of last year (which, in regards to last years record, was even more impressive after Meyer completely burnt down the program). But, a couple of things changed my mind. First, even when the Gators started the year without injuries they looked awful. I didn't see any progression or advancement of the offense at all - indeed, it appeared to reverse itself and decline. In addition, the defense wasn't dominating and special teams looked dreadful. Second, four losses in a row - I can't even remember the last time this happened (which if Mr SEC could oblige to find out, I would find very interesting). Third, a loss to Georgia that could have been a win (again). Fourth, Vandy at the Swamp. Say what you want about injuries, but with the recruiting and talent level plus home field advantage, there is no excuse to be blown out by Vandy (a lesser program in many different ways and also one that had its own share of the injury bug). This was the first time since *1945* that Vandy won at our house. We will have a losing season for the first time since *1979*. These all add up to serious and legitimate concerns for the direction and coaching of the Gators football team. I think that it would be in the best interest for the program to move on at this time (and I didn't always feel that way). Now, I will say that Muschamp could earn back his job and there are two ways to do that. One, fire Pease. I think he is a decent coach, but it just isn't working. Second would be recruiting (this season is lost). If he can manage to get a top 5 recruiting class this year I'd feel more inclined to keep him for another year and see what happens. Having said this - if some back room dialogue indicates Charlie Strong would like to come back to Florida, I'd fire Muschamp regardless.
Apparently there will be no vote of confidence for Will Muschamp at Florida. There will be no puff of “we’re going to keep him” white smoke from the chimney above Jeremy Foley’s office. At least it doesn’t appear that one’s on the way.
“Although Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley has reportedly voiced his support for Muschamp privately, he has yet to do so publicly, and a humiliating loss to Vanderbilt has only further swelled speculation about the entire coaching staff’s job security.”
Plenty of Gator fans are angry enough to boot the third-year coach right now. As in today. Forget all the injuries (Florida lost another starter for the year on Saturday). Muschamp could lose a full 85 men to the infirmary and fans would still be angry after losses. Especially losses like the one to Vanderbilt.
But Muschamp won 11 games last season and was one close loss to Georgia away from playing for the SEC crown and possibly the BCS title. Stop. Re-read that sentence. Now consider that Florida fans want the man canned and their program thrown asunder — again — after only three years.
We at MrSEC.com know all about Muschamp’s overall record and its similarity to Ron Zook’s. But Zook never posted more than eight wins in a season during his three-year cup of coffee in Gainesville. Muschamp has.
A look at the schedule (Georgia Southern, South Carolina, Florida State) suggests that Muschamp will probably finish the season with a three-year mark of 23-15. Aside from the 11-win season that no one in the Sunshine State seemed to care about, the best thing going for Coach Boom is the fact that Foley hasn’t fared to well in his hires.
Zook: Gone in three years.
Urban Meyer: Two BCS titles but embarrassing off-field issues and a program in total disarray by the end of his six-year run. Oh, and he also ditched Florida for health reas… sorry, he also ditched Florida for Ohio State.
Now Muschamp. If Foley blows him up the next hire he makes — if it backfires — could be his last. He’s viewed as a great AD, yes, but if money declines thanks to lackluster football, a drop in booster checks, and a decline in attendance, someone will be held responsible. And Foley can only keep hiring short-timers for so long.
The temperature of Muschamp’s seat only emphasizes how much the game has changed. Coaches do not get time to build anymore. Just forget it. It doesn’t happen.
If the Gators’ current coach does finish the year at 23-15, he’ll have a winning mark of 60% in his first three years.
Bear Bryant wasn’t much of a fast starter, either. From 1946 through ’48 he won 64.5% of his games at Kentucky (20-9-2). From ’54 through ’56 he won 56.6% of his games at Texas A&M (17-11-2). At Alabama, he started 20-7-5 from ’58 through ’60 (62.5%). He also wound up coaching in Tuscaloosa for 25 seasons in and won six consensus national titles.
There are other coaches from past eras who started slowly only to build big winners. Tom Osborne, John McKay, Vince Dooley. Dooley had a winning percentage of just 64% after his first seven seasons in Athens. He’s third all-time in SEC victories in case you didn’t know.
This doesn’t mean that Will Muschamp is the next Bear Bryant. He may not be the next Osborne, McKay or Dooley, either (all guys who might not have made it if they’d started their careers in the current era). But he could be.
This isn’t the case of Vince’s son Derek at Tennessee. Three seasons, three losing records, zero growth. It’s not Ed Orgeron’s three-year stint at Ole Miss (where he finished 0-8 in the SEC in his final season). It’s not even Zook’s 8-5, 8-5, 7-4 run.
Muschamp won 11 games last year. Last. Year.
If Florida dumps him this season there’s no guarantee that Foley’s next hire won’t leave town under just as big a cloud as Zook, Meyer and Muschamp.
So far, Foley hasn’t given his coach a vote of confidence. He shouldn’t have to. Year One was a rescue mission as Meyer left the house on fire. Year Two was a damn good season for any rational fan outside of Gainesville. And Year Three has been undone by injuries and a bad offense.
Muschamp deserves another year at Florida to show that he can make the necessary changes to get the Gators back in the SEC championship hunt. Keeping him wouldn’t hurt the program. The Gators would still be the flagship football program in a talent-rich state with three national titles won since 1996 whether they can Muchamp in five years, next year or tomorrow morning.
Eleven wins in the SEC, folks. That cannot be ignored. Scratch that. That should not be ignored.