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Despite Loss To Ga. Southern, Muschamp Expected Back In 2014

will-muschamp-huh-faceAccording to The Orlando Sentinel, anyone hoping an embarrassing loss to Georgia Southern… of the FCS… in the Swamp… would lead to Will Muschamp’s ouster can forget it.  Athletic director Jeremy Foley still stands by his endorsement of the embattled third-year coach, according to Florida senior administrator Steve McClain.

The Gators continue to rack up the injuries, losing more bodies during Saturday’s upset.  They’ve now lost six straight games.  They won’t be going bowling.  And the offense — with a third-string quarterbacks running it — looks completely impotent.

But…

The Gators are coached by the same man who was SEC Coach of the Year last year.  Ron Zook — that comparison is getting so very old — never approached an 11-win season or a major bowl game.  Which is why Florida is wise not to judge its coach on this year alone.  Heck, take it from Muschamp pal Jimbo Fisher, the coach of Florida State and the man most likely to hand Florida its eighth loss of the year on Saturday:

 

“Will’s a heck of a football coach and a good guy.  You have injuries and things that go on.  You can’t judge a person on one season.  Will’s a heck of a football coach.  He’s a great friend, but he’s a heckuva football coach.  I’ve coached with him.  He does a great job at Florida.  I’ll guarantee you this: They’ll be ready to play when we go down there next week.  I know that.”

 

So you’re saying he’s a heck of a football coach?

Yes, it’s a bit self-serving for Fisher to talk up the Gators and Muschamp before he plays them.  The man’s in a BCS title race and he doesn’t need people talking down his schedule.  But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong about judging a coach on one season alone.

Examples:

 

*  A team goes 6-6 in its regular season and loses to Louisiana-Monroe at home.  The coach?  Alabama’s Nick Saban in 2007.  We know what he’s done since.

*  A coach goes 5-6 and getting crushed by Kentucky 33-0 at home and losing to his team’s three biggest rivals.  The coach?  Georgia’s Vince Dooley in 1977.  Dooley won a national crown three years later.

*  A coach opens the season 0-6 (with losses of 25 to LSU, 32 to Auburn, and 28 to Washington State) before finishing 5-6.  The coach?  Tennessee’s Johnny Majors in 1988.  Majors went 29-6-2 and won two SEC titles over the next three seasons.

 

Good coaches can suffer through bad seasons and bad breaks.  The book on Muschamp suggests there is a high side to ability.  This season — Gators fans must hope — would be the low side.  But Florida is wise to give Muschamp one more year to make that point clear.  Even after Saturday’s miserable defeat.

Hiring a four new coaches in a 13-year span is no way to build a stable, successful football program.

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Florida’s Second Half Rally Spoils Aggies SEC Debut, Georgia’s Second Half Crushes Mizzou

Florida 20 – Texas A&M 17

1. Gators grind it out at Kyle Field.  Will Muschamp: “We’re going to have a lot of games like this. It’s who we are.”

2. Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel completes 13-of-16 for 162 yards.

3. “It’s progress when the Twitterverse isn’t calling for Ron Zook to replace Muschamp only two games into the season.”

4. Texas A&M lost five second-half leads last year – do it again to open 2012. Texas A&M linebacker Sean Porter: “You shouldn’t lose games because of mental mistakes.”

5. Aggies defensive line sacked Florida QB Driskel eight times Saturday. 

Florida – Texas A&M Video Highlights

Georgia 41 – Missouri 20

6. 24-0 second-half run for the Bulldogs turns a close game into a blowout. Gary Pinkel: ”You can’t make the kind of mistakes we made in a game like that and survive.”

7. With an interception and then forcing a fumble, star Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones was a difference maker.

8. “Old man” football?  Georgia wide receiver Marlon Brown: “It definitely made us mad.”

9. Result -“grown-man” football.”

10. “(W)hat happens when the defense isn’t there to save the day?”

Georgia-Mizzou Video Highlights

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Writer: Muschamp Will Feel Pressure Due To “Underachieving” Football Program

At Florida, winning isn’t the only thing.  Winning championships is the only thing.  And that’s going to up the pressure on new football coach Will Muschamp according to at least one writer.

Gene Frenette of The Florida Times-Union says that UF’s football program is now behind other Gator programs that are competing for national titles.  While titles in smaller sports might now wow football fans, Frenette says, “they carry immense weight for UF athletic director Jeremy Foley, who happens to be Muschamp’s boss.”


“Foley might be the greediest college administrator in America.  The man wants every SEC title, every NCAA trophy, every All-anything that his teams can lay a hand on.

The downside, of course, is Foley’s patience for those not contending for conference or national titles runs out pretty quickly.  In Foley’s house, coaches either acquire goodwill chips by consistently getting in some kind of championship hunt or they’re sent packing.”


Muschamp then draws the dreaded Ron Zook comparison and it’s pointed out that five-loss season this year is not outside the realm of possibility.  And UF coaches under Foley don’t get too many five-loss seasons.

While we think it’s rather silly for “hot seat/feeling pressure” stories to be popping up regarding Muschamp before he’s even coached a game, the fact that this column was penned shows exactly where the expectation levels in Gainesville are these days.

You win big every year and right off the bat or else someone will start to speculate about your job security.  Amazing.

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National Writers Grade Football Coaching Hires

Yesterday must have been national “grade the coaching hires” day at the big sports sites.  Both Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com and Stewart Mandel of SI.com handed out their grades and/or rankings for America’s newest batch of college football coaches.  Their thoughts on Will Muschamp to Florida and James Franklin to Vandy?  We thought you’d never ask:


Will Muschamp

* Mandel gave the hire a B with an asterisk.  “Muschamp fits a similar profile to former Florida defensive coordinator Bob Stoops at the time Oklahoma hired him.  He knows how to recruit and motivate.”  The asterisk — and a downgrade from B+ — came because of “Muschamp’s bizarre hiring of Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator.”

* Dodd ranks Muschamp’s hiring as the #1 hire in the nation (out of 21).  “Florida should expect to compete for the SEC title quickly and win a national championship eventually under Muschamp.”

Our take:  We see nothing wrong with the hire of Weis as offensive coordinator.  He’s a big name and he can recruit offensive players.  He’s not the head coach, he’s the coordinator… and he’s always been pretty darn good in that role.  We agree with Dodd that UF should expect to compete for titles under Muschamp.  But with Florida’s money, facilities and recruiting base, we’d have said the same thing even if Jeremy Foley had re-hired Ron Zook.


James Franklin

* Mandel gave Vandy’s hire a B grade as well.  “It’s hard to gauge much from his time at Maryland, but the school’s previous administration thought highly enough of him to name him Ralph Friedgen’s head coach in waiting.”

* Dodd ranks Franklin’s hiring #16 out of 21 coaching moves this offseason.  “Just when you thought Vanderbilt had sacked up and decided to pretend like it was serious about football, it seems to be slipping back.  I’d blame the athletic director, but Vanderbilt doesn’t have one.”

Our take:  So Mandel grades Franklin’s hire as being equal to that of Muschamp’s?  Muschamp was chased by Tennessee last offseason.  His name has always been on the “potential next guy” lists of Georgia and LSU fans.  His roots are deep in SEC soil.  On the flip side, Franklin (and his staff) have few ties to the Deep South recruiting zone.  And Maryland’s current administration let Franklin walk in order to go hire… Randy Edsall?  Who knows who’ll be better in the long run, but on the front end, Franklin’s hiring does not rival Muschamp’s.

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2003 LSU Coaching Staff Full Of Future Head Coaches

If you take a look at the coaching staff for the 2003 national championship-winning LSU Tigers, you’ll see a lot of familiar names:


Nick Saban — Head Coach

Kirk Doll — Linebackers

Derek Dooley — Special Teams/Running Backs

Jimbo Fisher — Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks

Stan Hixon — Wide Receivers

Travis Jones — Defensive Line

Will Muschamp — Defensive Coordinator

Stacy Searels — Offensive Line

Lance Thompson — Tight Ends/Recruiting Coordinator

Tim Walton — Defensive Backs


Nick Saban, of course, has moved on to Alabama where he won another national crown last season.

Derek Dooley just finished his first season as the head coach at Tennessee.

Jimbo Fisher took Florida State to the ACC Championship Game in his first season as head coach in Tallahassee.

And Will Muschamp has just taken over the head coaching duties at Florida.

That’s four coaches off of one staff who’ve gone to become head coaches at other Southern powers.  Not bad for one staff, huh? 

Makes you wonder how that bunch ever lost a game to Ron Zook and Florida that year.

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SEC Headlines – 12/16/10 Part Two

1.  Dan Mullen’s team had a “sloppy day” at practice yesterday.

2.  Mississippi State whipped Belhaven 101-76 in an exhibition game last night, but Renardo Sidney’s debut was dulled by cramps.

3.  If Sidney doesn’t turn out to be great — not good, but great — this writer says “Rick Stansbury and Mississippi State will look like fools” for investing so much time and energy in landing him.

4.  The Ole Miss quarterback situation in 2011 looks be about as unsettled as a quarterback situation can be.

5.  Excited about Will Muschamp, Gator fans?  Good.  ‘Cause the price for your tickets is going up next year… after a 7-5 season.

6.  This writer suggests the Florida-Florida State rivalry start using the Muschamp/Jimbo Fisher jointly-owned beach house as its trophy.

7.  Ron Zook says Muschamp will do fine in Gainesville.

8.  Nose guard Kwame Geathers wants to have a bigger impact for Georgia next year.  (Bigger than eight tackles?  Pshaw.)

9.  Mark Richt knows that the possibility of losing a few of his junior players is “just part of college football today.”

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Meyer, Mullen Wednesday Wrap

A few final points to think about on Wednesday night…

* While various reports from Mississippi and Florida say Dan Mullen has already received an offer to replace Urban Meyer, Jeremy Foley suggests that’s not so.  The Florida AD said today that he hasn’t contacted anyone yet and that he hopes to have his search completed in “two, two-and-a-half weeks.”

* Brandon Marcello of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger has tweeted that he “asked Dan Mullen via text (between 6 and 7pm ET) if he’s happy and committed at Mississippi State.  ’Absolutely,’ he responded.”

* Mullen also said kind words about Meyer.

* Meanwhile, Meyer said that this year’s decision was “completely different” from last year’s decision to step down.  ”I have not seen my two girls play high school sports.  I can’t get that time back.”  (One has to wonder — as Sandra Golden of CSS’ “SportsNite” speculated earlier this evening — if the wall-to-wall news coverage of Elizabeth Edwards’ death yesterday prompted Meyer to re-think his own priorities.)

* Interestingly, Foley said that he doesn’t feel guilty for talking Meyer out of his retirement last year.  ”He’s at peace with his life.  He wasn’t at peace a year ago, and this institution helped him get there.”  Actually, it sounds like giving up football helped him get there.

* Everyone from Frank Beamer to Erin Andrews weighed in on Meyer’s departure.

* Florida recruits were shocked by the news.

* Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun suggests that Meyer might have hurt his legacy a little by coming back for one last season, but it’s still a darn good legacy.

* Pat Forde of ESPN isn’t completely buying what Meyer was selling at his press conference this evening.

* MrSEC.com’s ranking of the potential replacements (in terms of likelihood) goes like this:

1.  Dan Mullen — Knows the administration.  Knows the program.  Knows the offense.  Knows some of the current players.  Has recruiting ties in the state.  He provides the smoothest transition possible.

2.  Kyle Whittingham — Has kept Utah in the polls and whipped Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two years ago.  Also keep in mind that UF president Bernie Machen also came from Utah.

3.  Chris Peterson — Has a track record of success at Boise State.  Took over a solid program from Dan Hawkins and has actually built it up further.

4.  Charlie Strong — The Co-Coach of the Year in the Big East.  Strong is Mullen’s equal in all ways but two: he only has one year of head coaching experience and he’s a defensive guy, not an offensive guy.

5.  The Field — Lotta longshots when it comes to the Stoops and Grudens of the world.  Gruden’s an NFL guy.  Stoops will see his Big 12 path to a BCS bid get even easier with Nebraska and the league’s championship game going bye-bye.

* Foley gets tons of credit for being the best AD in the country but let’s remember his budget.  With Florida’s money (and recruiting base), he has a whole lot to sell to prospective coaches.  Still, this man is now one for two in hiring football coaches.  Ron Zook was no Urban Meyer.  The Florida job is so good that it’s hard to imagine someone being a bad hire.  But bad hires are out there.  The pressure’s on Foley to avoid them.

* It’s only a matter of time before  a few conspiracy theories start popping up out there:

1.  Meyer is leaving for a job with the Denver Broncos or Dallas Cowboys.  (Not buying it.  Does Meyer look like he wants to coach anytime soon?)

2.  Meyer is getting out of Gainesville before the Cam Newton mess — including the leaked academic fraud — traces back to him.  (Not buying it.  Even if he leaves, the media, the NCAA and the FBI aren’t going to stop digging for dirt on Newton… regardless of where it leads.)

3.  Meyer is quitting because he has bigger health concerns than he’s letting on.  (Unlikely.  He was open about his esophageal spasms when doctors gave him a diagnosis last spring.  If he says this has more to do with family than with his health, I’ll believe him.)

4.  Meyer is quitting because the losses and the Newton controversy took a big toll on him.  (This one I’ll buy.  ’Cause it’s really not that far-fetched.  Sure the coach might want to spend time with his family, but getting your brains kicked in by South Carolina and Florida State can do that to you.  And the Newton story is a biggie.  In addition to being second-guessed about his team and his staff, Meyer was also questioned about letting Newton leave.)

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