Whether or not Urban Meyer left the Gators’ program in shambles is a big issues trending among Gator fans, and often Muschamp’s name comes up in this discussion. It goes one of two ways: Meyer crushed the Gators’ program, not Muschamp’s fault, or it wasn’t Meyer’s fault, 7-6 is inexcusable bottom line.
Meyer did leave Florida with some talent. There’s no question about that. On offense, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps terrorized defenses when healthy and Rainey was even in the Heisman race a third of the way into the season. Trey Burton, Andre Debose and Jordan Reed proved to be solid contributors, and Mike Gillislee has showed flashes of huge potential. Defensively, Meyer left Muschamp the pieces to the 8th best defense in the nation.
So I don’t want to hear this “Meyer left the cupboard bare” garbage. Maybe the Circle of Trust report hurt, but he definitely left Muschamp some talent to work with.
On the flip side, Meyer did allow the Gators’ offensive production to slip- a lot. This comes back to Steve Addazio. Here’s why I still hate him- had he been a good or at least competent offensive coordinator, Meyer’s respite wouldn’t have hurt Florida at all. For all we know, he was half asleep during the Dan Mullen years- we just don’t know. But had Mullen remained onboard for 2009 and 2010, I’m betting Florida’s offense would have been at least time and a half better than it was.
But here’s what I’m getting at- all the good and all the bad that’s going on right now was due to Meyer and his staff. Sure, Muschamp’s defense was 8 in the nation but that was with Meyer’s players. And sure, Muschamp is fully capable of recruiting the players to do even better, but he hasn’t yet at Florida. His track record at LSU, Auburn and Texas doesn’t help Florida at all. Brian Orakpo and Sen’Derrick Marx don’t play for the Gators. So sure, he very well might build his own dynamic defense in the future, so he hasn’t yet.
So hold off on all thoughts of him, good and bad. You can’t blame the 7-6 record on him because he didn’t have guys on offense to fit his philosophy. You also can’t praise him for getting through it and merely surviving it, because it was with all of Meyer’s players.
The true test will be next year.
But if you want something positive to end on, check this out. Some second year coaches at schools have unbelievable success compared to their first, especially in the SEC. Can Muschamp be the latest?
Nick Saban, Alabama
1st year: 2007: 7-6 (Def. Colorado in Independence Bowl)
2nd year: 2008: 12-2 (Lost to Florida in SEC Championship, lost to Utah in BCS Sugar Bowl)
Chip Kelly, Oregon
1st year: 2009: 10-3 (Lost to Ohio State in BCS Rose Bowl)
2nd year: 2010: 12-1 (Lost to Auburn in BCS Championship Game)
Gene Chizik, Auburn
1st year: 2009: 8-5 (Def. Northwestern in Outback Bowl)
2nd year: 2010: 14-0 (Def. South Carolina in SEC Championship, def. Oregon in BCS Championship)
Urban Meyer, Florida
1st year: 2005: 9-3 (Def. Iowa in Outback Bowl)
2nd year: 2006: 13-1 (Def. Arkansas in SEC Championship, Def. Ohio State in BCS Championship)