(Note: this is not the game recap. That will come later in the week, as we now have two weeks to dissect this game.)
In All Kinds Of Weather, we all stick together. It’s the basis of this website. It’s a string of words I try to live my life by. It’s also a phrase that has created quite a rumble among Gator fans lately.
It really does sound like a simple message, right?
Note the next line of the song, though: for FLORIDA. Not MUSCHAMP. I do love my Gators in all kinds of weather, but I will not unconditionally defend a coach who’s clearly not adequate at his job. The differences in interpretations of the song has caused a major rift between this site and its supporters and those who blindly defend Will Muschamp (though that number is rapidly shrinking). And now, those differences are starting to take a toll on the football team.
Throughout the article, I’ll touch on a few things I haven’t ever touched on yet. But sadly, the current problem starts with some of this team’s own fans.
This has been an interesting week for us at In All Kinds Of Weather, probably unlike one we’ve ever experienced before. We added a new staff writer in Rylan Romano, who I expect to continue doing great stuff for us. Other than that, though, it wasn’t all great. We were criticized by ESPN.com “writer” (word used loosely) Jeff Barlis in a series of tweets taking shots at our site’s name. You’ll see them a little later in the article; for now, keep reading until we get there. But while those tweets did receive a mostly negative reaction (roughly 85% of the people who responded sided with us), there were a few Gator fans- and you can put quotations around either of those last two words- who laughed along with his shots at us (given the timing of it, I think Barlis was actually taking aim at Rylan, but the all the writers of this site are unanimous in wanting Muschamp gone, so who really knows. And truthfully, I don’t care; he’s my writer and I’m going to defend him the way I’d defend myself, because anybody calling him out is just as wrong as they would be to call me out).
In short, what happened was that I had called for Muschamp to be fired mid season and to give Kurt Roper the reins on an interim basis. And Barlis laughed at that while I held my ground and continued to explain that the Gator football program was crippled. Most of you agreed, which is why I’m going to warn you that a lot of what I’m about to write is directed at the select few who were foolish enough to cling to Barlis like a crazed ex for the ensuing 48 hours.
What Will Muschamp has done in his Florida tenure is far worse than what Ron Zook did. Muschamp’s winning percentage is now a ghastly 56.8%, which makes Zook’s 62.2% winning percentage look like a Hall of Fame coach by comparison. At least Zook could beat Georgia. At least Zook didn’t lose to an FCS team. At least Zook left the team in a good spot for the next coach, whoever it may have been, to start with. Muschamp has done none of those things. In fact, his team’s ineptitude is starting to scare off some recruits, which makes me question this team’s future.
If you watched the Notre Dame-FSU game last night, you saw Travis Rudolph make a sweet move en route to a touchdown. Guess what? Rudolph was going to a Gator. But then Muschamp went all four and eight on us and Rudolph fled to Tallahassee and now he’s a star. Same with Dalvin Cook. Same with Ermon Lane. And rumor has it that Georgia freshman running back Sony Michel was quietly considering Florida- until the team went to the toilet. Who’s next? Which four or five star recruit is Muschamp going to scare off next with his team’s unacceptable performance?
In that article I linked earlier in this article, I stated that Muschamp needed to be fired immediately. Yes, the SEC East was within reach at the time (it sure as hell isn’t now!) but that was all the more reason to fire him before the Missouri game. We’ve seen what Muschamp’s teams can do- nothing good- so why give him the chance to derp around some more? Why allow him to kill another season in which a championship is attainable? My point was to give Roper a shot because we don’t know what he could do. OK, so we don’t know isn’t the most ringing endorsement you can possibly give a guy, but for the love of God, it’s more promising than “we know he is incapable of leading this football team”, right? So why not go with the unknown over the known ineptitude?
Matter of fact, I directly predicted that Florida would embarrass itself last night once more with Muschamp at the helm. No, really. Click the link and laugh sadly at what I wrote. Of course, that earned me some more flak on social media. So by the time the game got out of hand as I predicted it would, I had had enough. And I let Barlis have it for ridiculing us. You detect a little sarcasm there, Muschamp supporters? Good. Congratulations, you’re as perceptive as Muschamp. I told you exactly what was coming, and you either called me out for being a fair weather fan or laughed at me. Guess what, Muschamp defenders? I was right, and you were wrong.
But why stop there? Barlis, for all his faults, is FAR from the only offender. And at least he has an excuse to do it; he’s (somehow) a beat writer for ESPN; he has to stay neutral. While he never should have tweeted what he did about us, the blame lies just as much with those “fans” who agreed with him- and who blindly defend Will Muschamp.
Which is why I’m going to say this: if you continue to support Will Muschamp, or if you call me or my writers out for failing to do so, you are a bad fan. I know, In All Kinds Of Weather. I’ll refer you back to earlier in this article; the song continues for F-L-O-R-I-D-A. For the good of the program. Muschamp is detrimental to the program; therefore, supporting him means you are supporting something that anybody with a grain of common sense knows is ultimately going to fail (and we have three and a half years’ worth of proof of this).
What people like the ones who blindly defend Muschamp, from Barlis to random people with twitter accounts, do is something called enabling. Jeremy Foley, for all the wonderful things he has done at the University of Florida (24 national championships throughout all sports in his 22 years at UF) is scrambling right now, desperately trying to find some reason to believe that Will Muschamp was the right hire. There’s no doubt that there were better coaches out there after Urban Meyer resigned in 2010, but instead, he went out on a limb and made a gutsy hire in Muschamp, and now he’s trying to justify it. Let’s face it, the on field statistics don’t help his argument. So he’s looking for something- ANYTHING- to even hint at the fact that he might not have made the worst hire of his 22 years as AD. And the sad thing is, those who continue to directly support Muschamp give him the weakest reason possible not to fire him- but it’s a reason nonetheless.
And I’ll say it again. In All Kinds Of Weather, I will always be a Gator fan. I will always want the best for the Gators. Unfortunately, as much as I like Will Muschamp as a human being, him coaching the Florida Gators is not what’s best for the Gators. And yes, that most definitely does mean that I love and care for the Gators.
Consider the following analogies. We all love somebody in our lives, right? We all have people we need to look after. When they do wrong, how do you react? Think about that, now.
When your 12 year old son punches a girl in the face at school and really hurts her, and you get called into the principal’s office to deal with him, what do you do? Do you congratulate him? “Hey, nice shot big guy, you made her nose bleed! High five!” Do you buy him ice cream? Or, best of all, tell the principal to back off with the criticism and leave him alone and that you love and support your son in all kinds of weather?
That was fun; let’s try another. Now you’re a college student (like me, and I actually have dealt with this before). You’re at a party. One of your best friends wants to experiment with crack. Do you let him do it? Do you allow your deep level of care for your best friend to interfere with your better judgment- or worse, allow him to do it on that basis? Do you just say, “in all kinds of weather I support you, go ahead!”?
See, loving somebody (or something) does not always mean you agree with every move they make. Of course you punish your son for hitting another child. Of course you do all in your power to stop your best bud from trying crack. Does that mean you don’t care a great deal for them? Absolutely not. Sometimes, you have to step in and express disagreement (and then do something about it, but that’s not applicable as we can’t fire Muschamp ourselves) with a decision they make in order to make them better in the long run. But by the logic of the blind Muschamp defenders, it’s completely OK to agree with what somebody or something you love does regardless of the potential ramifications, no matter how drastic.
So, let’s be clear: if you continue to call me, or anybody else out for not being true fans because we are critical of Will Muschamp after the 42-13 beatdown we received at the hands of Missouri last night, you are expressing support for your son’s decision to punch a girl in the face, or your friend’s decision to experiment with crack. We are true fans because we see a problem and want fix it in order to provide a net positive result for Gator football, and you are bad fans for supporting something that three and a half years of experience have proven will not work. Really, now. That’s what you Muschamp apologists call a true fan? Supporting something that greatly damages the program? Anybody with a thimbleful of sense knows that there’s something wrong with this line of thinking.
I do want to be clear with one thing, though. This isn’t including those who boo players; I don’t agree with that. The players are just college kids, like me. That’s not fair. But Muschamp is not a kid. He is a professional who makes millions of dollars to coach this team, and so he deserves every word of criticism aimed at his ability to coach that he gets.
Now, onto Jeremy Foley.
I can’t say enough about the job Foley has done overall as the AD. But at the same time, he’s clearly not doing the smart thing by keeping Will Muschamp on staff. So, my thoughts? Foley made a mistake. We all make them; we’re all human. But by refusing to fire Muschamp for as long as he has, he is compounding the mistake and turning a simple error in judgment into a nightmare for Gator Nation. I just beg of him to correct the mistake now before it hurts us any more than it already has. Meaning, before we lose our fourth straight to Georgia.
But he’s in a tough position, you might say. Firing a coach mid year could hurt recruiting, and plus, who’s going to coach the team the rest of the season? I realize it’s tough for Foley to swallow crow and fire Muschamp now, but I don’t care. He is making millions of dollars to be the athletic director at the University of Florida. This is a part of his job. He needs to do that job now the same way he did it to bring home 24 national championship trophies. Recruits aren’t stupid. They know Muschamp is on his way out eventually- and that’s for those who haven’t even decommitted in their minds yet on the grounds that this current football program is a disgrace.
At this point, I’m not even mad. I knew it was coming. Too bad not everybody else did. I involuntarily erupted in hysterical laughter when Frankie Velez’s extra point was blocked following the Gators’ second touchdown, because if I didn’t laugh, I would have cried. Of course it would get blocked. It epitomized the night perfectly.
The thing is, though, there’s still a lot to play for this year. We have a chance to end our three years of misery against Georgia in two weeks in Jacksonville, and we have a chance to crush FSU’s dreams of a national title before they even get the chance to play for it (let’s face it, losing at home to a three loss- and that’s at best- Gator team would send their stock way down). And we have a chance to finish on a high note, which is always good as it would give new recruits reason to believe that Muschamp was really the problem and that a new coach would fix it.
But none of that’s gonna happen with Muschamp. We all know that by now, and if we don’t, we are in some serious denial that only a licensed therapist could break.
And so I’m signing off for the day (go Giants, beat Dallas) with this:
Please, Jeremy Foley. Overall, you are a great athletic director. You have said over the years that if something must be done eventually, it must be done immediately. Firing Muschamp is going to have to be done eventually. He’s simply awful at leading this football team. So do it immediately. Do it now. Not after we lose to Georgia for the fourth straight time, not after we choke against another FCS team we paid almost a million dollars to come take their beating in the Swamp, and not after FSU humiliates us for the second straight time. NOW. Fire him NOW. NOW NOW NOW NOW. Make Kurt Roper the head coach for the rest of the year, because he can’t possibly be any worse than Muschamp.