I want my football team back: Muschamp has crippled the Gator program

We really didn’t learn anything new on Saturday night in the Swamp. The exact same issues that have plagued Florida football since Will Muschamp took the reins of the program in 2011 cost the Gators yet another football game. Like I said the other day, I could break it all down, but why bother?

Did he do anything so egregious on Saturday night against LSU that warrants a firing by itself? No. He (and his team) just made the same old mistakes over and over again. Penalties and turnovers have killed this team week after week, and how does Muschamp respond to people grilling him about it? “We’ll get it fixed.” “That’s on me.” “That can’t happen if we want to win.”

NO KIDDING, EINSTEIN.

But here’s the part that the few people who still support Muschamp don’t get. Merely acknowledging a problem doesn’t fix it. Think about it like this. If you are addicted to a drug, and your family stages an intervention for you, the purpose of it is to get you well. The first step to fixing a problem is to admit you have one. But if you admit that you have an addiction, only to go right back and do the same drug the very next day, have you fixed the problem? You admitted it, right? You know, the same way that Muschamp apologists point at the fact that he admits that he knows his team has a problem self destructing. So by that logic, everything is OK, isn’t it? Problem is, it’s not.

Simply put, this team is addicted to self destruction, and Muschamp’s admittance of this problem has not done a damned thing to fix it.

A common response to that from the few supporters Muschamp has left is that the Gators have had penalty problems since the Spurrier days. You know what else we had under Spurrier? Break out your dictionary, because this may be an unfamiliar term for you: an offense. A good one.

Which brings me to my next point: under Will Muschamp, the Florida Gators’ offense has been the worst it has been in at least a quarter century. In each of Muschamp’s first three years at Florida, the offense has been ranked in the lowest 20% in the FBS. That’s bad enough to get a coach at Vanderbilt fired, yet somehow Muschamp came back for a fourth season. Jeremy Foley, who is oh so determined to prove that Muschamp was a home run hire, just shrugged it off as a bad offensive coordinator and made Muschamp hire a new one.

But here we are in his fourth year, and his third offensive coordinator, and the offense is still abysmal. Are you going to tell me that all three offensive coordinators- who were each deemed as a great hire- were all just that bad? Look at how insane that statement is. Charlie Weis had a fantastic track record at developing quarterbacks and directing explosive offenses. Brent Pease was the guy calling the plays for several years for that incredibly fun to watch Boise State team. Kurt Roper manufactured an explosive offense at Duke- DUKE, for God’s sake- and led them to an ACC Championship Game appearance.

Now, each of them come to Florida and suddenly the offense they’re in charge of magically sucks. Who’s really to blame for that? Think, Muschamp supporters. Which is more likely? That each of the three offensive coordinators who had done well enough at their previous schools to be considered great hires for the mighty Florida Gators all of a sudden forgot how to run an offense? Or that Muschamp is the common denominator and doesn’t allow his coordinators to do what they want- and do what made them so successful? Look at Auburn with Gus Malzahn. He came right in there after a 3-9 season, and boom, the offense went from listless to explosive in one year. Why can’t that be us? We recruit well enough for each and any of those three offensive coordinators to come right in and provide instant success, do we not? Shouldn’t those rankings translate into at least some offensive success? Or are those recruiting rankings blatantly lying each and every year?

Saturday was just the most recent of a long list of examples. We put 300 yards of offense on LSU; Auburn hung twice that on the same Tiger team the week before. Why can’t we be Auburn? Again, we recruit the same players as Auburn (and beat them out for a lot of them), don’t we? Why is this something we as Florida fans have to accept?

This isn’t Florida football, girls and boys. Florida football does not go three and out on a third of their drives, and Florida football does not consider a drive that picks up two first downs to change field position a successful one. It’s Muschamp football, and it makes me physically sick to watch. Even when this team wins, it’s ugly as hell, and I just can’t take it anymore.

Here’s the thing. Somehow, in this messed up world in the SEC East, the Gators essentially control their own destiny. Technically they don’t because Kentucky has to lose again, but with Georgia, LSU and Mississippi State still to play, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. This Gators team can win the SEC East, but it’s not going to happen with Muschamp at the helm. His teams display no ability to win big games, and from here on out, they’re all big games. Here’s betting that if Muschamp remains the head coach for the rest of the year, Florida finishes 7-4 at best, and maybe as bad as 5-6 (I think we’ll beat Vanderbilt and Eastern Kentucky regardless… though, yes, I’m aware… GEORGIA SOUTHERN and all). I’d love to be wrong, but I have this sickening feeling that we haven’t even seen the worst of this team yet. I have a premonition that Tevin Westbrook’s dropped touchdown will not be the most frustrating example of this team’s self destruction. Let’s wait and see.

Anyway, what I want to see happen is this (and I sort of covered this on Saturday, but I’ll go into greater detail here). Fire Muschamp, and give Kurt Roper the head coaching job on an interim basis while Jeremy Foley gets a head start on his search for a new coach. Do I think Roper is the right man for the head coaching job in the future? No, I don’t think he is. But “I don’t think he is” is a hell of a lot better than “I know he’s not”. It will also give Roper a chance to audition to potentially remain on staff as the offensive coordinator (depending on who Foley hires). If nothing else, it gives me a chance to prove that I’m right about my point regarding Muschamp handcuffing the offensive coordinators. Let’s see how this offense goes with Roper doing it his way, with nobody to tell him no.

I totally understand why this is extremely unlikely. Firing coaches mid season is the exception, not the rule, and plus, Foley has already said he’d give Muschamp the entire season. But I’ll say this. With Georgia and FSU still to play, Florida’s bound to lose again, and quite possibly in an even more frustrating manner than they did against LSU. I know this not from a crystal ball or a time machine, but from past experience with Muschamp. He’s 1-5 against Georgia and FSU. His teams are constantly among the most penalized and the most inept offensively; why should I believe that’s suddenly going to change now? None of this has been fixed within Muschamp’s first three and a half years, so why am I supposed to think Florida will magically turn into a disciplined team now? Exactly. I’m not supposed to, and I won’t. There’s still time to salvage this season- we can still make it to Atlanta and take home some bling (meaning an SEC East ring. Let’s be honest, we’re not beating the Mississippi or Alabama schools in the SEC Championship)- but it’s not going to happen unless a change is made.

In a crazed effort to prove to the world that he made the hire of the century, Jeremy Foley continues to give Muschamp chance after chance, week after week, and game after game to do something that gets Florida football some respect. Since Muschamp is incapable of doing that, this program has gone from football royalty to a crippled old man who needs a wheelchair to get around. You can’t just get “un-crippled” just like that. One big win over Missouri this week won’t erase all of Muschamp’s failures, and neither will beating Georgia, for that matter. Hell, at this point, nothing short of winning out would fix the program. One more SEC loss and this team will have gone four years without an appearance in Atlanta under Muschamp. That’s simply unacceptable.

We’re Florida. From the Fun N Gun, to the Tebow Touchdown machine, the Gators are historically an offensive powerhouse- and that has translated into championships. That’s gone, never to return as long as Muschamp remains the head coach. That’s been proven over the last three years and will continue to be proven week after week for as long as he remains employed. But again, we’re Florida. Why should we settle for this shit?

We shouldn’t; that’s the point. We deserve better, and I believe we’re going to get it. Unfortunately, I don’t believe we’re going to get it until after this season. And that’s a shame, because there’s still a legitimate, recognized championship that this team is very much in the running for. For Jeremy Foley to pass that up by giving the man he so deeply believed in more, unnecessary chances to prove that his home run hire was really a home run is just a damn shame.

I’m not asking to win national championships every year. I’m not asking to be Alabama, or the USC of last decade. I’m not even asking to be the Florida of the 90’s, where winning the SEC Championship was expected every year. That’s not realistic.

All I want is a football team that plays to its potential. All I want is an offense that makes the recruiting rankings look relatively accurate. All I want is an offensive coordinator who does the same things that made him successful enough to be hired at Florida in the first place, with similar results. All I want is a program that puts itself in the best position to win that they possibly can.

All I want is my Florida Gators back.

45 thoughts on “I want my football team back: Muschamp has crippled the Gator program

  1. Phenomenal piece, Neil. You usually do a great job expressing yourself but this was particularly well done. I held on to my Muschamp fandom a little longer than you, but by the end of last season I was totally onboard. This does a fantastic job, for lack of a better way to put it, explaining “Why Muschamp should be fired for dummies”. Because honestly, there are plenty of dummies out there who still believe in him, and at this point it’s laughable.

    Also: I hear you’re gonna be on Finebaum today? What time?

  2. Well done, man. Fire Muschamp now, before it’s too late to salvage an SEC East title out of the season. Those graphics showing dominance over Georgia and Tennessee will look that much better if we can add one more divisional championship to our trophy case. We won’t remember how bad this team was 40 years from now but we’ll always be able to look back and call this team champions of something. We will be able to count 2014 as an SEC East championship team.

    1. I wan not for dumping Muschamp but now I must admit, I was wrong.

      1st and Goal from the two and we can’t punch it in? Bring in a Fullback.

      I’m old school and I want to see Kerwin!

  3. Well said….and you did break it all down. Just in a different way. As a Gator fan I have said, I don’t advocate anyone losing his job but, Muschamp must go. Had enough, and I have seen enough.

  4. The Gators and fans didn’t care about penalties during the Spurrier and Meyer eras because the offense was a 25+ yard play waiting to happen. Since Muschamp’s philosophy seems to be 1 yard and a turd of dog poop, penalties matter more now.

    Neil, wonder if you can publish some of my old posts. I have been lamenting this clown since week 2 of 2011.

  5. Oh. And another reason we didn’t care much starting with Spurrier. Whether it was Shane Mathews, Terry Dean or Danny Wuerffel, one of them was lighting up Muschamp over the top to either Harrison Houston, Jack Jackson, Willie Jackson, Aubrey Hill, Reidel Anthony Ike Hilliard. Seems to be a trend – people opposing Muschamp aren’t worried about giving up penalty yards to him.

  6. Great piece- I agree with all of your points. I wish he was gone, but Foley will wait till end of yr.. It’s a shame- another wasted season. Next yr Bring in Mark Stoops and keep Roper.. We will East if it’s done. Plain and simple

  7. It’s actually sad that people have taken so long to recognize the real culprit behind this fiasco-The AD. He’s let his ego override any sense of duty or obligation in accepting this hire as a BUST. I really believe he’s made this story more about himself, simply because he could.

    There is no recovery for a coaching staff that loses to an FCS middle of the road school like Ga. Southern. I can assure you, Foley’s predecessor Mr. Arnsparger would have kicked Muschamp’s ass back to Rome Ga. after such a debacle. Foley however is unable to accept responsibility for a hiring mistake of this magnitude, and continues to enjoy impunity by virtue of a lame duck outgoing School President. Muschamp continues to enjoy his learning curve even in the face of repeated abject incompetence. The litany of his errors is beyond the scope of this reply.

    I’d be fine with Roper as an interim HC/AD until something more permanent could be arranged. Sorry, but if you can’t see that Foley’s time is done, take a long hard look at Ann Arbor, and the pain in the Wolverines are feeling.

    1. anyone who blames this on Foley has no idea what he has done for this institution. yes he missed on this hire and on zook…but he has made us an elite institution at the highest level athletically. anyone who calls for his head is a football only fan and is not a true Gator!

      1. He missed on his two football hires. He is trying to find his football Billy Donovan but the problem is nobody gives a hoot about who coaches teachers l transvestite backgammon, as football is THE mega bucks sport and the Florida job invokes the recall of something your Vice President said while running against your President; it’s not the kind of job that lends itself to on the job training.

        1. I enjoyed “transvestite backgammon”. It was a nice early clue that the famous “bone” is pissed.

          I’ve defended Foley for over a year now, but my patience is really running thin now. He’s determined to give Muschamp every opportunity to prove him right about hiring him in the first place. If he fired Muschamp now like USC did with Kiffin last year, we could promote Roper on an interim basis and see how that affects the offense. No more handcuffing the play calling, no more head man looking over his shoulder. Just let him run the team the way he wants to. There’s still an SEC East Championship to play for, and Muschamp has proven incapable of winning one.

  8. The sad thing is that FSU is really, really bad this year, and we’re going to waste a fantastic opportunity to wreck their season like we did in 1997.

  9. Dr. Stillmacher is correct. The one person responsible is Foley. This was never about getting the best available coach at UF but the best coach for him. He wants to make a coach not one that is already made. He didn’t like being inferior to Spurrier and that is what brought us Zook. Machen brought Meyer. Did he learn? Obviously not. Not only that he burned the bridges of most of our best boosters with the SOS/Zook fiasco. He’s got to go. I don’t care about being great in women’s croquet. UF is so demographically perfect for having the top athletic program in the SEC Barney Fife would be as so many Gator fans will claim “best AD in the country”.

    1. I totally agree with everything above. Way too many people have given Foley a pass and have conveniently overlooked his Zook-Spurrier fiasco. Apologists revert back to his Billy Donovan
      hire as a testament to his skill. There was nothing to lose at that time
      in Donovan’s hire. Billy’s success after Lon Kruger’s exodus (to presumably greener pastures at U of Illinois)
      was due to nothing but his outstanding skill, will, and determination. Foley loves to ride those coat-tails. Well, here’s the coat-tail a of a soiled garment he can also wear-the Muschamp failure.

  10. And why is Jeremy Foley making choices? Who has reigned over all of the Bullshit that has hobbled the Gators? JF, that’s who!!!! If it weren’t for his arrogance, we would be winning championships with Steve!!!

  11. From: “The Brat”

    …In 2004, the head coach’s job opened up at Florida, and there was mutual interest in Spurrier’s return. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley told Spurrier to send in a résumé, and Spurrier reportedly told Foley to go look in the Gators’ trophy case. Spurrier withdrew his name and instead accepted the South Carolina job…

  12. good article but Pease was only the OC at Boise for one year and he did not call the plays

    when Muschamp was interviewing it came down to Pease and Kerwin-I believe he hired Pease because he knew he could control him and control the offense because Peterson did so with Pease at Boise.

    I have no idea what possessed him to hire Weiss

    I agree it is past time for a change at the top

    1. True. but he was the associate head coach from 2007-2010. The point is that he had a big hand in the play calling. And that second point is funny. Remember Muschamp’s comment about “I hire guys for their opinions, I don’t want a bunch of “yes men”? That’s nothing but a bold faced lie.

      1. Disagree.

        He had Kellen Moore, a 4th year starter, who called his own plays at the line. It was Dirk Koetter’s O, modified by Dan Hawkins, then Petersen, then Bryan Harsin.

        I am sure I ranted once that I didn’t like Pease that he was a placeholder, maybe on the old firesteveadazzio site

    1. I’ll get to that in greater detail after our next loss (and trust me, that won’t be long).

      I pretty much agree with Tyler’s list. I’d also throw out Art Briles’ and Chip Kelly’s names as possibilities, because, hey, it’s worth a shot. You never know what they may say to a lucrative offer from the Florida Gators. Also, take out Dave Doeren and add Dan Mullen, but otherwise that’s exactly how my short list looks right now.

      1. Hey I was a huge Briles cheerleader years ago but the guy is Texas forever. He is not leaving the state, no matter what.

      2. I’m from the Philly area and really like Chip Kelly, but the Eagles are not going to let him go. After the Giants game last Sunday, the fans would go insane.

        1. Leach is awesome but:

          1. Boosters would never tolerate him.

          2. Meyer couldn’t get along with the media and he is benign. Leach would be a distraction.

          He would have been perfect as the successor to Spurrier.

  13. Fire Foley. Now. Hire Spurrier back as soon as you can, this time as AD, and let him build this program back up. Spurrier deserves to finish out his career back at UF.

  14. Muschamp is not great and not the long term answer, but this piece is rather whiny and simple minded. The reason national titles are so special is they are so difficult to win and rare. We are not going to win titles every other year, so we need to get over being spoiled brats. Furthermore, our titles came when the defense was at it’s best, players and DC. Offense is fun and part time fans seem to think its the end all, but any true Gator knows defense wins championships.

    1. I’m sure you’re a diehard Gator fan with good intentions, but this comment is rather off base and simple minded. Read the piece again. Nowhere did I say we should expect national championships every year or even every few years. In fact, I specifically stated that I was NOT asking to be an Alabama or USC of the last decade or even the Florida of the 90’s. And it’s true that defense wins championships. But not without an offense. See LSU-Alabama 2011

    2. Wrong.

      In the modern era, a good offense and OPPORTUNISTIC defense wins titles.

      Here are some facts from an old time Gator fan:

      1. when Florida had a weak D with a juggernaut O – they were still a force to be reckoned with.

      2. When Florida had a juggernaut O and a good D, they won titles.

      3. When Florida had a good D and anemic O, they lost to Big East schools and FCS teams and posted mediocre results.

        1. They didnt have a good D at the first of the year either.

          They had good athletes who didn’t perform.

  15. I’m sorry Gator Nation but Jeremy Foley is wrong. As a Gator Fan that was a sophomore during that 0-10-1 ’79 season, I remember what needed to be done. After the 1979 4-7 season (sound familiar) We fired the coach (Dickey), GOT NEW UNIFORMS and brought in Charle Pell. Yes we were 8-4 in 1980, but we still had not found our messiah. WE NEED an offensive minded head coach! Let’s look at the history of coaches since then.

    Defensive Coaches: Pell, Darnell, Zook, Muschamp. Overall winning percentage: 51.1% SEC Championships: 0, National Championships: 0.

    Offensive Coaches: Hall, Spurrier, Meyer. Overall winning percentage: 84.6% SEC Championships: 9, National Championships: 3.

    Now what does that tell you Mr Foley?

  16. AMEN AMEN AMEN ! My feelings 100% on the mark ! I’ve been saying the same thing for the last four years too !

  17. Listen, the problem isn’t Muschamp not letting the OC’s do what they want to do, the problem is HUGE misses in recruiting. NONE, not 1 of our WR’s would start for anybody in the league except for Vandy, KY or TN. Even those last 2 are big “if’s”. The OL which has played better, still isn’t up to everyday SEC caliber. You simply cannot make chicken salad out of chicken sh!t. It is Muschamp’s fault, if there’s anyone that cannot stand the man it’s me, but it’s not him hampering the play calling, it’s him and his staff missing on recruits.

  18. The recruit rankings are a bit of a farse, but look at what Mullen has done at Miss. St. They get everyone nobody else wants. All the 2 and 3 star guys that Bama, LSU, and Ga. pass on, yet they turn them into playmakers. There’s development. Jeff Driskel hasn’t gotten better, he’s gotten worse. Show me any player that has made ANY improvement on that team and I’ll kiss your ass. All of them are playing below their potential, which again, falls back on the coaching staff. That is another area where we have made huge busts in the recruiting game. We cannot seem to hire coaches either. Anyone, who thinks Chris Leak is a good coach should have his head checked! The guy he replaced wasn’t much better either (Joker Phillips definitely lives up to his first name). Bad in = Bad out, period point blank.

  19. This team is so broken that the coach has to be fired immediately. That’s the only way to win the championship this team is in a position to win.

    Phenomenal reasoning, Neil. It fails even on your own terms. That is . . . something special.

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