Muschamp’s Stubbornness, Refusal to Change Tactics Will Be His Downfall

We all know what I think about Will Muschamp. He’s a nice guy who’d make a good defensive coordinator, but he’s simply not head coach material. As it is, his job is currently on life support. But it was one trait- one characteristic of his- that led to making the exact same sort of mistakes time and again.

He’s a proud man. Actually, let’s spin that a different way. He’s a stubborn man. And his inability to realize when he’s wrong and make a change has led to countless tactical errors that will probably be what ultimately drives him out of Gainesville. The worst part? Florida’s current QB situation is the least of it. And I’m not talking about in game adjustments. I’m talking about long term changes.

Where to start?

He refused to fire offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis long after it was glaringly apparent to even the casual fan that they were incompetent. He can’t bring himself to realize that some games (Sugar Bowl, final games of Auburn and Miami rivalries and FSU/Georgia rivalries) mean more than others and refuses to prepare any more for them (Muschamp is 1-8 in those games. Coincidence?) than for Kentucky. He refuses to acknowledge that his Gators have had a major problem with beating themselves since he got there, and dismisses each self destructive performance with “we’ll fix it next game”. And now, he’s sticking with Jeff Driskel at QB despite Driskel’s obvious woes as Florida’s starter, and refuses to give Treon Harris a chance.

Notice one word a lot in that last paragraph? Refuse, refuse, refuse. There you have it. Muschamp refuses to believe that he’s ever wrong. Thus, I refuse to believe he’s long for his current job.

Let’s explore each of those examples in greater detail.

Miami’s 21-16 win over Florida was my first clue that the Gators were not in fact learning a whole new offense in 2012, and that Brent Pease did in fact simply suck at his job. With each game after that, the offense just got worse. By mid season, despite the laundry list of injuries, it was obvious that Pease didn’t know what he was doing. No need to go into that again; all that does is drive up our blood pressure. Let’s save that for issues that are still pertinent. But the fact is, Pease and Davis needed to go long before the end of the 2013 season, and Muschamp refused to do it.

I’ll take you back to right before the 2013 Florida-Georgia game. Florida was floundering, and I was warning Will Muschamp that a third straight loss to Georgia, and he deserved to be fired. And no, I wasn’t the only one saying that. Muschamp’s seat was already on fire. So what was wrong with giving Brian White or Joker Phillips a trial run as the offensive coordinator? At that point, the season was already lost, so why not go with something different to see if it worked? After all, letting Pease run the show (into the ground) clearly wasn’t working; what made Muschamp think it would work for the biggest game of his coaching career? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, so it’s fair to say that Will Muschamp is insane for letting Pease continue to call the shots, right?

It was only after Florida finished the year 4-8 that Muschamp got rid of the two buffoons, and I honestly believe Jeremy Foley forced the issue. Had Muschamp, at any point in the season, given Joker or White the chance the call the shots for a day, I don’t think he’d be in quite as much trouble as he’s in right now. Because at least that would have shown an interest to do his job as a head coach. Even if it was for just one game, against FSU at the end of the season, removing Pease from his OC duties would have proved a good faith effort in trying something different. It would have made fans think, “OK, there’s a lightbulb going off in the guy’s head”. Something that proved that he was trying to prepare for 2014. But no. That’s not Will Muschamp.

I mentioned the other day that Will Muschamp can’t win a big game if his life depended on it. OK, that’s not entirely true. He did win at Florida State. But that game is an anomaly. Check out these stats: 0-3 against Georgia, 1-2 against FSU, 4-12 against ranked teams, 0-1 against Auburn, 0-1 against Miami and 0-1 in BCS Bowls. While that number comes out to an appalling 5-20, you may be asking, “Well, how does this relate to Muschamp’s stubbornness?” The answer is because Muschamp proudly stated on BCS Countdown in 2012 (in response to how he was going to try to get a win in the Florida-Georgia rivalry) that he and his coaches donn’t work any harder for rivalry games than any other week. (Which I totally believe, because Florida looked equally as horrible against Georgia Southern and Vanderbilt as they did against Miami and Georgia.)

But Urban Meyer’s 22-3 record in BCS Bowls and SEC Championships plus games against Georgia, Miami, FSU and a Tennessee program that was leagues better then than it is now show what happens when you do put in more time for bigger games. It simply came down to Meyer realizing, “OK, I simply HAVE to win this game,” and the subsequent additional effort and work that he put in. Throw in the fact that Meyer is a really good coach, and there’s how you get that kind of record.

Muschamp? Nah. He doesn’t give a damn who the opponent is. Each game is the same, and doesn’t require any more work than any other. And that’s why he’ll always lose big games, because the opposing coaches realize the magnified importance of the game and outwork him. He’ll lose to Georgia for the fourth straight time, and it’ll be because the Dawgs will do something that catch the Gators off guard and burn them. Watch.

Then there’s the problem of self destruction. Penalties and turnovers have KILLED his teams since he got here. I’ve gone through the examples before, but I feel like I have to do it all over again. Penalties and turnovers have directly cost the Gators the following games:

-2011 Auburn (3 fumbled punts, 6 penalties)

-2011 LSU (2 turnovers, 12 penalties)

-2011 Georgia (2 turnovers directly leading to Georgia points and 14 penalties)

-2011 FSU (4 turnovers, three of which lead directly to FSU scores)

-2012 Georgia (6 turnovers, 10 penalties)

-2013 Sugar Bowl against Louisville (3 turnovers, 9 penalties)

-2013 Miami (5 turnovers, 10 penalties)

-2013 Missouri (3 turnovers, 8 penalties)

-2013 Georgia (face mask giving UGA the game winning first down)

-2013 Vanderbilt (4 turnovers, 11 penalties)

Then the Gators turned it over three more times against Alabama last week.

Don’t you think- at some point- that Will Muschamp would instill the discipline into his team not to turn the ball over and commit silly penalties? It’d be one thing if this was his first year, but it’s not. We’re in the fourth year of this experiment, and we’re still seeing penalties and turnovers being committed at an incredibly alarming rate. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, WILL. Recognize that this is a gigantic problem, enforce strict punishments on those who do it, take the team out for ice cream if they play turnover free ball, take them to a strip club if they play turnover and penalty free ball, I don’t care. Just do something- anything– that shows a legitimate effort to get rid of this self destructing epidemic. Any of that is better than what you’re doing now; rephrased to mean whatever you do to try to erase it can’t possibly be any worse.

And now we come to the issue that currently has Gator fans in a frenzy: Jeff Driskel vs. Treon Harris.

I like Jeff Driskel. I think he’s a nice, smart kid who makes good decisions in life and has a ton of natural talent. But that talent is not showing up on the field, and his confidence has been shot and killed somewhere along the way. That may well have been Brent Pease’s doing- screw you Pease for that- but the fact is, he is simply not an adequate quarterback right now. His decision making is not very good, his arm scatters passes everywhere, and he just doesn’t seem to have the leadership abilities to guide this team to win games.

Now allow me to ask the same question I asked about Brent Pease: why stick with somebody who’s clearly incompetent? Why not give somebody else a trial run? Does Muschamp not recognize that Driskel is not an effective QB? Is he blinded by Driskel’s 14-4 win loss record as a QB that doesn’t accurately depict Driskel’s level of success? Is he afraid to start a true freshman even though Clemson is doing just that after realizing that their veteran QB is not the best fit for the program? He’s put a lot of stock into Driskel. His undying faith in him- and refusal to give his backups a fair shot to beat them out- has caused Jacoby Brissett and Tyler Murphy to leave the program. So, going back in time a little to make this statement: his hunch that Driskel was really the best of them all better be right. Now fast forward to the present: guess what? It wasn’t. And now I believe he’s ultimately screwed.

Here’s what I’m really driving at: Muschamp has survived this far despite his pride and stubborn decision making. But he can’t survive much longer by continuing to stick with what doesn’t work. If Muschamp starts Driskel against Tennessee and Florida loses, I can’t imagine he’d be back in 2015 because it would show that he’s still too stubborn to admit when he’s wrong and make changes. If he starts Treon Harris and Florida loses, though, I would think he’d still have a chance to right the ship for the rest of 2014, because it’d be Harris’s first start, nerves, inexperience, etc.

But who am I kidding? That won’t happen. He’s going to stick with Driskel against a Tennessee team that’s craving blood after nine straight losses to Florida. Guess what else? Butch Jones is well aware of the importance of this game because of said nine straight losses to Florida, and is going to put in extra time in the office. Will Muschamp? Nah. It’s just another game to him. He won’t put in any extra time despite the fact that he’s likely out of a job if Tennessee wins next weekend. Florida will turn it over a bunch of times just like they always do in big games. And Florida very well may lose.

Am I wrong, Will? Is all of this not going to play out like that?

OK, then. Prove me wrong. Do something different. Make some changes. If you use this bye week to recreate the Florida Gators, eliminate the penalties and turnovers, give Treon Harris a chance at some point in the game (either start him or pull Driskel at the first sign of trouble), and win this game. Do all this, admit you were wrong to stick with Driskel for this long and I’ll admit I was wrong, too. Fair?

I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. I believe Muschamp is a really good guy off the field, and a great defensive coordinator on it. But unless he realizes that he’s not always right, and then goes about fixing the problems, he won’t survive another month.

5 thoughts on “Muschamp’s Stubbornness, Refusal to Change Tactics Will Be His Downfall

  1. It’s tough to differentiate between Muschamp the person and Muschamp the coach. You do a pretty good job of it. I don’t really like firing people. I can’t imagine it feels good. But when you accept a contract that pays as much as Muschamp’s does, it’s part of it. He’s just not a good fit. He’s got to go.

  2. Probably the best article you wrote on this subject. As a fan, I cannot stand the refusal to not make changes in season.

  3. If Harris does not get to see the field at least to see what he can do, WM is done. The DB’s are a mess and that all on WM. Our best coach is now in Seattle. The O line is not doing badly but not using more RBs is confusing.

    We can get it together BUT with our schedule I now see us winning maybe 6 games.

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