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.