To say patience is wearing thin or has already been worn thin in the Gator Nation is an understatement of a lifetime. This season is as bad as it has been in Gainesville dating back to 1979.
We can all look at many factors.
But in the end the responsibility does fall on the coaching staff and ultimately the head coach.
Having said all of that….
I will tell you not only why Will Muschamp will return to be the Gators head coach next season but also why he SHOULD return.
1. The glaring obvious….. the injuries are beyond comprehension. To say Muschamp was given a fair shake this year would be an extreme injustice. The number to know is 26, which is the number of scholarship players who have missed any time this season due to injury, thanks to Jonathan Bullard missing last Saturday’s loss to Georgia Southern with a knee injury. The more important number is 21, the number of players who have missed at least one full game with injury. Florida has also had 21 scholarship players miss at least one full game due to injury this fall. That number will go up to 23 after the Florida State game that Alex Anzalone and Michael Taylor will both miss. This team if “near” full health is easily an 8 win team if not more. With the talent on this roster, when healthy, would not lose to Vanderbilt, Georgia Southern, and most likely would not have lost to Georgia or South Carolina considering how close those two games were in the end.
2. Offensive woes do not completely fall on Will Muschamp. Even though in the end, the responsibility for the entire team falls on Muschamp’s shoulders, he is not the guy that should take the fall for the offensive pitfall Florida has experienced the last 3 seasons. Will Muschamp is a defensive minded coach and just as most defensive minded coaches do, they hire an offensive coordinator that not only can recruit for their offense but that can also handle 100% of the offensive responsibilities. Muschamp has to take some responsibility for the absence of any offensive fortitude. But a majority of the blame falls on the lack of creativity and horrible play calling from offensive coordinator Brent Pease. In many peoples eyes former OC Charlie Weis and current OC Brent Pease sold Muschamp on false expectations. Charlie Weis never had his heart in the Florida program and left as soon as he had a chance. I believe the hiring of Charlie Weis set the offense back at least a year. And let’s keep things in perspective with the Brent Pease hire. If anyone remembers Alabama head coach Nick Saban pursued Pease vigorously after his offensive coordinator Jim McElwain left for the Colorado State head coaching job. Many were under the impression that Pease was the sole proprietor of the Boise “high flying circus” offense. We know that now to be false. Muschamp was sold a “bag of dreams”. Muschamp does not need a Top 20 offense with his style of coaching and how great his defenses have historically been. But to have the 107th ranked offense is unacceptable and that is why Muschamp has terminated Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease and Offensive line coach Tim Davis (Who happens to be Muschamp’s best friend).
3. You have to think about the current and future recruiting classes. Recruits commit as much to a coach as they do a university. If Athletic Director Jeremy Foley were to fire Will Muschamp after this season, not only would current commits and targets go elsewhere, you probably would see a few current freshmen and sophomores transfer to other schools as well. You have to think long term when firing a head coach, especially a head coach that has secured such solid recruiting classes the last 2 years. We all know that big time college football is about developing players as much as recruiting them and I think Muschamp needs another season to develop the young talent he has right now.
4. This team, although hard to see now is headed in the right direction. As Coach Muschamp said in a press conference a month or so ago, “we live in an instant coffee society, everyone wants it right now”. Well that’s not reality. Most of Florida’s starters these last 2 months have been young freshmen and sophomores learning on the job. Due to all the injuries Muschamp has had to dig into the back of his lineup and start these really young players that were at their high school prom this past May. We need to see how these players from his first 2 recruiting classes turn out before we can judge his “talent development”. Florida is headed north with the recruits that are on the roster now and the ones that are coming in.
5. Let’s be realistic…. Who else is out there to hire? I’ve heard these last few days all these coaches that people dream of coming to coach at the University of Florida. I hate to break it to you guys… They aren’t coming! Charlie Strong makes more at Louisville than he ever would at Florida. Art Briles isn’t leaving a program that he practically built from the ground up and turned into an offensive masterpiece to “start all over” in the SEC. And do you really want to start throwing names out there of coordinators who have never been a head coach before? I mean seriously guys. You don’t know how those individuals will turn out. You are screaming about firing a guy who didn’t have any head coaching experience before coming to Florida, so lets replace him with someone else that doesn’t have head coaching experience? Muschamp may not be the most popular choice for people right now, but he is the best candidate at this time to be the head coach at the University of Florida.
Coach Will Muschamp was given a broken program that he needed to rebuilt from the ground up. Let’s all get off our high horse for a minute and give him another season with a healthy team and then we can judge what he is made of.
But, Coach Muschamp, you are on notice. The 2014 season will be the most important job interview of your career.