Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Muschamp hired at UF: If we can’t get them out, we breed them out.

Sunday December 12, 2010

The trouble with Florida is that it’s full of Gators. So why not go with a Bulldog?

Saturday evening news broke that the Gators had reached an agreement with Texas defensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp to replace Urban Meyer who had resigned earlier in the week. The move brought two questions immediately to mind:

  • Who, and how many, had to say "no" before the name Muschamp came up?
  • Who’s going to be on the staff?

The first question is really only interesting from a process standpoint.  The assumption along with Meyer’s resignation was that Dan Mullen would be the starting point of Florida’s search. Any other names would be speculation – we don’t know that Florida spoke with anyone but Muschamp.  It’s also common sense that feelers were put out to many more coaches with more experience. Georgia also went with an assistant with no head coaching experience for their last hire, and it worked out pretty well. The transition from career assistant to top dawg Gator is something to which Mark Richt can relate.

The second question is more to the point of how successful Muschamp will be as a head coach.  The Chizik story at Auburn should remind us all that a superstar coordinator can make even the most questionable hire look like a brilliant decision.  Mark Richt’s choice of defensive coordinator was a huge part of the run that led to two SEC titles in Richt’s first five seasons. The composition of Muschamp’s staff is almost as interesting as the choice of the head coach himself. With the presumed expertise of Muschamp on defense and with the importance of a strong offense in modern college football, Muschamp’s picks for offensive coaches will naturally receive the most scrutiny. 

The choice of Muschamp’s offensive coordinator will also lead to a related question:  what’s the future of the Mullen/Meyer spread option at Florida? Some variant of the spread is commonplace enough in college football today that it wouldn’t be a surprise for the new coordinator to have a somewhat familiar scheme, but it’s not likely to be a direct analogue.  Florida struggled in 2010 with round pegs at quarterback in the square hole of their offensive scheme, and Muschamp’s new staff will have the work of untangling that problem and the rest of the roster tooled for Meyer’s offense.

Though the spotlight will be on his picks for offense, it would be wrong to ignore the importance of Muschamp’s defensive staff. Again we go back to Chizik at Auburn.  Chizik was the defensive mastermind behind the undefeated seasons at Auburn and Texas in 2004 and 2005, but no one would argue that defense is the strength of his current team. Florida had a long and stable run on defense under Charlie Strong, but that came to an end in 2010. Florida’s defensive players will be facing their third different system in three years in 2011.  Muschamp’s skill and experience will help him with that transition, but he’s going to have a lot more on his plate than worrying about the defense.

Minus the head coaching experience, Muschamp has a lot of traits you’d look for in an SEC coach.  He’s been part of several winning programs, has coached under some of the best men in the business, knows and has recruited the South, and he brings the requisite energy and passion for the game. Florida and the rest of us now get to find out if he’s head coaching material.

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