The University of Florida football program is at a crossroads. Does it fire Will Muschamp and begin a national search for a new head coach or forge on, in hopes that Muschamp can finish what he started? After Saturday’s loss to Vanderbilt – at home to the Commodores for the first time since 1945 … not to mention homecoming – the rumblings for change have now reached a deafening level from Gator Nation.
The Gators’ streak of 22-consecutive years in a bowl game is in serious jeopardy. Currently at 4-5, Florida has to win two of their final three games (at South Carolina, vs. Georgia Southern, vs. Florida State) just to finish .500 and become bowl eligible. Oh, and this is Muschamp’s second 4-game losing streak in his three seasons.
When Ron Zook was fired after three years on the job, his resume looked like this: 23-14 overall, 16-8 in the SEC and three bowl appearances (although he did not coach the Gators in the 2004 Peach Bowl) and he finished in the coach’s Top 25 all three years.
Compare that with Muschamp’s (current) Gators resume: 22-13 overall, 13-10 in the SEC, two bowl appearances and one national ranking. All of this for the tidy sum of $2,474,500 a season.
The staggering thing about Muschamp’s tenure is that he’s had talent to work with. Urban Meyer’s final three recruiting classes according to rivals.com were #3 (’08), #11 (’09) and #2 (’10). So it’s not like Meyer left the cupboard empty. Add that wealth of talent to Muschamp’s haul while in Gainesville: #12 (’11), #3 (’12), #4 (’13) and all the losing is dumbfounding.
It doesn’t look like the Gators have a talent problem. It looks like they have a coaching problem.
When Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley named Will Muschamp as the head coach, most everyone thought it was the right choice. But fast-forward three years and the cries for his ousting are at an all-time high. If Gator fans want Louisville’s Charlie Strong or Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin or Baylor’s Art Briles they better get ready to pay, because all of those men make almost identical money to Muschamp and their schools will be willing to pay top dollar to keep them.
It’s better to fire Muschamp a year too early than a year too late. I don’t want my next article to be an obituary about the Gators’ football program at the end of 2014.