Now that the season’s over, and the anger, frustration and other emotions that have been possibly affecting my judgment on Will Muschamp are gone, I thought it would be a good idea to sit down and discuss whether or not he should come back next year from an objective standpoint.
I still think he should’ve been fired after last year’s debacle, while Neil Blackmon says he should be given another year. So here’s our full email discussion:
ME: My personal opinion is that Muschamp should not be given 2014, and I have several reasons for this.
-One, his teams commit lots of turnovers at most inopportune times (FSU 2011, Georgia 2012, Louisville in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, Miami 2013). It’s directly cost Florida those rivalry games, and I feel that the Gators were definitely the better team in all three of those games, except for maybe the FSU game. He’s been here three years now- if he can’t fix this in three years… when are we supposed to ever get this fixed?
-Two, his teams are extremely undisciplined and frequently get caught doing silly things, such as Clay Burton’s personal foul against Miami, Solomon Patton’s against Georgia, Keanu Neal’s against GSU. You could even say his Gators have earned a reputation for being downright unsportsmanlike at times, like when Ronald Powell spat at a Florida State player, Dante Fowler seemingly attempting to gouge Todd Gurley’s eyes and Marcus Maye doing something similar against GSU. Again, Muschamp has now been here three years… how much longer are we supposed to give him to clean this up?
-Three, the offense is anemic, and has been throughout his time in Gainesville. In each of Muschamp’s three years, the offense has ranked worse than 100 out of 123 FBS teams. You can blame it on the coordinators (Charlie Weis, Brent Pease), but Muschamp hired both of them. Sure, Roper seems like a good hire, but Gator fans were jumping up and down at the last two, and both failed miserably. Why should I believe this one will work out? Third time’s a charm, maybe?
-Four, Florida lost a football game to Georgia Southern, a team that was not only in the FCS, but went just 6-4 in the FCS… at home in the Swamp. No further explanation required.
-Five, Muschamp’s record at Florida is 22-16. That’s worse than Ron Zook. Also, before Muschamp came along, Florida had not lost more than five games in one season since 1979. They’ve now lost six or more games in two out of Muschamp’s three years.
NEIL BLACKMON: Jeremy Foley isn’t ready to fire Will Muschamp yet and neither am I.
That said, I’m not as convinced as Foley is (at least in his public statements) that Muschamp is the right guy to fix the football program. I just think that the optics of firing him at this point are dreadful (more on that below), and I believe he deserves one more year to prove he’s the guy.
Maybe the best thing to do here is to respond to some of your points- because I think you lay out the case for moving on as well as anyone I’ve read.
A couple of your points are simply inarguable. Yes, Muschamp’s teams are woefully undisciplined and it does seem like the penalties (and to some extent, the turnovers) come at inopportune times. And inopportune is being friendly.
And you didn’t even mention the Chris Johnson personal fouls and ejection in the Sugar Bowl– all coming at the only moment in the football game when Florida had any semblance of momentum.
There is also no question that Florida simply can’t lose to Georgia Southern. That should never
happen at Florida. I’m of the mind that losing seasons shouldn’t really happen at Florida either, if you are recruiting properly and execute even reasonably well, there is no reason Florida shouldn’t limp to 7-6 in any given bad year. Think of that this way: Florida State was 6-6 a couple of times under Bowden at the end of his tenure– and those teams had markedly less talent than this year’s Florida team entered training camp with. Yes, they played in the ACC, but there was never a Georgia Southern moment. They did get shut out at home by Wake Forest. But that was as bad as it got. Florida probably shouldn’t ever lose to Vanderbilt, James Franklin or no- they certainly shouldn’t lose to Georgia Southern.
That said, I think there is a reasonably strong case for keeping Muschamp now. The best argument, in my view, looks like this:
1) There aren’t many historical parallels for the type of injury-riddled season UF suffered this year. Florida lost double-digit starters for multiple games, and at least three of those players: Dominique Easley, Marcus Roberson and Chaz Green, were All-SEC caliber type talents. Jeff Driskel’s loss was also very difficult to swallow, if only because Driskel left no heir with any game experience and Muschamp specifically had Brent Pease tweak the offense to protect him better in the summer, understanding the Gators might be sunk if he were injured. The great irony there, of course, is Driskel was injured in the pocket, not running, which is what Muschamp was afraid of in the first place.
2) The injuries were worse because Florida lost SIX players to the NFL who now start or play regularly in that league: Caleb Sturgis (starter, great year), Matt Elam (starter), Jelani Jenkins (regular contributor), Jon Bostic (spot starter after Lance Briggs injury), Jordan Reed (viable offensive rookie of the year candidate until concussion ended season) and Shariff Floyd (starter by season’s end, great second half). Now, for whatever reason, not too many writers were concerned about that attrition at the beginning of the year. I thought they should have been, particularly at PK, LB and TE. I think there was some feeling that Austin Hardin would be ready because, well, he was highly touted and UF always has a good kicker, save 1998, and there was comfort at LB because, well, Antonio Morrison made a nice play in the FSU game. That proved to all be false. Yes, Muschamp has to develop players better– but you develop slowly in any program, and injuries accelerated that process and the warts showed.
3) Will Muschamp went to the Sugar Bowl last year. This is partly the optics argument: Florida hired the Texas coach-in-waiting in late December 2010. He was the hottest young coaching prospect available. If he’s fired after an injury-decimated year one year removed from leading the program to its ninth Sugar Bowl– well, who the hell wants that job? Foley understood this, and I think it was heavily influential in his decision process. I do not deny the fact that Florida was embarrassed in that game, but I also remember Florida beating four top ten ranked teams to get there. There’s something that should be said about that.
4) There are indicators that Muschamp can coach, and do it well. He’s the last head coach to defeat Florida State in a game of football. Before Michigan State beat Urban Meyer, he was the last head coach to defeat Ohio State in a game of football. This afternoon, Steve Spurrier won 11 games in a season for the third year in a row, at a place where they often didn’t do that over two years. His worst defeat in that time span? A blowout defeat to Will Muschamp. Muschamp has proven adept at halftime adjustments in all three of his years– which raises questions about why his teams start so slow– but it remains true that wins over LSU in 2012, Tennessee in 2012 and 2013, FSU in 2012, and Texas A & M in 2012 were largely about Muschamp making great adjustments at halftime.
4) Finally, his defenses have always been competitive: 8th in Total Defense despite injuries in 2013; 5th in 2012; and 8th in 2011. To me, that suggests that if Kurt Roper can make the offense competitive, Will Muschamp, who no one doubts is a defensive guru, should succeed.
Are there questions? Yes. But I think Muschamp should get 2014 to answer them.
ME: I’m glad to see you can look at it from my side. That’s respectable of you, but it also raises the question: if even Muschamp’s supporters are wavering in their support, what’s left? How many people are going to fill the seats next year? I’m assuming only the most loyal fans- the Muschamp apologists- would even bother buying tickets, and if those same people admit that there’s an excellent case for him to be fired… my voice trails off and most people can finish the sentence for me.
I didn’t even mention the Sugar Bowl at all, because… why bother? Everybody already knows the Gators didn’t show up that day, but gave Muschamp a reprieve because of crunch time wins at Texas A&M, at FSU, and against LSU at home. But now, I think maybe it’s worth another mention because, well, if you can’t get your team excited and ready to play in the Sugar Bowl, one of the great stages in all of college football, there’s a problem. But a lot of Muschamp apologists are using it as supporting evidence nonetheless. So yes, Muschamp did guide Florida to the Sugar Bowl, but I’m wondering if other people remember what actually happened once Florida got there and the game started.
Louisville scored more points than Florida, yes, but 3 turnovers and 9 penalties was the final score I’ll always remember, along with the single dumbest penalty I’d ever seen on Chris Johnson that you mentioned (Clay Burton v. Miami and Solomon Patton v. Georgia have subsequently earned a tie for the dumbest in my mind) and a general apathy of being in the SUGAR BOWL. In the biggest game of these kids’ lives… that just can’t happen.
Also, I’m not sure if anybody can really grasp just how bad that Louisville team was. They lost to an 8-5 Syracuse team and a UConn team (at home, no less) that was 5-7 and didn’t even go bowling. Problem is, Florida made them look like All-Americans, especially Teddy Bridgewater. Thanks to Florida sleepwalking through that game, Bridgewater’s stock soared, and now appears to be the #1 pick in the Draft. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a very good QB, but had Florida played defense the way they had on Johnny Manziel, Aaron Murray, EJ Manuel and Zach Mettenberger, he would be a second to third round pick. I’ve never bought into one game being make or break for a player’s draft stock, but I think the Sugar Bowl did just that for Bridgewater. Is that really what Florida has disintegrated to? Playing the part of big name opponent for teams to get a huge win against and then party all night, and then raise the national perception of the opponent?
The injuries excuse would be fine if Florida had finished 8-4. I’m totally OK with going 8-4 with the amount of injuries Florida had, I really am. Had Florida lost to Missouri, LSU, South Carolina, and FSU, and won the other four games they actually lost, I would have absolutely no problem with it. But of course, that didn’t happen. And even with the injuries that Florida did have, they still should have won more than four games.
First of all, when Florida lost to Miami, they were nearly fully healthy. They still had Driskel, Matt Jones (albeit only at about 75%, but that’s better than not having him at all), Solomon Patton, Quinton Dunbar, Trey Burton, and most of their starting defense. They even had Antonio Morrison back from a suspension that day. In other words, enough of a team to win the game- easily- barring mistakes. So did they? Nein, herr: Florida turned it over 5 times and committed 10 penalties in a 21-16 loss- which just so happened to be the last time Florida and Miami would ever play each other in the foreseeable future. That really pisses me off, and a lot of other Gator fans to boot, and again, the fans are the ones that buy tickets and generate revenue. Make those people unhappy, and only the most loyal and wealthy of folks are going to spend the money and time to go to the games.
The other three losses- to Vanderbilt, Georgia and Georgia Southern- are all completely unacceptable. I don’t want to hear “injuries” when discussing those games. Let’s start with Georgia. This is the game Muschamp is 0-7 in. Doesn’t that make you want to put more time in at the office? Doesn’t that grind your competitive spirit, get your juices flowing, and become that much more determined to win that game? No, says Muschamp. He even went on College GameDay last year and announced to the whole world that he didn’t care about the fact that it’s a rivalry, he wasn’t going to spend any more time on UGA than he would on, say an FCS team like Georgia Southern. That’s pretty evident by looking at his 0-3 record as Florida’s coach against Georgia- he’s a loser in this game, and probably always will be until he figures out that this game is simply more important than his stubborn mind will let him admit.
Anyway, Georgia runs out to a 23-3 halftime lead. Really? A team you’ve never beaten, that’s coming into this game 4-3, same as yourself, that you’ve GOT to believe you’re better than- and you let them walk all over you like that? It didn’t matter that Florida’s defense played much better in the second half, or that Muschamp made adjustments, as you said because they put themselves in too deep a hole for the now famously anemic offense to dig out of. Sure, he’s good at making adjustments, but why does he have to every single game? Shouldn’t there be even some games where Florida doesn’t have to make adjustments because Muschamp and the team prepared well enough to run them out of the Swamp before halftime? (And please don’t say Kentucky. Everybody beats Kentucky easily).
Then there’s Vandy. I know the Commodores are better on the football field than their name brand, but there is absolutely no excuse for letting them walk into the Swamp and go up 24-3. There’s really no excuse for letting any team do that, outside of maybe Alabama, Auburn or FSU last year. The Gators got dominated, on their home field, by freaking Vanderbilt. And after going up 10-0 on Georgia Southern- who was so badly dinged up as a team that they could only dress up 46 players for the game- the same thing happened again.
Bottom line: Florida was dominated by an FCS team in the Swamp. You’ve admitted that should never happen, so I won’t harp on again like I’m just making the point for the first time. However, reading or listening to that sentence makes a lot of Gator fans feel sick, and while that may sound like the reignited emotions talking, it’s going to show when the time comes to buy tickets for next year. Honestly, who wants to pay money to get in their car, or in a lot of cases, on a plane, and travel to Gainesville, just to pay more money to get into the Swamp… to watch this?
His defenses have generally been good, albeit in spots: Georgia Southern’s 429 yards of offense was more than they’d put on six of their ten FCS opponents. In other words, more than half of the FCS teams GSU played did a better job stopping the triple option than Florida, and while Florida doesn’t ever see it, none of the FCS teams GSU played see it either, other than once a year. Then there was the 500 mark Missouri put on Florida. Say what you want about Maty Mauk, but at least this year, Missouri is a better team with James Franklin at QB (I do think Mauk can grow and become better than Franklin in time). There is no way in hell that Florida should be giving up half a thousand yards to anybody, much less a team with a backup QB. How about the 414 yards allowed to an equally injury-riddled Georgia team? No Malcolm Mitchell, no Keith Marshall, a banged up Todd Gurley, and you give up 414 yards of offense? I mean… is this a bad dream?
I’d be willing to give Muschamp another year if I thought there was legitimate evidence to believe there will be improvement. I’m not willing to give him another year to toy around, and blindly try to figure things out. Yes, he hired Kurt Roper, and he looked good in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl… against a Texas A&M defense that gave up 37 points a game against BCS competition. Why am I supposed to believe he’ll fix anything? Then there’s the schedule. With Missouri, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, LSU and FSU on the schedule, can you promise me we’ll win more than 6 games? For me personally, it would take 10 wins total, a win over Georgia and a trip to ATL for the SEC Championship Game to want him back- because that’s what it would take for me to believe he’s a good enough coach to be worthy of leading the Florida Gators after the worst season of my lifetime, and well before that.
What reason is there to believe that this will happen?
NEIL BLACKMON: Will Muschamp will win at least six games, because never in the history of college football, according to Phil Steele, has a team finished with a top ten defense in consecutive years and had losing records in each. So I expect that despite a brutal schedule (again) Muschamp will get it done.
Here’s another fact: Florida is 19-1 under Muschamp when it has scored 21 points. That’s mind-boggling! So Kurt Roper get his shot. Duke’s David Cutcliffe is a coach no one can question, and he has brought Roper everywhere with him, from Tennessee to Ole Miss and so forth.
I’m convinced if he can score 21 points a game, Florida is in business under Muschamp, with one caveat: Muschamp, as you noted, has to beat Georgia. It took twenty years for Steve Spurrier, Ron Zook and Urban Meyer to change the fortune of that rivalry game. In just three short years, Muschamp may have flipped the psychological edge back to the Dawgs. That’s a devastating thing, because the Georgia game is the most important game Florida plays all year. It’s the oldest, biggest, most hated rival and it is a divisional game. Muschamp can say every game should be treated the same and that might fly in Saban-land– but it doesn’t in Gatorland and it is time Will figured that out and won that football game.
So it’s really a question, to me, of whether Roper can fix the offense or not. And some of that has to do with players, which is where I think Muschamp must get it right and fast. There’s no real evidence he’s brought anyone in on offense, outside of Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor, that has made a significant impact on Florida offensively. DJ Humphries is a nice prospect. Ahmad Fullwood has the body of an SEC receiver and started to get it in November. Chris Thompson has SEC track speed and developed in November too– and he’s a Muschamp diamond in the rought. But who else that Will has brought in makes you think Roper has any personnel to do what needs to be done?
That’s why this recruiting class is so critical. Dalvin Cook hurts because he was instant “go-the-distance” playmaker. Florida fans that don’t want to admit that are fooling themselves. Ermon Lane is less crucial but sure, we all like five star receivers. Let’s see what happens.
I talked to Corey Long, my friend and longtime high-school recruiting analyst and he told me that he liked the tight end from Alabama and he also liked pieces in the class like Chris Lammons, and potentially, Jeff Jones. But again, he told me, there aren’t any lightning-rod instant impact offense guys.
I think Muschamp coaches just fine– Foley knows this– and a great deal of Will’s problem are about offense and sadly, offensive personnel, which is hard to recruit when you don’t have any positive film.
Last thing, because it’s important. The Louisville loss to Bridgewater wasn’t a “bad loss” in the sense that Louisville was bad. Everyone knew Bridgewater was good, he was the #1 QB out of high school. And of course his draft stock improved against UF– that Gator D started 10 NFL players if you include the underclassman. Should Muschamp have had UF more prepared? Sure. But it isn’t like UF lost to a redshirt freshmen quarterback and surrendered seven sacks to a team that couldn’t dial up pressure on St. Katherine’s heading into the game… and by the way- that’s the only loss in the Muschamp era where Florida scored more than 21 points.
I don’t pay much attention to history when thinking about how things will turn out in the future. There’s always a first time for everything.
Unfortunately for Muschamp, Roper has quite a bit of work to do. I’m not sure Roper can get the offense to be good enough to win a lot of games next year, though, and I think that’s about as long as Jeremy Foley’s willing to give Muschamp. The thing is, Florida was so historically awful last year- particularly on offense- that going 8-4 and scoring 21 a game- hell, even 31 when you consider that Florida has four cupcake defenses on the schedule- probably won’t be enough to save his job next year, and it really shouldn’t be, in my opinion. Hitting 21 may be enough some days, and other days, it may not be, and I think when you split those “maybe” games, you come out with something right around 8-4- which, as I’ve said, is no bueno. Not after going 4-8 and losing to an FCS team the year before.
I sort of disagree with the Cutcliffe statement; there’s plenty to question, such as his 25-23 SEC record at Ole Miss even with Eli Manning (who was as sure a bet to go there as any, so please don’t credit Cutcliffe with “recruiting” him; his family and friends did that), but we’ll just have to see what he does without Cutcliffe looking over his shoulder.
I’ll preface this comment by admitting that this may sound a little greedy, and possibly even immature, but: not only does Will Muschamp have to beat Georgia; he has to dominate them, crush them and pound them into the ground for 60 minutes. Otherwise it’s “Well, he’s 1-3 as a coach; he’s got to win sometime, right?” Dismantle them, however, and leave no mistake, and he can shatter the curse for good. The idea is to make an everlasting visual impression on recruits considering both schools. If they see a close, last minute Florida win, it may not be enough to sway them, and it certainly won’t reverse the national perception of the Gators in this series. A beatdown, whether on the scoreboard or a beat-you-up-and-wear-you-down type win like the win we had over LSU in 2012. Again, this may seem sort of childish, and greedy, but remember the audience he’s got to appeal to: 17 year old kids and a fan base that’s suffering a serious success drought in football.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take a win, and you know, probably celebrate in style, but it won’t change my mind about Muschamp as a coach. Even broken clocks are right twice a day. I will pause to add that if Florida exceeds expectations on the year, and goes unbeaten or has one loss, and they win this game in any fashion, then discount this statement. But that’s just not likely with the gauntlet they face.
To me, Louisville was a bad loss because Florida simply was not ready to play. At all. In the Sugar Bowl. That’s never good, so I think that deserves the “bad loss” label, especially since Florida got beaten down and made a good team look like world beaters.
I pretty much agree with the rest of your response, though: most of Muschamp’s fate will be decided by the success or failure of Kurt Roper, and he’s got his work cut out for him since the talent level on offense is below average. To sum everything up: I think Muschamp could be a serviceable defensive coordinator for Florida, and a solid coach at a Bowling Green type school, but I just don’t think he’s going to be able to work enough magic in the W/L department to keep his job. He’s already lost a lot of support, and there’s only so much more he can afford to lose and still keep his job.
Some of that is history, sure, but the “21 point” thing is more of a target number for the future and the Kurt Roper era. Like most “looks into the future”, history serves as a benchmark suggesting success. As noted, Florida is 20-1 under Will Muschamp when they’ve scored 21 points or more. (I was off one win in my previous count!) Considering Muschamp is 23-16 overall, that’s mind-boggling. But let’s run with your 21 points a game might be good enough some days theory, just for a moment, because I think at first glance you might be right. Here’s a chart of the records of SEC Teams over the last three seasons when they’ve scored 21 points or more. I’ve also included the three schools Florida competes with for players in the state- as it is difficult to argue UF doesn’t compete with UCF now that O’Leary has won a BCS bowl game. I’ve put the teams in order of winning percentage when scoring 21 points or more. Keep in mind 8-4 is a 75 percent winning percentage…
School Games With 21 or More Record Winning Percentage Notes
Florida 21 20-1 95% Only loss to Louisville; garbage TD gets UF over 21
Alabama 37 34-3 92% 3-1 in that span when not scoring 21 or more
Florida State 37 34-3 92% 1-3 in that span when under 21 or more; scored on last play vs UF in 2012 to get over 21
LSU 31 28-3 90%
South Carolina 32 28-4 88%
Auburn 25 21-4 84% Over 21 every game in 2013
Miss State 24 20-4 83% Mullen 2-13 when they don’t get there
Central Florida 30 24-6 80% 3-6 in the span when not reaching 21
UGA 36 28-8 78% Testament to how bad Grantham’s defenses are…
Arkansas 22 17-5 77%
Texas A & M 36 27-9 75% Have not won in 3 year span when scoring less than 21
Miami, FL 28 21-7 75% 1-8 under Al Golden when scoring less than 21 points
Missouri 31 23-8 74%
Vanderbilt 29 20-9 69%
Ole Miss 25 17-8 68% One victory in 3 year span when scoring less than 21
Tennessee 22 15-7 68% Have not won in three year span when scoring less than 21
Kentucky 11 6-5 55% 3-22 in three year span when scoring less than 21
A couple of things stand out about this:
1) Florida has the best winning percentage of any of these football teams, including the last three national champions, when scoring 21 or more. 2) Of all the teams on this lis- only Kentucky…let that sink in… has scored 21 points or more fewer times than Florida. That’s a horrific statistic, and it is one that is even worse at Florida, where Steve Spurrier has a statute outside and scored a zillion points in his reign as coach and Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin lit up scoreboards while winning two national titles. The good news? Florida tends to always have playmakers on defense.
To me, this suggests if Kurt Roper can get to 21, Will Muschamp’s defense will be in a position to help Florida win the football game. Again, I think Roper is a fine hire from a great pedigree– Cutcliffe’s 25-23 mark in SEC play at Ole Miss is superior to every Rebels coach other than Johnny Vaught– and he swears by the Broyles Award winner. But can Roper do it in one year? The deck is stacked.
Unfortunately, the 21 point statistic also suggests that the problems Florida has on offense have not been fixed under Will Muschamp, and part of the problem, now that he has had two full recruiting classes, is he simply hasn’t done a good job evaluating and bringing in dynamic game-changing talent on offense. Kelvin Taylor is an All-American caliber piece. Beyond that, what do you have? Ahmad Fullwood? Okay, decent start. But no one else at a difference making position scares you. Kurt Roper will have to get to 21 with what, by SEC standards, and certainly by Florida standards, is subpar talent. This is why folks can talk all they want about how great it is to flip Jalen Tabor and to get a commit from Gerald Willis– but Will needs more guys like Brandon Powell, the tailback from Broward County, and he needs them immediately.
Beyond that, I stand by what I thought to begin with: Will Muschamp saves his gig next year by going 9-3 with a win over Georgia. If he’s 9-3 with a loss to Georgia, he is fired. And he should be. There is never any reason at the University of Florida since Steve Spurrier arrived on campus to lose to UGA four years in a row. That sort of atrocity versus your archrival gets you fired at Michigan, gets you fired at Ohio State (John Cooper), gets you fired at Georgia (Jim Donnan- and he BEAT UF once), and it should get you fired at Florida.
ME: This is an awesome chart, but you’re banking on Florida scoring 21 points routinely under Roper. I agree with pretty much all you’ve said about Florida being in great shape if they score 21, and the chart admittedly makes me feel more confident in those chances, but how do we know they will routinely score 21? Especially with teams like Alabama, LSU and FSU on the schedule. That’s three losses right there, and leaves Muschamp with absolutely no margin for error.
I’ll also remind you that Roper has a very short leash, not so much because he’s expected to make the offense explosive so quickly but more because Muschamp’s leash is even shorter in Gainesville, whether Jeremy Foley wants to admit it publicly or not. I do honestly believe Roper could be a decent offensive coordinator if given time, but he may not be if the offense sputters in year one, and Muschamp gets fired because of that, and then the new head coach doesn’t retain him.
Yet, as you pointed out, he doesn’t have the pieces in place to do it. Other than Kelvin Taylor, who can Roper possibly expect to generate a huge spark into the offense? I do believe Driskel is better than some fans give him credit for, but with no receivers of good quality to help him out, he’s going to be rendered useless. So Roper’s going to have to try to force some round pegs into square holes and desperately try to manufacture some points. Not that this is his fault, of course; that’s what happens when you go work for a coach who refused to fire his previous offensive coordinator until it was way too late, and that’s also what happens when you work for a team that was 4-8 the year before. But he took the job, and- right or wrong (and I believe it’s wrong)- that’s the set of expectations he’s got to deal with.
So to recap that: Roper, through no fault of his own, is in a position where he has to create an explosive offense in year one, but he doesn’t have nearly enough playmakers to do it. This absurd Catch-22 pretty much ensures he’s not going to be very successful. Again, I’ll reiterate: I’m not saying he’s a bad coordinator, or that he couldn’t be successful if given time to build the offense with his own recruits, but he just doesn’t have that time because of the perilous position of Will Muschamp’s job security at the moment.
I suppose it’s possible Florida could win 8 games, but that’s not going to be enough. With the hole Muschamp dug for himself in 2013, he’s going to have to go 10-2 with a mandatory win over Georgia, and win the SEC East to keep his job, or 9-3 at the absolute worst with a win over Georgia. I just don’t see that happening.
NEIL BLACKMON: As noted: I think Roper does enough to go 9-3 with a win over Georgia. I think Florida loses @ Alabama, at home to South Carolina and @ FSU.
I think 8-4 with an “L” to UGA should mean Muschamp leaves town.
ME: You think Florida loses to South Carolina? Funny, that’s the one game I think Florida will be the underdog in and win.
A couple weeks ago, I did my game by game picks and had Florida at 6-6, losing to Alabama, LSU, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Missouri and FSU. I’ll keep everything the same, except I’ll change Vanderbilt to a win because of the departure of James Franklin. I’m not sure if Vandy can get somebody with as much energy and talent as Franklin, though since he raised the brand name of Vanderbilt, maybe they can.
Having said that, I can easily see Florida losing on the road to a much improved Tennessee team. But I’ll stay with 7-5 for now as my official prediction.