Where does Will Muschamp stand now?

There’s no doubt that destroying Georgia was just what the doctor ordered for the job security of Will Muschamp, which is still very much on life support. But while beating our co-biggest rival is always nice, I don’t really know how much it changed anything in terms of Muschamp’s future at UF.

Before you read this piece, I suggest you finish celebrating the win over Georgia. You can’t read this if you’re still giddy over the win, or still in the process of taunting every Georgia fan you know. Seriously, I did the same thing and refused to even try to put these thoughts on paper until I had calmed down and was ready to look at the big picture. Because the big picture- the overall outlook of the Florida program and its future- is a sobering one.

Jeremy Foley has said on multiple occasions that he will balance all the facts, evaluate Muschamp at the end of the season and then make a decision. If that’s really the case, though, I can’t see Muschamp coming back- unless he wins out. That includes exacting revenge on Vanderbilt and South Carolina (which should be fairly easy), that includes winning in Tallahassee (not as easy) and that includes winning a bowl game against what would, under this “run the table” scenario, be against a ~9 win Big 10 team. And even then, it’s no sure thing.

There are really two questions here: do I (and should you) want Muschamp to stay on right now, and if he wins out? And will he come back for another year if he does win out?

For anyone to make a decision like this- me, you, or Jeremy Foley, most of whom this is directed at- current emotions need to be put aside. I was calling to fire Muschamp just as much after we lost a tough game to South Carolina as I was after the embarrassing loss to Vandy. The latest result, for better or worse, cannot alter your decision any more than any other result did on its own. You can’t tell me to “settle down and enjoy the win”, or that “Muschamp deserves another chance after beating Georgia” just because you’re feeling good right now. No, I want better results long term. Remember how it felt to lose to Missouri? That was just two weeks ago. You can’t use the most recent result to make a decision of this magnitude; you need to lay down all the results on the table and balance them out.

So let’s do that.

Working in Muschamp’s favor to stay are two main things: the 11 wins during the 2012 season and the win over Georgia on Saturday (and the coinciding decision to start Treon Harris). I don’t think 2012 was particularly exciting to watch, but the Gators were winning games, and I’m willing to trade excitement for wins. The 2012 Gators finished in the Top 10 despite two of the most horrid performances in big games I can ever remember seeing, because they won the 11 other games they played that year. And beating Georgia the other day proved that he can win big games. Not all the time, or even a respectable percentage of the time, but he can win a big game now and then.

But the argument against him is much stronger. That 2012 team was close to winning a national championship, but there’s a reason why they didn’t- in the biggest game of the year, against Georgia, they self destructed. In the Sugar Bowl that same year- one of college football’s biggest stages- they self destructed. Against FSU, Georgia and Auburn in 2011, they self destructed. Against Miami, Georgia, Missouri and Vanderbilt in 2013, they self destructed. And this year, against LSU and Missouri, they self destructed.

Notice a pattern here?

Muschamp has coached himself to four big wins at Florida: against LSU, South Carolina and FSU in 2012 and now against Georgia. Stack those four wins up against all the above games I listed in which his teams didn’t even bother to show up. The latter category wins, by a long shot. I don’t have a problem with getting beat by better teams, like Alabama/LSU in 2011 or FSU last year, and I don’t have a problem with somebody making a big mistake at the end of the game to lose it every now and then; everybody makes a mistake now and then. But losing games because we tried our hardest to give them away just drives me crazy, particularly when it happens on a consistent basis. I can get over one loss because somebody dropped a pass or threw a bad interception, but I can’t stand it when it’s a regular occurrence.

And if you want to use Georgia as an example that Muschamp has turned things around- well, what happened against Missouri? That was the second most recent game this team has played, and a game of huge importance for Florida’s chances at the SEC East. Those chances are all but gone now, thanks to that wonderful effort his team gave that night. And to answer your next question, Georgia did not change my mind in the least bit. It’s too late. Too many losses that left me shaking my head, and not enough wins that made me believe there was some promise. In all kinds of weather, we all stick together- for FLORIDA. For the best interests of the program. And I believe that hiring a new coach and starting over is what would be best for the program today as much as I did after the Vanderbilt loss last year.

But those are arguments, and opinions. And while they do carry weight, they’re not as important as cold, hard facts. Here’s are some facts, and some disturbing ones at that.

First, and perhaps most importantly, it’s looking very likely that Florida will go four consecutive years under Muschamp without a single appearance in Atlanta. Wasn’t that what the consensus of Florida fans agreed on? He has to go to Atlanta to keep his job for 2015, bottom line? Yes? Sound familiar? Well, the Gators aren’t exactly the favorite right now. Yes, it’s still possible. But the mere fact that we are now relying on a shitload of help from teams that are ~.500 in the SEC just to get us to a massive three way 5-3 tie is a sign that- blasphemy!- maybe we don’t deserve to be there in the first place. Or maybe that sign was Florida laying an egg in a game we absolutely had to have against Missouri, which by the way was a homecoming game at night. I’m sure all the alumni who traveled back to Gainesville really appreciated that performance, and more importantly, that loss isn’t going to go away because now we are in a huge hole because of it in terms of tiebreakers.

Here’s another fact to think about. And brace yourselves, because this one is scary. Had Muschamp lost to Georgia, his winning percentage at Florida would have been 55.5%. That would have qualified as the worst percentage of any Gator coach since the 1940’s when Raymond Wolf had a losing record in his four years. I know, Florida won on Saturday, but to even come close to a distinction like that should be enough for a coach of a Gator program that’s light years ahead of where it was back then to get the boot.

So no, I don’t want Muschamp back.

Again, winning the SEC East was what we as a fan base decided he had to do to come back in 2015. He had to win the SEC East and go to Atlanta to keep his job. Bottom line. Any hypotheticals, “how abouts” or “but what ifs” result in the front door slamming right in your face to end the conversation. The answer is no. Goodbye. That’s the answer, the only answer, with no alternatives or derivatives. He has to win the East to keep his job, we agreed, or he’s gone. Even if he wins out, Florida’s still probably not winning the East. That’s right, if we go 8-3 and beat FSU- hell, 9-3, I’ll even throw in a bowl win- I still will not want him back.

Muschamp finally won a big game- good for him- but it’s too late. This win does not, by any means, undo the damage that Missouri game did. Now, had he beaten Georgia AND Missouri, I’d be thinking twice about wanting him gone. But once again, his team lost a game it absolutely had to have. And then of course there was last year. That didn’t go away, either. I haven’t forgotten about Miami, Georgia Southern and Vanderbilt, and regardless of how many injuries there were, losing those games to go 4-8 is unacceptable. Again, yes, I realize we were banged up. But a good coach, with that same game by game roster, gets that 2013 team to 6-6.

If you want a comparison, Foley pulled the plug on Zook when it became clear that he wouldn’t win the East in his third year; to even consider giving Muschamp, with a substantially lower winning percentage than Zook, a fifth year is absurd. Yet that’s what very well may happen if he wins the rest of his games.

I don’t think Jeremy Foley is an “idiot”, “asleep at the wheel”, or “doesn’t care about the football team”. Those comments and others like them are just silly. I think he’s got the right intentions, but his ego and inability to admit when he’s wrong gets in the way of what’s best for his program in reality. But if his golden boy wins out and finishes 9-3 with wins over FSU and in a respectable bowl game, I have to think he’ll be back. I won’t like it, but that will be the reality.

Going 8-3 after 4-8 a year ago would be a monumental turnaround, even without a trip to Atlanta. It would be the second such impressive turnaround after taking a 6-6 team in 2011 and turning it into 11-1 in 2012. That would leave questions as to whether Muschamp can have success and then sustain it, but it would give Foley a reason to try him out for a fifth year. Muschamp would have two good seasons and two bad seasons to his name, and to break the tie, I’m certain Foley would keep him in 2015, and then I’d have to hope and pray for the best with the tough schedule we have.

So win out, Muschamp. What I think of you won’t ever change unless you lead us to an SEC Championship at this point, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is the opinion of your boss, and he is trying so hard to find reasons to keep you. For your own sake, win out. You’ve got one down; now go win five more.

And then we’ll discuss it.

32 thoughts on “Where does Will Muschamp stand now?

  1. Excellent write up Neil.

    I’m very happy with this win, but like you, one win doesn’t change the overall body of work by much. I think what this win did for me is have a little more respect for Muschamp because I know the players really do care about him and he hasn’t lost the locker room like I thought. 2 of the players that seemed to be the most upset(D-Rob & KT) busted their asses on Saturday for the program. So I do have a little more respect for Muschamp there. But he is still a mediocre head coach.

    But it’s up to Foley and I think Foley is so emotionally attached to Muschamp that this win bought Muschamp another year. As long as we don’t lose to Vandy or Eastern Kentucky I think this win made Foley even more in love than he already is. The problem in a results driven business is having the boss be madly in love and best friends with the person that directly reports to him. This is the case we have right now.

    1. Well, if this team tanks and loses twice more, I doubt Muschamp comes back. He wins out, I think he does, and if he loses once it’s 50/50.

      And I do like Muschamp on a personal level. It’s just, like you said, he’s not an adequate head coach.

  2. Being the FLORIDA GATOR that I am, I said two years ago that Muschamp needed to go. When Zook was fired mid-season, we had Urban Myers waiting to step right in. Right now, I believe if we had someone to step right in now, Muschamp would have been gone after the loss to Missouri. Yes, winning against Georgia was a sweet victory. One I plan on riding on that wagon all week. But as you stated, one win to rival Georgia does not make up for the previous years of constant bad decision making by Muschamp. I do not think that Muschamp is a bad person, this is strictly about football. I just don’t think he makes a good HEAD COACH. I think that his pride got in the way to many times at a horrible cost to our team. When you cannot see any enthusiasm from your players, that is a bad sign. Both the offense and the defense had no trust in Driskel, and it was pretty apparent that once they decided to allow Treon Harris to lead the team, you saw a very different team on that field. You saw the old GATOR FANS back. You saw the solidarity all around during last Saturday’s game against Georgia. I, like all other Florida Gators want our team back. Muschamp has been given to many opportunities to show that he is the man to get the job done, but he has failed and failed miserably. I feel that if Foley decides to eep Muschamp on for another year in 2015, then I believe I will start to question Foley, which is something I have never done in the past 22 years.

    1. The thing is, I don’t think there’s the next “Urban Meyer” replacement out there waiting to take the job. There are some good candidates, but no great ones. I definitely want Muschamp out, but it won’t happen midseason because of that. You raise good points though, particularly about starting to question Foley if he doesn’t pull the trigger after the next loss. Because that’s exactly how I feel there, too

      1. There is no Urban Meyer right now, but that may be a good thing given how he flamed out.

        I have made a list of my favorites but it is still pending.

        I am making an angry face at you Neil.

        LOL

        1. I have it; I’m not gonna run it right now because it makes no sense to write that right after a huge win that has half the fan base doing cartwheels. I have my own list as well that I had scheduled to publish today, matter of fact, but that I pushed back. Let’s wait until Florida actually loses again. To anybody.

          If our feelings and thoughts deep down about Muschamp are correct, we won’t have to wait very long.

  3. Spot on. I never root for the Gators to lose, but a loss almost certainly would have been the end of the line for him. And I’m just so, so tired of his boring style of football. If we win out- which won’t happen, but let’s assume- I’d have to reconsider. But again, that isn’t happening. We are not winning in Tallahassee.

    If lose one more game this year and Foley keeps him, I’m done spending my money on games. Hit him right in the wallet. If we win out, I’ll continue to go until we lose a game we shouldn’t. I’m just one person, granted, but I have a feeling I’m not the only one who feels this way. I would be shocked if we sold out our allotment of tickets for our SEC home opener next year with Muschamp at the helm unless this team finishes 9-3, meaning beat FSU and win a bowl game.

    Just my two cents.

    1. “I’m done spending money on games”.

      I feel you. I’m just a “little guy” like you are but if we don’t win out and Muschamp is retained, Florida Field is going to look even more empty on Saturday’s then it already does.

      I feel like Muschamp still has support from most of the big money guys, and hardly any support from the little money guys. Who’s opinion means more? Obviously the high rollers.

      The support has been dwindling since day one. And, yeah, sure, the Muschamp supporters will say “well attendance is down everywhere” but Florida Field was always sold out on Saturday’s before Muschamp’s arrival, now it’s lucky to be full 1 game a year.

      1. I don’t think the big money guys are behind Muschamp – have you looked at the empty seats in the Champion level? I personally know 3 bull gators who did not renew tickets or donate this year and told the Athletic Association they will not be back until Muschamp is gone

        1. And if that’s how you want to deal with it- if that is what you believe in your heart to be the best way to help Gator football- go for it. Would I personally react and respond that way? No. But if that is how you think you are most helping the football program long term, I can respect it.

          1. I don’t think you can say that with certainty right now. I say that because you are not a donor in that sense. Remember, Muschamp’s salary comes from the donors and like any salary, performance is the driving factor. If you were donating thousands of dollars and your AD was not listening to your wishes, your only recourse would be to use the language that speaks loudest and clearest – $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

            1. That’s fair. But living up north makes it really hard to get to games. That’s why I would not personally do it. Having said that, if I went to four or five games a year, I could absolutely see myself doing it.

  4. As a man, I like Muschamp. As a head coach, not so much. If he wins out he stays, if he barely beats Vandy and South Carolina and then he better not be blown out by FSU. I think if anyone can beat the Noles this year, it’s us. If the team has any liking whatsoever for Coach then they will make sure to show up and spoil their rivals season.

    I don’t think there is any coaches out there that we would consider a sure thing at this point, so why would we fire our coach before the end of the season? I think it all hinges on how Miss State finishes the season. If they win the SEC and make the playoffs, then Mullen would probably stick around. Anything less, then I say we make him an offer he can’t refuse.

      1. I am not sure he sticks around. He is ambitious and he endured some criticism last year. He knows his fanbase is delusional and has spent a lot of time building it up. He could well be the next Meyer but he happens to be at a power conference outpost instead of a mid major.

        He is under an unreasonable amount of pressure at MSU and it would behoove him to get a paycheck while his stock is at its highest. It took him 6 years to accomplish at MSU what he could do in 2 at Florida and I think he knows that. The only hang up is, would he want to put up with Gators fans again.

  5. Sigh. I mean you’re right, but it’s just a depressing situation to be apart of as a fan. Do we root for Florida to keep winning even knowing that helps Muschamp’s chances of staying? Of course we do but then what? 2015 is a murderous schedule; 8-4 is very possible. Is that why we have come to accept as a fan base?

    1. The thing I hear most from the Muschamp supporters is “the schedule is hard so it’s not fair”. As if the schedule wasn’t hard for any of the coaches before him. What a crock of shit.

      The schedule this season was actually one of the easiest in a long time. The East is a joke and we are so close to being 1-3 against the East. It’s sad what has become of Florida Football and the fan base. Settling for mediocrity.

      1. For the record:

        Next year our schedule includes FSU, Ole Miss, at Missouri, at LSU, Georgia, at South Carolina, and one of our “cupcakes” is East Carolina- a team that has spent most of this season ranked. We figure to be underdogs in those first five, and we have to go to Kentucky, who you can tell is just waiting to spring an upset on somebody as they improve week to week.

        So yeah, 8-4 is very likely. But I would have confidence that Spurrier in his heyday would get us to 10-2 with that schedule, even if the high flying offense he ran at the time has since been figured out.

  6. I’m not sure a bowl victory would matter at this point. If Foley lets Muschamp go I think it happens following the regular season. That would be 3-4 extra weeks to interview potential candidates and possibly hire someone either before the bowl game or at the latest, immediate following the new coaches bowl game. If Foley waits until a bowl game loss to fire him, it could be a few weeks until someone is hired and that means only 2-3 weeks of recruiting at best. I think he would have an announcement pre or immediately post bowl game of a new coach if a change is made after regular season, giving the new staff at least a full month to recruit.

    I also don’t expect Mullen or any other current sec head coach to come to UF. Winning the east is certainly easier than the West right now but…..with the sec network revenue every team in the sec could pay $10 million or more to its head coach. Florida will not be out bidding ole miss or miss st for their coach. And those coaches have zero pressure at this point. Not sure they want to deal with the pressure at UF.

    1. Possibly, but if Foley’s on the fence entering the bowl game and we lay another egg…

      And I do think Florida could at least match another school’s bid for a top coach, and then sell three national championships and how easy recruiting could be with all the talent that lies in state.

  7. So if we cut Muschamp loose who do you want?

    Mullen? He was not liked when he was at Florida and accept for this year what has he done?

    Sumlin? Texas A&M is doing so well.

    SOS? Again, USC is in a down this year.

    And do you want off field issues like FSU?

    The Big 12 Coaches? They don’t play “D”

    You won’t accept a Kerwin Bell because JU is too small.

    I did not think we would be much better than 8-4 or 9-3. That is where we are. IF we play like we did against UGA (Win or Lose) I am fine with WM. If UGA is a fluke then why is Mizzou the norm? If Muschamp can clean up the slop we will win.

    Look at Tampa Bay, do we want that?

    1. “If UGA is a fluke then why is Mizzou the norm?”

      Because the mistakes, the self-destructions, the lack of offense have become what we all expect from Will Muschamp’s Gator teams. Even in the 11-2 season, we were always waiting for the other shoe to drop because his brand of football leaves no room for errors. Playing “perfect games” within the small margin of error is unsustainable. Mizzou is the norm because there have been WAY more games like Mizzou throughout his tenure. Mizzou is the norm because Will Muschamp is not a proven winner. Mizzou is the norm because when was the last time you saw the Gators play like they played against UGA? Meanwhile we’ve been watching the Gators play like they played against Mizzou for most of the season.

      1. All I’m saying is if we continue to play like last week and build on that, I want Muschamp to stay. You can’t win without a good QB.

        BUT if we revert back to Mizzou and 2013 I am with you, WM should go.

        That said, you can’t name a “Big Time Coach” to replace him. AND if you give an upstart coach a chance the Nation will never accept it.

        It’s NOT MULLEN at MSU, it’s that he NOW HAS A QB. Why did our D play so well? THEY WERE NOT ON THE FIELD!!!

        Be careful what you wish for.

        1. Mullen is not my top choice, but he’s on the list.

          And yeah, he has a QB- one that he found, recruited, signed and developed. Those first few parts are not that easy to do at MSU. I’m pretty confident that he would be able to do that at Florida, with all the talent there is to be recruited throughout the state.

      2. This was well said.

        Just to restate: Mizzou is the norm because it joins the ghosts of epic failures past: 2011 FSU, 2011 Auburn, 2011 Georgia, 2012 Georgia, 2013 Sugar Bowl, 2013 Miami, 2013 Missouri, 2013 Georgia, 2013 Vanderbilt, 2013 Georgia Southern and 2014 LSU. Whereas Georgia 2014 may be big win number four for Muschamp at Florida- and I said “may be” because the South Carolina game Neil mentioned wasn’t really a big win, that was just South Carolina derping around and giving us every break we could have possibly asked for.

    2. I have a long, LONG list ready to be revealed at either the next Gator loss or the end of the season. But it doesn’t make sense to release it right now in the wake of arguably Muschamp’s biggest win as head Gator.

      1. 2013 was a complete bust but with the injuries, you can’t base WM on that. So are you going to base Urban on 2010?

        Again, what has Mullen done before this year? And look at what Charlie Strong is gong through. If he can’t turn it around in 3 years does UT throw him out?

        I’ll give you Muschamp is learning OJT but if he finally puts it together you won’t give him one more year?

        And my point was that it takes a QB to win. True, WM gave Driskel too many chances but with Treon and Greir I think things are looking good.

        And Neil, your pod cast said it all. Who else will fit your needs thats available? You may be shocked.

        1. “2013 was a complete bust but with the injuries, you can’t base WM on that. So are you going to base Urban on 2010?” > Urban had 2005-2009 as a track record. Plus Utah. Plus Bowling Green. In short, Urban Meyer had a track record of success that one single mediocre season cannot undo. Muchamp’s only track record is having his teams flounder when the games matter most.

          “Again, what has Mullen done before this year? And look at what Charlie Strong is gong through. If he can’t turn it around in 3 years does UT throw him out?” What has Mullen done ? Wins per season prior to Mullen since the year 2000 – 8, 3, 2, 3, 3, 3, 8, 4. Since Mullen arrived – 5, 9, 7, 8,7 8 (and counting). That is 5 straight seasons of bowl eligibility fr a tea that hadn’t accomplished that since the 1940s. That’s kind of a big accomplishment. As for Strong, yes. He has HC experience. If he can’t get Texas contending as a powerhouse in 3 years, they should show him the door.

          “I’ll give you Muschamp is learning OJT but if he finally puts it together you won’t give him one more year?” – he has had 4 years to fx the SAME things that have plagued his team since day 1. It is as together as it will ever be.

          “And my point was that it takes a QB to win. True, WM gave Driskel too many chances but with Treon and Greir I think things are looking good.” – based on WM’s awesome track record of choosing and developping Qbs ?

    3. “The Big 12 Coaches? They don’t play “D””

      Inaccurate. There is an emphasis on hurry up and gunslinging which results in more plays per game thus more yards allowed. Yards per play is where the better story is told and there are only 2 SEC teams better than Baylor and Texas, the top two Big 12 teams.

      Mizzou – 4.2
      Bama – 4.3
      Baylor – 4.4
      Texas – 4.5

  8. Do I want him back? No not really. Will I change colors overnight if he comes back? Not a chance.

    Here’s why I dont want him back. He continues making bad choices and thinking he knows what is best for our offense. With a 24 point lead, Georgia was fully aware of our plan to run the ball, and when they pinned their ears back, did we try to pass the ball? Nope… 3 and out, running the ball to finish the 3rd quarter. Why?

    He claimed that he went into the game with the intention of letting Treon throw the ball some. Why not do that toward the end of the game, with a 3 possession lead? It was safer, fine… is that really why though?

    We all know Muschamp wanted to be a ground and pound team from the start. It worked against Georgia, and that is great. Will it work every game? NOPE. We have seen it tried, at Florida, and it didnt work. Being 1 dimensional is a bad idea, and we all know that!

    What happens now? Will he finally unleash Roper and Treon? Will be Vandy be a safe enough opponent to take that chance or will he run the ball all game again? If he does choose the ground and pound, we wont be ready for FSU, and may not be ready for USC.

    I dont want him back because I think he remains too involved in the offense and too in love with the run game. Just like starting Driskel, he will make the same bad calls on offense, over and over again, to the detriment of the team.

    1. The love affair with Driskel is really over the top. Roper mentioned Driskel again as if they are planning to use him in some capacity (which could include throwing the ball): “The healthier he gets, the better he feels, and then some of that role can take place, like the Matt Jones role [taking direct snaps] at quarterback. That’s a role that obviously Jeff can do really well at 230 pounds, 240 pounds, if he is feeling really well,” said Roper. “Now they’ve got to defend the pass more in that sense, too. So that role can obviously grow depending on how he is feeling.”

      It’s baffling to me that a risk averse Muschamp would take such a huge risk by putting Driskel in again. All it takes for Driskel to screw it up is just one fumbled snap, one bad throw that leads to a pick six. Why risk it? THIS is what makes Muschamp a bad coach: not knowing when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.

      Read more: http://www.onlygators.com/11/05/2014/114-kurt-roper-on-florida-gators-passing-game-treon-harris-jeff-driskel-new-role-receivers-blocking-demarcus-robinson/#ixzz3IEpBycdY
      ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive

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