Will Muschamp, Jim McElwain, and Why I’ll Be Renewing My Season Tickets Regardless

Somewhere along the line, Will Muschamp lost his way. The man that was hired to be the head coach of the Florida Gators nearly four years ago could no longer cut it as the leader of the orange and blue footballers.

Jim McElwain

It was sad at times to see our once great program fall to the depths of a 4-8 season and follow that up with a team that couldn’t finish close games. Along the way, we seemed to know one thing—that Muschamp’s tenure at the University of Florida was quickly coming to a close and there was little chance there would be a year five.

I’m not disappointed that Muschamp won’t return. We have to be honest with ourselves in saying that the Gators weren’t cutting it over the last two calendar years. Many only had good things to say about Muschamp the person once his firing (oh, sorry, he “resigned”) was announced. That’s all good and well, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that he wasn’t winning football games. Even Ron Zook went 16-8 in the SEC. Muschamp served up a paltry 17-15 conference record. That’s right; in eight more SEC games, Muschamp only managed one more conference win than Zook.

But let’s not harp on the latest former head coach—Muschamp will get paid handsomely to coordinate a defense and will eventually be asked to be a head coach again. I wish him well, but at the same time I am excited to see what the next era in Florida Gators football brings.

That era began on December 4, 2014 with the announcement that former Alabama offensive coordinator and Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain would lead the Gators into the future. Many of you immediately yelled (or, more accurately, tweeted) “COLORADO STATE?!?” I’m forced to remind you where we found Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer.

We had forgotten McElwain, he of Bama lore. He had gone to the Rams and turned around a team while we had turned our focus back to the SEC. His three-year progression from 4-8 to 8-6 to 10-2 is impressive. Even more so when you consider Zook and Muschamp HAD NEVER BEEN HEAD COACHES!!!

He’s not the sexy name, but who is these days? Nick Saban? Yeah, never going to happen. Chip Kelly? Really not a possibility. Bringing Spurrier back? The guy is now 69 years old. McElwain, for the record is 52, or 17 years younger than the man at South Carolina. (Side note: McElwain is 17 years old than I am. That’s some weird Bermuda triangle right there.)

He’s an offensive coach. Check. He’s a good recruiter. Check (although so many of them are these days). High school coaches like him. Check. Former and current players rave about him. Check. A lot of people a whole lot smarter and more connected than I am like the hire. Check. He’s not Lane Kiffin. Check.

We have a little bit of a project on our hands, but we also did on December 31, 1989 when Spurrier was announced as the next head coach of the Gators. Spurrier was given a pass from the critics because 1) Twitter didn’t exist, and 2) if his Wikipedia page is correct, he won a Heisman Trophy as a quarterback at the University of Florida. But here was Spurrier’s record in three years at Duke: 20-13-1. He’s McElwain’s in three years at CSU: 22-16. Spurrier won 59% of his college-coached games before coming to Florida; McElwain won 58% of his.

I’m not saying McElwain will be Florida’s savior. How could I possibly know that? How could anyone? But on paper (and the Internet), he looks like a good candidate and one that we—myself included—shouldn’t have overlooked. He could be great, he could fall flat on his face, but both of those are true of anyone that would have been named the next head coach. (REMINDER THAT SABAN AND KELLY WEREN’T COMING!)

It’s about two months until I’ll receive my notice for season ticket renewal. I’ll be honest again (I’m never not) and say that I would have renewed regardless. Muschamp, McElwain, whoever—I would still be a season ticket holder in 2015. I enjoy it despite the fact that there haven’t been a whole lot of wins I’ve seen in person since becoming one, but having season tickets to Florida Gators football pleases me. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I’ll have them for a long time. I’d like more wins, of course, but I’ll go through the painful times as well. Call me what you want for having that philosophy, but it’s my choice and will be for many years to come.

So here we are Florida fans. We have a bowl game and 60 minutes of D.J. Durkin the head coach. Then we have months and months and months of watching McElwain build his Gators. The 2015 season can’t get here soon enough.

[INSERT TITLE THAT HAS TO DO WITH THE FLORIDA GATORS STRUGGLING OFFENSE, AGAIN]

My calm is my 15-month-old son. No, his name isn’t Tim or Percy or Danny or Reggie, but he’s awesome all the same. He’s at the perfect age where he loves the Florida Gators, but also doesn’t know they exist. I can say “Where’s chomp chomp?” and he’ll run to his playroom, find his football with the Florida Gators logo, run back to me, and point at the logo. He does so smiling the entire time as if nothing could make him happier. When the games start, he points at the television, cheers and sometimes even claps (he does the same for Chugginton and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). The key, though, is that he has no idea what’s really happening. He doesn’t know they are playing football and has no idea who wins or loses. Not only does he not know the outcome, he doesn’t care. He likes chomp chomp, but has no concern over silly things like scores. The game ends and it just means it’s time to play with Daddy. That makes him happy and it makes me happy. He is my calm and the reason I haven’t seriously thought about seeing how far I can launch my Gators garden gnome into the conservation area behind our house.

Tyler Murphy Florida Gators

This season has given us all many reasons to not be calm. There is an offense ranked in the 100s, where it has been during Will Muschamp’s entire tenure. Even without injuries to its starting quarterback and running back, the offense was far from productive. It was a case of “let’s hope this works, but not get too risky in the process.” You know, because taking chances is highly overrated. It has essentially become the opposite of exciting. And there’s nothing we can do about it, but watch, shrug and laugh (painfully).

We have to make it through four more games. I won’t say five because there’s a serious concern that the Gators won’t become bowl eligible. You’re looking at Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern and wondering how that could be possible. I’m looking at the Commodores win over Georgia and last season’s miracle victory over Louisiana-Lafayette and not penciling in game number 13 just yet. It’s so far from guaranteed, we barely want to mention a bowl. That’s not how Florida football should be, at all.

(more…)

Aubrey Hill Resigns To Avoid Being “Distraction”

By now, you know Aubrey Hill has resigned from his position as the Florida Gators wide receivers coach. Hill – linked to the Miami Hurricanes scandal – cited personal reasons, mentioning that he didn’t want to be a distraction. While the Nevin Shapiro case wasn’t mentioned specifically, it’s easy to make the connection. The NCAA is investigating the situation and Hill is one of the primary players mentioned. In all honestly, it’s probably best for all that he’s no longer a part of Florida’s staff.

From a football standpoint, Hill was a pro/con type of guy. On the pro side, he was viewed as an outstanding recruiter and an up-and-comer on the recruiting scene. Hill connected with players and was able to bond with them throughout their recruitment. But there lies the rub as well. “Players’ coaches” aren’t always, well, good coaches (see: Ron Zook); and that’s the con side. Hill’s coaching abilities were questioned and it was widely wondered how far he could take the receivers. He could bring them to Gainesville, but beyond that everyone wondered.

Regardless, the Gators have now moved on and will employ a temporary solution for the time being. Graduate assistant Bush Hamdan – a former Boise State quarterback – will oversee the wide receivers for now with a heavy dose of mentoring by offensive coordinator Brent Pease.

Illinois Fires Ron Zook: Big Ten Keeps Former Florida Head Coaches In The News

Lost in the recent news that Urban Meyer has been named the next head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, is the tale of another former Florida Gators’ head coach.

Ron Zook was fired by the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday for conduct deemed detrimental to the program (i.e. he loses more games than he wins). In seven seasons at Illinois – or about two too many – Zook compiled a 34-50 record while going an unacceptable 18-37 in the Big Ten. It initially looked like Zook wouldn’t make it past season three, but after going 4-19 in his first two seasons, he used his wish-granting genie to produce a 9-4 record and a Rose Bowl appearance in 2007. Keep in mind, Zook only gets three wishes. Being named the head coach of Florida was wish number one. 2007 was number two. He only has one left. We assume he’ll be named the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars with a fully guaranteed multi-year contract any day now.

Zook will always hold a place in the minds (notice how I didn’t say hearts) of Gators’ fans as the man that followed Steve Spurrier and gave way to Meyer. He was a great recruiter, but so are so many others these days. In the end, he wasn’t a head coach. Or at least not a highly effective one.

What keeps Zook’s Florida story alive is the fate of current head coach Will Muschamp. Zook finished his first year with Florida at 8-5. Muschamp is staring down the barrel of a possible losing season. While circumstances are different, parts are somewhat the same. It took Florida approximately two and a half seasons to realize Ron Zook was, well, Ron Zook. It took Illinois seven seasons to figure out the same. How long will it take the Gators to learn who Muschamp will be?

Heroes Of The Series: Rex Grossman – Florida Gators vs. LSU Tigers

Heroes of the Series explores some of the stars of past. These players or coaches either excelled for Florida or the Gators’ opponent of the week – in this case LSU. They may have been the star of the game or provided a spark that shifted momentum. They might be remembered for their entire careers or just for that single game. To get you riled up and more ready than you already are for the week’s matchup, it’s a two-part series with part one covering an opposing player and part two highlighting a Gator. For part one, looking at the Tigers’ night of fourth-down conversions, click here.


Rex Grossman’s final season in orange and blue was one to be forgotten. Really, the entire Ron Zook era was. Grossman was coming off a great 2001 in which he was a Heisman candidate and put up gaudy numbers during Steve Spurrier’s last hurrah in Gainesville. In 2002, the quarterback would return to earth looking uncomfortable at times trying to run the offense under a new coaching staff. 2001 was a great season for the gunslinger though and we’ll focus on one specific game.

Exactly 10 years ago today – October 6, 2001 – Grossman put on a passing clinic as the Gators dismantled the Tigers in Baton Rouge. As if going 22-for-32 for 464 yards wasn’t good enough, Grossman also threw five touchdowns and led Florida to a 44-15 victory. The Gators put up 632 yards of total offense in a game the Tigers were never in. In the first quarter alone, Grossman threw touchdowns of 13, 34, and 63 yards. His near perfect arm that day led to Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell both going over 100 yards receiving (164 and 120). Even tight end Aaron Walker averaged 17.6 yards on five receptions as the LSU defense could do nothing to stop Grossman and the Florida pass game.

For those of you that remember the game, it was everything we loved about the Spurrier offenses. For those of that don’t, all the highlights are in the video below.

Florida Gators Wide Receivers – 2010 vs. 2011

Part three in a series where One Eyed Willy and I go over the Florida roster differences position by position from this season to last and what to expect in 2011. Check out the quarterbacks here and the running backs here.
2010: Carl Moore – RSR, Justin Williams – RSR, Chris Rainey – RJR, Deonte Thompson – RJR, Frankie Hammond – RSO, Omarius Hines – RSO, Josh Postell – RSO, Stephen Alli – RFR, Andre Debose – RFR, Robert Clark – FR, Quinton Dunbar – FR, Chris Dunkley – FR, Solomon Patton – FR
Preseason Rating: B
Postseason Rating: D
Going into the 2010 season, you would have been excited to see what this unit could do. You had a senior that was a highly-touted recruit coming out of junior college, a junior moving into the role of receiver in hopes of sparking a Percy Harvin-like transformation, two sophomores who would get a chance to really make a difference, and five freshman – all of which brought something special to the game.
13 games later you would have let out a sigh and looked forward to the 2011. We will go ahead and run through the numbers:
12 – The total number of passing touchdowns.
9 – The number caught by wide receivers.
1 – Wide receivers with more than 27 receptions.
38 – The number of receptions Deonte Thompson had to lead the team.
1 – Wide receivers with more than 349 yards on the season.
570 – The numbers of yards Thompson had to lead the team.
10 – Receptions on the season for all-world prospect Andre Debose.
5 – The number of games “slash” player Chris Rainey missed due to…well…you know.
3 – The number of wide receivers that appeared in every game.
51 – The longest reception on the season.
15.0 – Highest yards per catch average on the team by, you guessed it, Thompson.
1 – 100-yard receiving games by wide receivers. It was Thompson.
And just for fun:
40 – The number of receptions Harvin had in 2008 to lead the team. We will give the wide receivers a pass that season though. After all, they were part of a national championship team.
2003 – The last year a Florida team did not have a single pass catcher with at least 40 catches. This team was coached by Ron Zook. What does that tell you?
1989 – The last Florida team to have a leading receiver with less than the 38 receptions Thompson had in 2010. This was the last team before Steve Spurrier arrived. What does that tell you?
It all tells you 2010 was not kind to the Gators wide receivers. A great deal of it had to do with two things beyond their control: shaky play calling and inconsistent quarterback play. Still, that does not change the fact that from a group of very talented players, no one stepped up. Rainey actually set a pace that, if eligible to play in every game, would have made him the receptions leader. And that is from a player who split his time at running back.
2010 is over and that is a very good thing. This is a program that saw eight-straight seasons with at least one 1,000-yard receiver during Spurrier’s time at the helm. Since that time, there have only been two 900-yard receivers. Despite bringing two national championships to Florida, Urban Meyer never had a single receiver with over 920 yards. That could be attributed to Meyer’s desire to have a large numbers of receivers on the roster, but it also never truly allowed any one to shine. That is not such a bad thing when you are going 13-1. When you are going 8-5, it is a very different story.
2011: Deonte Thompson – RSR, Frankie Hammond – RJR, Omarius Hines – RJR, Stephen Alli – RSO, Andre Debose – RSO, Robert Clark – SO, Quinton Dunbar – SO, Solomon Patton – SO, Ja’Juan Story – FR
Preseason Rating: C
As much as I hate to give another unit a C, I just have to do it. And it is because of the promise of a Charlie Weis offense that I even give them that. There are three reasons:
1. The offense is new to the program.
2. Until we see different with our own eyes, we have to expect the same inconsistent quarterback play.
3. This unit lost three bodies completely, two more to position changes and only gained one – Ja’Juan Story.
Therefore, it is very hard to expect much out of this unit. It all hinges on the first two of those items above. How long will it take for the offense to click? And how will whichever quarterback turns out to be the right one adapt? If a passer can get the ball to the receivers more often and on longer routes, we may no longer be talking about low receptions and yardage numbers. If the Gators can consistently move the ball up and down the field, we may see one wide receiver haul in nine touchdowns, not the entire unit collectively.
There is plenty to hope for when it comes to the wide receivers, but we not seen it yet out of any on the roster. Omarius Hines had flashes, but only totaled six catches over the last five games. Thompson’s best day was against Florida’s weakest opponent – Appalachian State. Debose was rumored to have problems with the playbook and was rarely seen on offense. That cannot happen again in 2011. Thompson is the lone senior and the time is now for Frankie Hammond and Hines to no longer have just “potential.” Debose needs to become a big part of the offense and Quinton Dunbar needs to live up to the hype he generated in the spring.
The talent is there. The performance has yet to be seen. Every single member of this unit needs to step up in 2011.

Could The Gators Go 6-6 In 2011? 5-7?

Do you remember The Blair Witch Project? I do. It was awful. So much so that I would probably list it among the 10 worst movies I’ve ever seen. To be fair, the premise wasn’t bad, but the hype killed it. I didn’t see the movie right away, but instead dealt with weeks of hearing how great it was and how I absolutely had to see it. Everyone that said that at the time deserves a punch in the face. When I finally got the chance to check it out, I was more than disappointed. It was boring, not remotely frightening, and – as I said – awful. It far from lived up to its heightened expectations.

The 2011 Florida football team could very well turn out to be The Blair Witch Project; and that has me worried.

Gators fans have expectations that rival few regardless of the situation presented to them. Those expectations helped push Steve Spurrier to the door. They resulted in Ron Zook’s firing. They very nearly killed Urban Meyer. They also lead to pieces like this by Alligator Army’s own FlaGators. To his credit – and that of many that commented on the article – expectations seem tempered. To those few, 7-5 in 2011 is a real possibility – as pointed out in another piece by FlaGators – 8-4 sounds realistic, and 9-3 is the dream. But they are just that – the few.

Most Florida fans don’t feel that way at all. If 7-5 were to occur, they may hurl themselves off of a bridge. A new era means an improvement over last season. A new offense means the days of airing it out again. A new defense means players’ talents will be realized. It doesn’t matter that a new coaching staff is in place with new schemes to implement. It’s the University of Florida and the Gators shouldn’t settle for mediocrity.

I agree with that, to an extent. 7-5 isn’t acceptable for a program of Florida’s caliber. 10 wins should be the water mark. But look at it realistically. 7-5 could happen again and this time around it might not be that bad of an occurrence. Unlike The Blair Witch Project, if the Gators don’t live up to heightened expectations, all may be okay for the long term. What every fan wants or should want during the 2011 season is marked improvement. Whether that translates to wins is another story. 2011 is for the future of the program. It’s the very definition of a transition or even rebuilding year.

I don’t want to go 7-5, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Surprise would be 11-1. Frustration, but not surprise, would be 7-5. But what about something worse? What about 6-6? Or even 5-7? What then?

Florida is among the nation’s top programs for a number of reasons. One of those is the fact that the Gators have not had a losing or even a .500 regular season since 1979. You do the math; that’s a long time. Add postseason games to the mix and you still have to go to 1987 to find a Florida team that lost six games. By comparison, Miami went 5-7 in 2007, FSU lost six games in 2006, 2007 and 2009, three of the last six seasons have produced losing records for Tennessee, and Georgia went 6-7 in 2010. You could even go to the other of Florida’s “big” rivals – LSU. The Tigers went 3-8 in 1999.

So you can see why expectations are so high. Five losses in a season are more than just frustrating to most orange and blue supporters and six losses are unheard of. To put it into perspective, most (not all, but most I would imagine) current University of Florida undergraduate students weren’t alive when it last happened. That breeds unrivaled expectations, ones that make it nearly impossible for the Gators to get through a transition year without hearing Will Muschamp definitely wasn’t the right man for the job.” Those may have been the same individuals that once upon a time pleaded “go see that movie, TRUST ME!”

We could all live with 7-5 though. Really we could. If the offense shows improvement and if the defense plays up to its ability, we’ll accept 7-5 begrudgingly and look ahead to 2012.

6-6 is a different story though. Even think of 5-7 and you might break into a cold sweat. Is it worth falling that low? LSU won two national champions after 1999; one only four seasons after going 3-8 and another in 2007. The others didn’t, but their seasons of futility were much more recent. It is important to note, that the Tigers had a different head coach in 1999 than they did in 2003 when they won the title. The Hurricanes have a new coach and not the same man that went 5-7. The Seminoles are in a similar situation. Muschamp will get more than one season though. He should get at least three. Zook did – although he never produced a losing season.

Three seasons may be too much for Gators fans though. Say Florida does go 5-7 in 2011 then rattle off a 7-5 record in 2012. Will fans want to see Muschamp in 2013? We all think it’s highly unlikely that this would ever happen, but it could. It has happened to many similar programs. What makes Florida unique is that they haven’t experienced it in over 20 years; and that’s why Muschamp’s leash is much shorter than those at other schools. Even if we go outside of the Gators main rivalry base, the difference is staggering. Texas? 5-7 in 2010. Ohio State? 6-6 in 1999. USC? At least six losses in 1999, 2000, and 2001. Oklahoma? Three straight losing seasons from 1996 to 1998. Michigan? Alabama? Notre Dame? Nebraska? None match Florida’s streak. Think about that for one second and it makes the last 23 seasons that much more impressive. But all streaks end.

We expect seven wins, want eight, and hope for nine, but we do so without any true idea of what Florida will put on the field this season. The starting quarterback may be in a better system to support his talents, but he’s had a short time to learn it all and proved virtually nothing in 2010. The running game is dynamic and exciting, but far from consistent; the offensive line will be a work in progress; the linebackers need to become visible again; and the secondary has a 2007 feel to it. Sure the Gators won nine games that season, but some thanks have to go to Tim Tebow for that.

Then there’s the schedule. The October run of Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and Georgia is brutal. The Gators visit South Carolina and host FSU in November. The odds of losing all six of those games are slim, but, again, it could happen. What about Tennessee or even Kentucky? Even lower odds. Much lower, but we aren’t remotely sure what we’re looking at. So why are Florida fans thinking nine wins will be easy? Hope? Unwavering support? Both seem plausible. Both can end up punching you in the gut.

We want to believe it can’t happen to the Gators. There is no such thing as a losing season. Even at their worst, Florida wins more than it loses. It has been that way for more than two decades. So much so that expectations are too high. We believe Muschamp should win immediately. If he couldn’t, then why did Jeremy Foley hire him? (To that point, why did he hire Zook? But let’s not go down that path in this piece.)

I, like most of you, have looked at the schedule at least once a week since it was released. I can see 8-4 and, yes, even 9-3. I can also see disaster. The lump in my throat builds and I almost feel nauseous. Not just because I worry for the team, but I worry for the fans. I worry about what will be said. For every rational piece we’ll read this season after a loss, we’ll read 10 describing a sinking ship and pointing out that the sky is falling. It’s the nature of the Florida fan. It’s the same reason why many are okay with the fact that Meyer is gone despite the fact that he produced three 13-1 seasons and two national championships. If a five-loss season is as bad as it seemed, six means the world has come to an end.

Try to put it into perspective when the season does eventually begin. This is a team, a coaching staff, and a program with more questions than it has had in recent memory. As hard as this may be to grasp, the record may mean nothing in 2011. Florida could go 6-6 and actually be a better team than they were in 2010. If you don’t believe me, I implore you to go back and watch last season’s outings against Mississippi State, South Carolina, and FSU. If you think the only way the Gators can be better in 2011 is if they produce an 8-4 regular season, then you are sorely mistaken. 2011 will be about answering those questions and redefining the program.

After Florida went 6-6 in 1987, they produced back-to-back 7-5 records, but then Spurrier arrived and it wouldn’t be until after he left that the Gators would lose more than four in a season again. 2010’s five losses could be five or six or even seven in 2011, but how they happen is what’s important. Temper your expectations for one year and allow questions to be asked and answers to be found. Don’t go into the season expecting all to be right in orange and blue land. Go into it knowing that we really don’t know much and we’ll all be learning what the future brings together. Don’t let expectations ruin whatever the 2011 produces for the Florida Gators.

Florida Gators Name Will Muschamp Head Coach

AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 8: Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp of the Texas Longhorns cheers on his team against the Baylor Bears in the second quarter on November 8, 2008 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  Texas won 45-21. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)On Friday, it seemed as if Boise State’s Chris Petersen would be the next Florida head coach as rumored swirled that he was meeting with athletic director Jeremy Foley. For the first half of the day on Saturday, rumors pointed to Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops returning to the Gators and agreeing to a mind-shattering 10-year, $55 million deal. Then on Saturday evening, the surprise announcement came. Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp became the 22nd head coach in Florida history.

Sure the announcement came as a surprise, but it shouldn’t come as a disappointment. While rumors circulated citing Petersen, Stoops, and a number of other current head coaches as serious candidates, Foley was working hard on inking a coordinator to a deal. The surprise is because while many had Muschamp on their list of possibilities, almost everyone expected the Gators to go with someone who had pervious head coaching experience. And not just some head coaching experience, but a good amount. In Jimbo Fisher-esque fashion, that wasn’t the case in the end. Florida went with a guy who has yet to be a head coach.

This might be where a little bit of nervousness sets in. The last time Florida named a head coach who hadn’t been a head coach before brought on the Ron Zook era. Remembering that era is sickening to Gator fans and one they work hard to forget. Zook had been in the NFL for the previous six seasons and had never been seriously mentioned as a head coaching candidate anywhere. Not many considered him to have a realistic shot at getting a top job. At times, he was even questioned as an assistant. The same can’t be said about Muschamp.

The now former Longhorn assistant has been linked with a number of head coaching jobs over the past few years and Texas even went as far as to name him their coach-in-waiting. But that’s where the Longhorns went wrong. There was no timetable, Mack Brown was signed through 2016 and had no plans to leave, and there was no buyout clause in Muschamp’s contract. While it made sense for Muschamp to agree to the deal, there was nothing stopping him from leaving for the right job. That job came.

While we’ll never know how much truth there is to this, supposedly Foley only offered one man the job. From the moment Urban Meyer resigned, Foley went after Muschamp. And he got his man, agreeing to a six-year deal with the new Florida head coach. A head coach who knows the city (he lived in Gainesville for 10 years), knows the conference (Muschamp played at Georgia and coached at both Auburn and LSU), and know big games (plenty to mention here). He’s definitely a high energy guy and one that has been given the label of “great” when it comes to recruiting.

Critics will look at Texas’ 2010 season and yell out “huh?!?” but there’s more to that number than Muschamp’s leadership. The Longhorns had a number of problems and Muschamp didn’t suddenly become a bad coach this season. If you’re worried about the 2010 numbers, look back further. In 2008, 18th in the nation in scoring defense. In 2009, 12th. In 2003 – while the defensive coordinator at LSU – the Tigers won the National Championship while Muschamp led the nation’s number one defense in terms of points and yards allowed. 2010 wasn’t ideal, but it was also an extreme outlier.

Muschamp isn’t Stoops. He isn’t even Petersen. But he also isn’t Zook. He’s a solid choice who has a chance to put together a good, young staff that kids love to play for, love to win for, and respect. Muschamp also won’t be the two-year fix type if it works out. Many mentioned Jim Harbaugh as their top choice. Harbaugh wouldn’t have come to Florida, first of all, but he also wouldn’t have stayed after the NFL offers started pouring in. For Muschamp, this is THE job. He, like Fisher at FSU, could find himself with the Gators for the long term if he can get off to a good start. And there’s no reason to believe he won’t. Or at least won’t have every opportunity to.

Florida will always be Florida when it comes to talent. Even Zook pulled in elite players year after year. The problem was Zook couldn’t translate that ability to the field. Even as an assistant, Zook’s abilities were questioned (he was demoted from defensive coordinator to special teams while under Steve Spurrier at Florida). The same can’t be said about Muschamp. Many have been waiting for him to get a head coaching job. It was only a matter of time and he was always linked to substantial programs – Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee, and Washington. Muschamp remained one of the top coordinators to watch over the last few seasons. A program was going to get him and Florida ended up being the one.

As with every hire, time will tell how this plays out. There’s visible nervousness over hiring a man without head coaching experience, but if you’re going to go that route, Muschamp is one of the few you would want. There are those that are disappointed and those that are excited. The same could have been said regardless of who was hired, but this could turn out to be a good one. And one we didn’t have to wait weeks for. That Foley got his man as quickly as he did is extremely important. With recruiting a year-round function of the job, major programs can only be without a coach for so long. Days at the most. Weeks cause problems. Programs such as Florida need to move on and move on quick. The mourning period has to be brief. So in only days, the Gators got a new head coach. One we should all welcome.

Shocking! The Big Ten Will Play Games in December

In a stunning development, the Big Ten (actually the Big Eleven, probably soon to be called the Big Twelve or Big Fourteen, and Big Sixteen is even a possibility) has decided “hey, let’s play some games in December!”  Why not?  Everyone else is doing it.
Although there’s usually a huge gap between the last game of the regular season or conference championship game and a BCS contest for those teams that make it, it’s always been much bigger for the Big Ten.  For instance, in 2006, when Florida destroyed (yes, that’s right, it was an annihilation) Ohio State in the championship game, the Gators has played their previous game much closer to the title game than the Buckeyes.  It was Ohio State’s first game in 51 days.  For Florida, the layoff had only been 37 days.  While both numbers seem high considering teams are off for over a month, 51 days is bordering on insane.
Part of the reason has to do with the SEC having a championship game (something the Big Ten is looking to remedy), but the other part has to do with the Big Ten and their wacky school scheduling.  Teams are typically playing their final game in November and sometimes even before Thanksgiving.  At least, the Pac-10 and Big East (also without championship games) extend their regular season into December.  Of course, for schools in those conferences, weather isn’t as much of an issue.
Two Big Ten programs have taken note and are moving their matchup to the final month of the year.  In 2011, Illinois will host Wisconsin on December 3.  And in 2012, the Fighting Illini will travel to battle the Badgers on December 1.  The goal is to prepare both teams for better for their upcoming bowl games.  Okay, okay.  The goal is to prepare non-Ron Zook-coached teams for their upcoming bowl games.
This is where I would typically say “follow suit other Big Ten schools,” but that probably isn’t needed.  Expansion will solve this problem soon enough.  But in the meantime, the longer layoff only hurts.  Keep your players fresh and get those December games scheduled.

The Long Snapper (3/9/10)

Starting the week off right with another Marvin Kloss story.  Quick recap for those of you that didn’t read my many mentions of the kid or never cared in the first place.  According to some kicking school you’ve never heard of, Kloss was one of the best kicker prospects in the nation.  According to the big-budget recruiting sites, Kloss didn’t exist.  He was offered a scholarship from USF, but turned it down for a chance to go to Florida.  After realizing there was a good chance he wouldn’t qualify, he decided to return to the green and gold and attempt to walk on.  So why am I mentioning him yet again?  Because Kloss was recently arrested on charges of grand theft.  The story is one of those “good job idiot, way to think about your future” ones we all love so much.  Kloss and a high school teammate are accused of stealing over $8,000 worth of items from a home during a party.  A party thrown by not the owner of the house, but by someone who was watching the house while the owner was out of town.  Think Kloss still has preferred walk on status at USF?  I’m going to go with “probably not.”  Skip Holtz has already shown what he tolerates and doesn’t.  If Kloss ever wears a Bulls’ uniform, I’d be very surprised.  But let’s at least hope he doesn’t something to warrant another Long Snapper inclusion in the near future.
Joel Miller has decided not to go forth with a lawsuit against former USF coach Jim Leavitt.  He said everything you would hope someone would say but never does.  That he doesn’t want to make any money off of the incident despite what people think.  Miller felt he had to tell the truth, but claims he didn’t do so to make money and therefore won’t sue his former head coach.  An honorable move I guess, but I’m more excited about the fact that this is just one more step to us not having to hear anymore about what did or didn’t happen in the locker room that day.  More could happen, but for most USF fans, the door is closed.  Leavitt is gone and isn’t coming back, ever.  Everyone seems to have embraced Holtz and can’t wait for his first game on the sidelines.  Think of this as just another hiccup in the ongoing story of Bulls’ football.  A year or two from now, we’ll barely be talking about it.
Matt Patchan is balls.  Anyone that has a story that starts with “so this is how I got shot” earns mention as being tougher than I am in even my best dreams.  Added to his steel is the versatility that makes Patchan desirable at whatever position he comes back at.  From defensive line as a freshman, to offensive line briefly as a sophomore, to the mention of maybe tight end (I’ll believe it when I see it) in 2010.  Right now, Patchan is doing his best to come back from a nasty ACL that cost him a real chance to earn a starting spot along the offensive line during the 2009 season.  He’ll be extremely limited during spring practices, but watch out for him come fall.  He sweats more talent than you’ll have in a lifetime and will star as whatever position he ends up at.
Joe Paterno now has his own award.  Or to be exact, he has an award named in his honor.  The winningest coach in Division 1-A/FBS history will have his name on an award given out by the Maxwell Club.  The Maxwell Club also gives out the, you guessed it, Maxwell Award.  The award givers haven’t decided exactly what the criteria for the Paterno is just yet, but it’ll be something along the lines of the affect a coach has on his team and community.  Basically exactly what embodies the man himself.  I’m still waiting for the Ron Zook Memorial Trophy, but apparently Zook is still alive and well and actually coaching football.
I’m not sure how I feel about the advancement of 3D over the last year or so when it comes to movies.  Some of the ones I’ve seen have looked great, but I have to be honest, in the end, I just end up with a headache.  Due to that, I’m not as excited about true 3D technology coming to our homes and, more importantly, sports in the not-so-distant future.  I love HD.  Who doesn’t?  I don’t feel the same way about 3D.  I’m probably in the minority with that sentiment, but oh well.  Despite the technology offered, I have to wonder if it will really catch on.  Will people really enjoy it as much as everyone seems to think?  Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.  Regardless, I’m reminded of some of the more recent technological failures.
1. Blu-ray won the war and I’m glad I didn’t end up buying this.
2. Sales, no.  Failure, yes.
3. Sony has a lot of hits.  They also have some misses.
4. I actually really enjoyed my Sega Saturn.
The Sixth Man: NCAA Tournament bid or not, USF just finished what has to be considered a great regular season.  At least by Bulls’ standards.  If you had asked me before the season who would’ve had a higher conference win percentage, the football team or the basketball team, I never in a million years would’ve guessed it the way it ended up.  Now USF heads to the Big East Tournament as the nine-seed.  As the highest seed in the first round, the Bulls will face the conference’s last place team in DePaul.  It’ll be the second time in eight days the two teams have squared off.  USF won the previous matchup 63-59.  Get by DePaul and the Bulls will face another team they beat the last time they faced them in Georgetown.  Look at it that way and it seems like the Big Dance is a real possibility.  USF needs some help, but two wins in the tournament of a conference that has five ranked teams at the moment (two of which the Bulls beat during the regular season) and they could get in.  It’s not out of the question.