Snell’s Slant: Upset yet excited for Florida’s future

By Adam Silverstein
November 20, 2014

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

So after four long years, the Will Muschamp experiment has reached a conclusion. Most of us saw this coming, some thought/hoped it would be sooner, others believed it could be avoided but felt deep down that it would eventually happen. No matter, at the end of the 2014 season, Muschamp will no longer be the head coach of the Florida Gators.

But this is not about beating Muschamp while he is down; that is unnecessary as he came to the Gators, his hometown team, to do his best. At the end of the day, Muschamp wanted to win and create excitement for Gator Nation; he was just never able to put all the pieces together, especially on the offensive side of the ball. What is truly unfortunate about this situation is that Muschamp, as a man, is well-respected and well-liked by most that encounter him. Do not get it twisted: the Florida players love him, and his assistant coaches admired his work ethic even if they did not always agree with his decisions. But those things can only matter so much when you are making $3 million per season and not winning games, especially important ones – at home – against SEC opponents.


As a former player and someone who remains close to the program, part of me is upset that we lost a coach who truly worked his ass off every day he came into the building. There is no one around the program that would ever question his work ethic or dedication.

Yet, a bigger part of me is excited – about the future. For the second time in his career, athletic director Jeremy Foley has the ability to correct a mistake with a blockbuster hire, one that will not just excite the fan base but save recruiting and turn the team around on a dime. The only thing left to figure out is who that hire will be and how he will go about winning the remaining players over from the get-go.

The unfortunate part of any coaching change, and especially this one, is that players and recruits build strong bonds with coaches, especially guys like Muschamp. Some of Florida’s players will leave; more commitments may choose to look elsewhere.

They always tell high school players to commit to the school, not the coach, but while many follow that mantra, not all do. When I finalized my list years ago, it was not the school that necessarily that won me over, but the coaches that I knew would play an important role in my life over the next four to five years. I committed to the University of Florida and Steve Spurrier. Just like some of these young men committed to the University of Florida and Will Muschamp.

Regardless of what happened over the last four years, and how much I criticized the Gators at times, I will always respect Muschamp for the job he did. For a first-time coach, it was not as bad as many made it seems; in fact, the issues were mostly on one side of the ball and due in large part to an issue at one position.

The problem is that the Florida job is not a trial-and-error position. It is as big as it gets in this industry, as Muschamp said when he got the job and admitted now that it is no longer his. He understands that he just did not get it done, but you know what, he probably will elsewhere very soon.

A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell joined OnlyGators.com in 2012 as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team. He is now in his third year sharing his musings and will do so through the 2014 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 of those contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.

21 Comments

  1. Dave Massey says:

    Shame Muschamp didn’t do better, but it is what it is.

  2. Michael Jones says:

    I agree that Muschamp tried hard and is probably a pretty good guy in normal life who is liked and respected by those around him. I always felt that it was bad to go after him personally, even though there were times when I probably went too far in my frustration with his stubbornness.

    But trying hard, as commendable as that is, isn’t enough if you are not the right man at the right time for the job. The analogy I use is me training and trying my hardest to run a 3:30 mile. You can admire my effort, but I’ll never be able to do it. That’s how I felt about Muschamp as the Gators’ head football coach.

    But now that it is over, I agree with you, Shannon, that piling on is not the appropriate tact. It is always a sad thing when someone tries hard but fails at an opportunity that means a lot to them. . whether it’s a mom and pop restaurant, or the head coaching job at U.F. As I’ve said before, I wish Champ nothing but the best, except for anytime that he’s coaching against U.F.

    Go Gators!!!!

    • G2 says:

      Well said! Hope he isn’t coaching next season, hate to think he might be taking some of our top recruits along with him wherever he goes, especially if it happens to be in the SEC (Auburn, SC, etc).

      • Dave Massey says:

        Uh, what top recruits are you talking about him taking? We have zero five star recruits, two Rivals four star recruits, and the other seven are three stars. Not exactly a class anywhere near the top. That wouldn’t be like we were losing a recruiting bonanza even if they all went elsewhere.

        • G2 says:

          Not talking about any of the guys that are actually committed, its the 5 star UF leans that haven’t pulled the trigger due to the uncertainty of our coaching nightmare.

  3. 305Gator says:

    Agree with Shannon 100%. I haven’t seen anyone bad mouthing Muschamp here. Just pointing out the fact that he failed to win enough games.
    ” the issues were mostly on one side of the ball and due in large part to an issue at one position.” Very true and unfortunate that it is the #1 position on the team. When your QB regresses and fails miserably and your offense can’t score enough points it doesn’t matter how well you play defense you will still lose. And lose we did.
    I too am excited about the future and believe that the right hire will be able to bring in the recruits that are on the fence. I don’t think the Muschamp firing will do much damage to recruiting since our top 2 pledges already decomited even before he was fired plus so far his 2015 class is very thin as is. Now that it is settled that he is gone the new guy will have an easier time bringing in talent.

  4. Gatoralum88 says:

    Right on Shannon! “The Florida job is not a trial-and-error position. It is as big as it gets in this industry”. We can only hope Foley now realizes the error in his ways (at least 2 of his 3) & is able to find (as you put it) “a blockbuster hire” who’s been a successful HEAD coach. With the state of their current recruiting class, it’s what they’ll need to keep the remaining commitments (who are mostly out of state kids) to stay committed & hopefully convince those “wait & see” kids (Cowart, Ivey, Jefferson) to sign on.

    Also, we can only hope the new head coach knows enough not to start nice guy Driskel (if he stays) despite how well he may perform in practice. That ship has sailed…& sunk…as WM found out the hard way.

    As for Muschamp, while he did mellow some on the sidelines over his 4 years he has more maturing to do there IMO. I wouldn’t rush into a big step back if I were him. In fact, he can take a 3 year paid vacation (at $2.1 mill/year) & relax if he’d like (We should all be so lucky!). He’s probably best suited for & would enjoy coaching more on a pro team than fixing defenses for Steve Spurrier or Kevin Sumlin. It’s too bad he wasn’t able to add more “Champ” credits to his name while here. Go Gators!

    • Michael J. says:

      I don’t think you understand coaches. Muschamp won’t sit out, he likes to coach. If it’s something you like to do, you , of course, do it. It’s also true that if someone does sit out like you suggest, the prospect of them actually getting another job diminishes rapidly. The coaches you see on the TV shows are there, for the most part, because no one wants them. There are exceptions, Bill Cowart comes to mind, and Lindy Infante was quite content with the bundle of cash he received and quit coaching. Some guys that have been head coaches have egos too big to accept being assistants again. I think Phil Fulmer could have had a job a long tome ago if he had been willing to be an assistant coach. I don’t see Muschamp as the type of person with a huge ego, sure it will sting to work for someone else, but I think he’d rather do that and swallow his pride than sit at home.

  5. UFGATORFAN100 says:

    Great Article Shannon. I wanted to ask you a Question and Include a Comment.

    IF you saw the MUSCHAMP press Conference plus Foley Press Conference. I thought only Mike Bianci from Orlando Sentinel asked the Tough Question to Foley “GATOR FANS blame you for bringing Muschamp here” cause of him Program Lows and digression.

    Question: Do you Agree with Bianci? Also, considering 11~2 Season was an Anomaly I don’t understand why Foley gave Him a Contract Extension that we are now Eating $6.3 Million…. I didn’t understand why he would do that after He just came OFF 7~6 Season?

    COMMENT: I followed your Twitter feeds through the South Carolina game your frustration anger and disbelief we’re showing incredibly…. I agreed with all of it and I felt that you were done with the Muschamp Era comments?

  6. Michael Jones says:

    Just re-read it and caught the part about the “issues were mostly on one side of the ball and due in large part to an issue at one position.” I don’t buy that.

    First of all, if it’s not cool to continue to pile on a fired millionaire, then its really not cool to continue to pile on Jeff Driskel. I’m way over that and still think that Jeff is as much a victim of poor coaching and too many coordinators/systems as anything. I’ve heard fans from other programs laugh at our infatuation with Harris, especially after him missing wide open guys badly against USC. I like Treon and he’s young, but I’m sick of Driskel being everybody’s punching bag. Where’s all this whiny Muschamp-compassion for Jeff Driskel?

    Secondly, our defense is often over-rated. Bama set a record against our great defense. Arkansas just shut out LSU and we let them convert on a strategic 3rd-and-a-mile at home and run the ball down our throats. We were also lame against Mizzou (when the defense was on the field) and I thought that UK lit us up pretty good while we made their decent QB look like all-SEC.

    Let’s just try to say goodbye nicely to Muschamp without feeling the necessity to kick-in whatever teeth Jeff Driskel has left.

    • Michael J. says:

      Just like it’s time to put Muschamp in the past, the same goes for Driskel. He is, and always has been, a bad quarterback. He was never talented, even if people kept saying he was. Just because someone looks the part doesn’t mean they are the real item. He was a member of the All Airport team, a guy that you say “Wow” when you see him and then he gets on the field and can’t play a lick. Roper said it best, it doesn’t matter what the scheme is, a good player will succeed. Jeff Driskel sucks as a quarterback. I told you that a long time ago, even before the season started that Driskel sucked, when are you going to give up this fantasy and stop making excuses for the guy? He was a guy that was rated high because of his physical characteristics, not anything he did on the field. Even in high school he was a mediocre quarterback. No high school team hat faced Driskel ever worried about him. He was a product of camps and seven on seven drills. where his lack of skill in a real game was hidden. He was, and is a colossal five star bust.

      • Michael Jones says:

        Except for the day he kicked your ass-s in Tallahassee, yours and your over-rated #1 draft pick QB, Manuel, the one who’s riding the pine in Buffalo right now for an old man that the Bills had to beg out of retirement.

        He wasn’t a bust on that day, was he, my good man? Broke your hearts.

        Hhhmmmmmm. . . .. wouldn’t it be funny if the same thing happened again on 11/29/14? I mean, maybe not funny to you. . probably devastating to you. . . but hilarious to the actual Gator fans who are supposed to be on this site, Mr. Trollatollah.

        The fact that you have so much disdain for Driskel only makes me like him more.

        • Dave Massey says:

          Trollatollah, that’s a good one, I’ll give you a thumbs up for that one. I don’t read anything the trollatollah posts on here, if I wanted to read crap like he writes I would go visit nole sites. The guy is kind of creepy the way he tries to somewhat pretend he’s a Gator fan. There is no doubt in my mind that you are a true blue Gator fan, even though we disagree on some things, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is a nole troll.

    • Dave Massey says:

      So instead we should kick the teeth of the rest of the team……….like you just did?

  7. Mike the Red says:

    The sad thing is that muschamp may become a good hc someday. If he coaches under a good hc, he may learn a few things this time around.

    • Dave Massey says:

      No doubt he is a very knowledgeable and capable coach and man. The most disappointing thing to me is losing his integrity. For him to succeed as a head coach he is clearly going to have to change his offensive philosophy. If he does that the sky is the limit for him, unfortunately he won’t be doing that here.

  8. Shannon Snell Shannon Snell says:

    I have no problems with Driskel Mr. Jones. Great guy. I didn’t even mention his name. However, I do think he was limited in what he could do on the field and what he did do, he made a ton of mistakes. Mistakes that cost games. (Mizzou & LSU alone this year.) Muschamp put a lot of his faith in him the last few years, and the play at that position is one of biggest reasons why he won’t be the coach of UF moving forward. I not kicking either one of the guys while they’re down, but I don’t think there should be any problem or debate when stating the obvious.

    • Michael Jones says:

      I respectfully disagree. Did Jeff drop the game-winning pass against LSU? How about all of the other passes that were dropped? Was he on the kick or punt coverage units? The blown blocking assignments? It seemed like he was constantly under seige as his confidence continued to wane.

      Jeff didn’t develop as I thought he would/should and he even regressed. I’ll give you that. And it’s puzzling. Not saying Jeff had a great or even a good year. He had a bad year. But I still feel he caught way too much of the blame and his mistakes were magnified over the mistakes of others.

      I guess we’ll just disagree. Thank you for your nice response, though. I appreciate being able to exchange opposing thoughts and ideas in a civil tone.

      Go Gators!!!

      • Dave Massey says:

        Driskel did throw the game losing interception against LSU and gave up two six point turnovers to Missouri. The team didn’t believe and follow him, which to me has been his biggest failure. Harris has not been spectacular by any stretch of the imagination but the team responded to him. That is the way of locker rooms and football teams. So I don’t want to hear any crap about throwing everybody off the team.

        Oh, and the last time I heard….wait a minute, let me check with all my friends…..yep, we all agree, quarterback is still the most important position on the team.

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