Florida Gators coaching search
Ah, a coaching search. So much fun. Such little stress. Not taxing whatsoever on my time, energy or sleep patterns, which are already way too out-of-whack. The simple fact is that this will likely be a long and tedious search and no one will experience that as much first-hand as athletic director Jeremy Foley, who not only has to go through the entire process but is also tasked with making the all-important decision.
As this process unfolds, you are going to see such a wide variety of lists and reports posted by different media outlets that your head may spin. My hope with the candidate list that OnlyGators.com posted on Sunday was that you would understand it to be a pros-and-cons breakdown of some of the most talked-about names for the job that also provided you with a comprehensive list of names that could fit what the Gators are looking for in their next coach.
Many of the names on that list were ones I was asked about immediately via Twitter or email – What do you think about XYZ? – while others were coaches I thought were legitimate and interesting candidates for the job. I purposely did not even put some names on there – Steve Addazio, Kerwin Bell, Butch Davis, Jon Gruden, Tim Tebow – because I gave you all the benefit of the doubt that you did not think they were actual candidates for the job. Thank you for proving me right on that.
So here we are, five days after the announcement of Will Muschamp’s dismissal, and seemingly all I am being asked is who I actually believe are the legitimate candidates. I’ll tell you, because the truth is that it’s not all that hard to eliminate names.
Before I get into that quick list, let me lay down one rule for you about this hire: believe Foley. On Monday, Foley said he is looking for a “high-integrity, high-character” individual who meets the mantra “championship experience with integrity.” He has no plans to deal with someone who has committed NCAA violations, broken the law or is not considered trustworthy by his peers. These issues made up many of the cons in the initial breakdown.
Foley also wants someone who has a “track record of success on the offensive side of the ball,” though the coach need not have an offensive background himself. Foley was not blowing smoke; he means what he said.
So based on those criteria, here is a list of six coaches (some of which are commonly mentioned, others not) who I believe are legitimate options for this job, in no particular order: Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss), Gary Patterson (TCU), Jim McElwain (Colorado State), Jim Mora Jr. (UCLA), Mark Hudspeth (UL-Lafayette), Justin Fuente (Memphis).
Return of the OGGOA Mailbag
Years ago, when OnlyGators.com was still in its infancy, we ran an OGGOA Mailbag that took some of the top questions you asked via email and provided answers to them.
Though the questions have been fast and furious since Sunday, when Muschamp was officially dismissed by Foley, a couple of interesting ones happened to come in on Tuesday and Wednesday via Twitter. Therefore, let’s open up the old OGGOA Mailbag and answer them one-by-one.
@mmajosh: do you think there is any chance any of the coordinators stay on board when Boom leaves?
While there is certainly a chance that Kurt Roper and/or D.J. Durkin remain with Florida in their current roles, it is unlikely. In fact, the only Gators coordinator (offensive or defensive) who has kept his job between head coaches in consecutive seasons since 1960 (I did not have the motivation to keep checking past then) is Charlie Strong, and he is not only a special talent but was also forced to share the defensive coordinator role with Greg Mattison. When you consider that Roper has deep ties with a variety of coaches and Durkin was for the most part running Muschamp’s defense, it is unlikely that either remain. (Durkin has some strong ties of his own, by the way, and I’ve always contended that he would be an interesting choice for head coach of a MAC school.)
That being said, the next Florida coach would be smart to retain some assistants, such as defensive backs coach and star recruiter Travaris Robinson, defensive line coach Brad Lawing, current wide receivers coach Chris Leak (if he’s moved to a quarterback coach role) and running backs coach Brian White (a versatile stalwart who has been with the Gators for six seasons). Durkin was at his best as a special teams coach, so if he would accept a “demotion,” that would be a no-brainer.
@BrunoSahara: could any one missed recruit or asst coach have changed muschamp’s fate? If so, which one(s)?
The way things played out, it is hard to pinpoint one player or hire that could have made that much of a difference for Muschamp, especially when Florida missed on so many players and Muschamp hired so many assistants. Consider that many of the Gators’ top targets at running back and wideout over the last few years are thriving elsewhere (including at Florida State) – I’d run down the list, but you’d probably get queasy. Then realize that Muschamp has gone through three offensive coordinators, four wide receivers coaches and three offensive line coaches in four years. That’s insane.
Now, that being said, had Muschamp never hired Charlie Weis as his first offensive coordinator, perhaps his fate would have been different. If Muschamp had hit on the right offensive coordinator his first go-around and found offensive success during his first season or two, the recruits would have come, there would have been less turnover with assistants and players would have gotten comfortable learning a single system for a few years. But barring the hindsight to go back and change Muschamp’s biggest hire, no other assistant or individual recruit would have made that much difference. Plus, while Muschamp may never have called the plays on offense, he absolutely dictated Florida’s style of play. And putting out a conservative offense when you need to go out and win a game is something that only works some of the time.
@ScottLerner: IF we do make it to a Bowl who do you think will coach?
First, barring an unforeseen collapse, Florida should run through Eastern Kentucky on Saturday and become bowl-eligible with six wins. (And for those of you who have asked whether UF would petition to play in a bowl game with just five wins should it lose to EKU on Saturday, the answer is absolutely not. The Gators will fail to sell all of their tickets for whatever bowl they make as-is and owe said bowl plenty of money for the unsold allotment; the last thing Florida would do is beg to put itself in that situation because of a cancelled game.)
Now onto the question at hand. I could see it going a few ways. As the second-longest-tenured member of the staff, Durkin will probably get the chance (five years with the program), though the Gators will likely need someone giving 100 percent effort to defense with Muschamp not there. The same goes for Roper with Florida needing 100 percent concentration on the offensive side of the ball. It is definitely possible that Lawing – the team’s assistant head coach – gets the chance. In the end though, I’d guess that it goes to Durkin.
@iketaylor: Is it possible that the current staff prepares for the bowl game while the new staff recruits like Urban did at OSU?
Well, the current staff will absolutely be preparing for the bowl game, but whether Florida’s next hire will have a staff of his own in place to begin recruiting that early is another story. You must also remember that Ohio State’s hire of Meyer was unique because he was out of coaching, so he had no other responsibilities and was able to immediately go to work recruiting for the Buckeyes.
Chances are that whoever the Gators hire will be the head coach of another program; while it is not uncommon for a coach to leave his team before a bowl game (and Florida, I’m sure, would ask that he do just that), if that coach wishes to bring his assistants along (or add some from other programs), it is not likely he could just pull them all out of their contracted jobs.
Not Only Gators: Dumb and Dumber To
While not nearly as laugh-out-loud hysterical as the original, Dumb and Dumber To is definitely a must-see if you enjoyed the adventures of Lloyd and Harry some 20 years ago. The guys are older, some of the jokes are a bit tamer, and the story is actually somewhat weak compared to the original. Nevertheless, there are plenty of callbacks and gags to make this film well worth a watch. Plus, when Harry sees Kathleen Turner and says, “Excuse me, sir,” I almost fell out of my seat laughing.
You certainly do not need to run to the theater as this will play just fine at home – though a full theater for a comedy like this does naturally make it funnier – but you will absolutely have a hankering for the original by the time you’re done. Simply put, I look forward to Dumb and Dumber For in 2034.
This Week’s Movie Trailer
The Top 5 List
From the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska…
Worst high-end purchases ($100+) I’ve made:
1. Sega Saturn
2. Nike FuelBand (original)
3. Every extended warranty ever (for a product)
4. My high school ring (college ring would have been much smarter)
5. My current couch
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