Updated at 4:15 p.m.
Head coach Will Muschamp on Monday interviewed Duke Blue Devils offensive coordinator Kurt Roper for the same position on the Florida Gators staff, according to CoachingSearch.com, and was still in the process of doing so as of press time.
According to the travel history of the University Athletic Association’s private jet, Muschamp or Florida representatives flew into Raleigh, NC, Monday morning around 6 a.m. but left a half hour later, arriving back in Gainesville, FL at 8 a.m. with Roper as a passenger. The same flight departed from Gainesville in the afternoon and has already set down back in Raleigh.
One of five finalists for the 2013 Broyles Award (which is handed out to the best assistant coach in college football), Roper is in his fifth season at Duke and also serves as the program’s assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach. His unit has finished top-70 nationally each of the last two seasons in both scoring and total offense.
Roper has been a highly-regarded assistant throughout his career, which includes plenty of experience in the Southeastern Conference. He started off by serving as a graduate assistant at Tennessee (1996-98) before moving on to Ole Miss and working under David Cutcliffe as a quarterbacks coach (1999-01) and passing game coordinator (2002-04). In the latter role, Roper helped direct Eli Manning to a 2003 SEC Player of the Year Award; he would eventually become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.
Muschamp and Roper went head-to-head on the gridiron from 2002-04 with the former LSU defensive coordinator finishing 3-0 in their battles. Ole Miss fell 14-13 in 2002, 17-14 in 2003 and 27-24 in 2004. According to Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com, Roper was also the Rebels’ play caller when they put together a 35-24 win over the Tigers in 2001 when Muschamp served as LSU’s linebackers coach.
When Cutcliffe was fired, Roper moved on and coached quarterbacks under head coach Rich Brooks (and offensive coordinator Joker Phillips) at Kentucky in 2005. He then spent two years working as a running backs coach at Tennessee before taking his current position back at Duke, both with Cutcliffe as his boss.
In his first two seasons with the Blue Devils, Roper helped turn QB Thad Lewis into a two-time All-ACC selection who finished his career as the school’s all-time leading passer, setting more than 50 program records.
As Duke began improving the talent on its roster, the team’s offensive production spiked. In 2012, the Blue Devils set single-season records for total points and points per game, numbers Duke eclipsed in 2013 with a total of 411 points (31.6 per game).
The Gators are replacing offensive coordinator Brent Pease, whose units at Florida finished 103rd and 113th in total offense over each of the last two seasons, respectively.