Smart mulling Florida defensive coordinator offer

If you asked experts a few days ago who the top defensive coordinators in college football were, two of the first names you would hear are the Texas LonghornsWill Muschamp and Alabama Crimson Tide‘s Kirby Smart. Should things go as planned for athletic director Jeremy Foley, both may be wearing orange and blue next year.

According to numerous reports, Smart has been offered the Florida Gators defensive coordinator position under Muschamp, Florida’s new head coach and Smart’s former teammate at Georgia. The Tuscaloosa News reports that Muschamp and Smart have been “in discussions about the position in recent days.”

Additionally, a source close to UF told OGGOA on Monday afternoon that “things look really good for Smart to be at UF” though nothing is official as of press time.

Smart, who currently makes $750,000 a year while working for head coach Nick Saban at Alabama, won the 2009 Broyles Award for assistant coach of the year.

The story broke Monday when one of ESPN‘s Twitter accounts, @ESPN_MobileCFB, said Smart had “reportedly” already agreed to the job.

OGGOA will continue updating this story.

Foley made list checked it twice to pick Muschamp

When Urban Meyer resigned as head football coach of the Florida Gators on Wednesday, athletic director Jeremy Foley had already known for four days. After Meyer explained his decision to Foley the prior Saturday, the man who hired him in the first place and is one of the best at his position in the country compiled a list of the top coaches in the nation who could re place him.

That list did not contain Texas Longhorns defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

In an interview conducted with GatorZone senior writer Scott Carter on Monday, Foley admitted that his first list contained “all the names that everybody has talked about” except for one. “Will wasn’t on that list,” he said.

It wasn’t until Sunday morning that Foley began “thinking Muschamp,” realizing he could very well end up being the right guy for the job. “The more research you did on Will and the more you read about him, the more you watched him […] his familiarity with this league really intrigued me. When we got back [to Gainesville, FL], we kind of honed in on him very, very quickly.”

After sending Meyer off into the proverbial sunset three days later, Foley got on the horn with Muschamp – the first of many calls between the two men. As OGGOA previously reported, Foley flew over to Austin, TX, Saturday morning, met with Muschamp all day and eventually left with a new head coach.

“We obviously had done a lot of research on this,” Foley said. “After we sat down with him for that length of time, it was pretty evident early on that this was the guy. I think when people meet him tomorrow night [at the press conference] they will see that. […] He has a great plan to win. He wants to be here. He is ready to be a head coach in our opinion. And when you talk face-to-face, it’s impressive.”

One other note: Contrary to popular opinion, Florida hoped to announce its hiring of Muschamp after the Heisman Trophy ceremony and did not wish to upstage the event in any way. According to Carter, he plan was for Muschamp to speak with his family and Texas officials while Florida’s contingent returned to Gainesville to set everything up.

“UF officials sought to work with the Heisman Trophy Committee to make sure the news broke after the Heisman ceremony in New York, but once the news leaked out beforehand, UF sent out an official release to confirm the news for the media,” Carter explained on Monday.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Florida basketball holds steady in Top 25 polls

The Florida Gators (7-2) neither rose nor fell in the latest ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls after defeating the Kent State Golden Flashes 65-52 on Thursday. However, Florida did lose votes in both polls for the second time this season coming off a week where they were only victorious.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 7 (1,153)No. 7 (568)-
2W 68-45 vs. William & Mary1-0No. 8 (1,127)No. 7 (560)-
3L 69-67 vs. Miami
W(OT) 61-56 vs. ULM
2-1No. 18 (467)No. 16 (303)-
4L(OT) 65-66 vs. Georgetown
W 56-47 vs. UAB
L 64-75 vs. North Carolina
3-3NR (40)No. 24 (60)-

Last Week 1-25: Duke (31), Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Kansas, Kansas State, Connecticut, Syracuse, Michigan State, Baylor, Georgetown, Missouri, Villanova, Tennessee, Memphis, San Diego State, Kentucky, Illinois, Purdue, UNLV, Minnesota, Brigham Young, Washington, Notre Dame, Florida, Texas

This Week 1-25: Duke (31), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Kansas State, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Baylor, San Diego State, Villanova, Missouri, Georgetown, Illinois, Michigan State, Kentucky, Purdue, Brigham Young, Memphis, Minnesota, Louisville, UNLV, Notre Dame, Florida, Texas

Last Week 1-25: Duke (65), Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Kansas, Kansas State, Connecticut, Michigan State, Syracuse, Georgetown, Baylor, Tennessee, Villanova, Memphis, San Diego State, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Brigham Young, Purdue, UNLV, Washington, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Louisville, Texas
+ Florida received 72 votes (good for No. 26)

This Week 1-25: Duke (65), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Kansas State, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Baylor, Villanova, San Diego State, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan State, Georgetown, Brigham Young, Kentucky, Memphis, Purdue, Louisville, Minnesota, Texas, UNLV, Notre Dame, Texas A&M
+ Florida received 55 votes (good for No. 27)

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

QB Jeff Driskel remains committed to Gators

Though Florida Gators fans were concerned with who would replace head coach Urban Meyer after he resigned on Wednesday, they seemed equally worried about the commitment status of five/four-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL).

Worry no more.

Driskel, who appeared perfectly suited to run Florida’s offense under Meyer, was faced with an important decision: remain committed to the Gators and enroll early or open up his recruitment and begin taking visits.

He’s sticking with the orange and blue.

“He’s fully committed,” his mother Mary Driskel told Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post on Sunday. “He got his classes set up. He’s on his way. […] Florida’s Florida. It’s a good school and it’s a good environment. Jeff’s really happy up there. We knew they were going to hire a good coach.”

That new head coach is Will Muschamp; Driskel spoke with him while in Gainesville, FL, taking an official visit to the University of Florida this weekend.

“Sounds like a high-energy guy,” Mary Driskel told the Post. “[Muschamp] was really excited to come to Florida and really excited that Jeff is committed to Florida.”

Photo Credit: ESPN

Haden brothers continuing careers at Toledo

Former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden‘s two brothers – Jordan and Josh – have decided to play football next year for the Toledo Rockets rather than in Gainesville, FL as initially planned.

Safety Jordan Haden was a member of Florida’s heralded 2010 recruiting class but decided to transfer in August after finding that the Gators were not a good fit for him.

Running back Josh Haden, who transferred out of Boston College last year, was expected to become the next member of his family to wear the orange and blue with a plan to join the team in January.

Toledo head coach Tim Beckman was the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Bowing Green under former Gators head coach Urban Meyer from 2001-02. The school is also just over 100 miles away from where Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden plays professionally.

Report: Health issues part of Meyer’s resignation

Though Urban Meyer said at a press conference on Wednesday that he was stepping down from his position as head coach of the Florida Gators because of his family, The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley reports that Meyer’s decision was made – at least in part – due to a scare over increased health risks.

“Meyer was told by doctors last week that the symptoms he continues to experience – including burning sensations in his chest – would raise his cardiovascular risk factors, so he decided it necessitated his resignation,” Dooley reports, according to an unnamed source. “Meyer had been told a year ago that if his symptoms continued it would increase his cardiovascular risks if he kept coaching.”

The fact that Meyer was made aware of this news last week coincides with him previously and repeatedly denying any plans to resign. Even during his press conference on Wednesday, Meyer gave an indication that his health played a role in his decision.

“To say that there wasn’t a scare, that would be incorrect,” he noted. “But that’s not the reason for this press conference.”

Meyer’s current symptoms are not the same as the esophageal spasms that caused him serious chest pain last year. Apparently “the spasms have been under control” but the “other symptoms have continued,” according to the Sun.

Photo Credit: University of Florida


Source: Muschamp to hire Applewhite, Akina as Florida’s coordinators

A source close to the Florida Gators football program informed OGGOA early Sunday morning that new head coach Will Muschamp plans on hiring current Texas Longhorns assistant head coaches Major Applewhite and Duane Akina as his respective offensive and defensive coordinators at the University of Florida.

Applewhite, who was also the running backs coach at Texas, has been with the program since 2008. He was previously the offensive coordinator at Alabama (2007) and Rice (2006). A quarterback with the Longhorns from 1998-2001 who set a number of records at the school, he got his first job as a graduate assistant at Texas (2002-04) before moving on to be the QB coach at Syracuse (2005).

Akina has coached for 32 years spending 22 of them coaching defensive backs. He has been with the Longhorns since 1992 and has coached three Thorpe Award winners (six finalists) and 23 secondary players who have made it to the NFL.

It was also learned early Sunday morning that a handful of Florida’s assistants will have the opportunity to retain their positions on the staff.

OGGOA will continue updating this story and attempting to confirm the information in the above report as more information is made available to us.

BREAKING NEWS: Will Muschamp hired as Florida Gators next head football coach

The Florida Gators have hired Texas Longhorns defensive coordinator Will Muschamp as their newest head coach.

“This is a dream come true to be the head coach of the Florida Gators,” said Muschamp according to an official release from the University of Florida. “I grew up watching the Gators and whatever other SEC team was on television. I have great memories watching SEC football with my father on Saturdays and playing football in the back yard with my two brothers right here in Gainesville.”

He continued, “I’m eager to get to work and represent this great institution. I’m very thankful for the opportunity given to me by President Dr. Bernie Machen and Athletic Director Jeremy Foley. I promise to bring a tremendous amount of passion and energy to work every day and my goal is to have our team bring the same type of attitude in everything we do both on and off the field. I want our team to play hard, with relentless effort and with toughness. We want to make the Gator Nation proud.”

Muschamp, the coach-in-waiting under Mack Brown at Texas, has never held a head coaching job before. Prior to coordinating the defense for the Longhorns, Muschamp held the same position with Auburn (2006-07), the Miami Dolphins (2005), LSU (2002-04) and Valdosta State (2000).

Having turned down head coaching opportunities at schools like Clemson, Tennessee and Auburn over the years, Muschamp was named the successor to Brown in Nov. 2008; however, Brown is expected to coach Texas through at least 2016.

Now the 23rd head coach in Florida history, Muschamp is a former resident of Gainesville, FL, who lived there for 10 years as a youngster. At 39-years-old, he is the second-youngest coach in the Southeastern Conference.

Foley, who departed Gainesville for Austin, TX, at approximately 8 a.m. and arrived back in town at 8 p.m. on Saturday, wasted little time in signing a new head coach after Urban Meyer officially resigned on Wednesday.

“Coach Muschamp is someone we targeted from the beginning and he is the guy we wanted,’’ Foley said. “He is the only person we met with and the only person we offered the job to.”

He also raved about Muschamp’s experience and dedication.

“We are thrilled to have Coach Muschamp lead our football program,” Foley said. “When we started the search for our next head coach we wanted a coach who was familiar with the Southeastern Conference. We wanted a candidate who was a relentless recruiter and was familiar with recruiting in the state of Florida.

“We wanted a candidate who was high energy and had been on the big stage. We wanted a candidate who was respected by his players and his peers and we wanted someone who had a passion for the University of Florida. Coach Muschamp is all of those things and more. He is a grounded family man with a wonderful wife and two children and we welcome them into our Gator family.”

Meyer approved of the hire, noting that his replacement is a top-notch recruiter.

“He’s a tremendous recruiter,’’ Meyer said. “I have bumped into him many times over the years on the road while on recruiting trips.”

Florida will officially announce the hiring of Muschamp at a press conference at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Photo Credit: Brian Bahr/Getty Images

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