2012 SEC Tournament: (4) Florida vs. (5) Alabama

Location: New Orleans Arena [Capacity: 18,000]
Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPNU/SEC Network
SiriusXM: 220
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(19) FLORIDA GATORS ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Anthony Grant
Record: 22-9 (10-6) Record: 21-10 (9-7)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -4; O/U 128

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is 35-43 all-time in 46 SEC Tournament appearances but boasts a 20-12 record since Donovan took over the program. The Gators have won three SEC Tournaments (2005-07) and finished as the runner-up five times.
» UF is 59-73 all-time against Alabama and 4-7 against UA in SEC Tournament games. However, Florida holds a 16-5 all-time mark against their opponent while under Donovan’s stewardship and is 3-2 against them in SEC Tournament action
» Donovan is the longest-tenured head coach in the SEC (16 years) and has five former assistants currently serving as head coaches across the country, including Grant.
» All five of the Gators’ normal starters are averaging 10.0 points per game or more.
» Florida has made 10+ three-pointers in 19 of 31 games, a season-high mark under Donovan. UF has also made more treys this season (307) than any other in team history.
» Three Gators shoot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc.
» Florida has made a three in 682 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» Alabama’s defense is holding opponents to 27.8 percent shooting from downtown.
» UF led the SEC this season in assists (14.9), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3) and free throw percentage (.764) in conference play.
» The Gators are 17-1 (loss to Kentucky) this year when posting a positive assist-to-turnover ratio and are just 5-8 when the margin is even or negative.
» Florida is 287-37 since 1988-89 when holding opponents under 70 points and 237-38 since 1998-99 when recording 15 or more assists in a game.
» The Gators have won 20+ games for the 14th consecutive season. That mark is currently the longest active streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally.

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TWO BITS: SEC Tourney, Kiper’s thoughts, NCAA

1 » The four-seed Florida Gators (22-9, 10-6 SEC) learned Thursday that they will take on the five-seed Alabama Crimson Tide (21-10, 10-7 SEC) in the second round of the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday at 3:30 p.m. The game, which will air live nationally on SEC Network, is the second meeting between the two teams this season. Alabama beat South Carolina 63-57 on Thursday, giving head coach Anthony Grant his second opportunity to defeat his former boss – Florida head coach Billy Donovan – this season. Donovan is 3-0 against Grant since the latter coach took over the Crimson Tide program. More information on this game will be available in Friday’s Gameday Preview here on OGGOA.

2 » Speaking with ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. on Thursday, OGGOA was told by the NFL Draft analyst that he believes Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey raised his stock at the 2012 NFL Combine. Previously projected to be selected in the third or fourth round, Rainey may go a full round higher now, according to Kiper. “Rainey is an all-purpose guy. He’s got the big-play potential; you can utilize him in a lot of different ways,” he said. “I think he could be in that second- or third-round discussion because of the weapon he could be.” Kiper also discussed with OGGOA the future of former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was dismissed from the team over the summer and spent the 2012 season with North Alabama.

Jenkins was previously considered a somewhat unanimous mid-first-round pick, but Kiper has now dropped him to the bottom of the round and thinks he could slide into the second round if some other players make up even further ground on him. “In terms of Jenkins, you knew the off-the-field concerns were going to be there. He was going to have to answer a lot of question at the Combine,” he said. “When you put it all together, playing the one year at North Alabama, he did play at Florida and played very effectively with the Gators. There are other corners that may have jumped a little bit ahead. I still have him in the first round – barely – to New England [at No. 31 overall]. [Bill] Belichick likes Florida players; he lived in Florida the majority of his career. They need a cornerback with his skill level. Right now Stephon Gilmore [South Carolina] may have passed him by a little bit and he’s getting some competition now from Dwight Bentley from Louisiana-Lafayette, Trumaine Johnson from Montana. There are some other cornerbacks even putting pressure to be the late first-round pick. There’s some that think he’s a two. I’d put him in the late first to New England. He’s not up where he was at one point in the mid-first round area, which is where I had him a month or so ago.”

Extra BIT » Bracketologists are currently projecting that Florida will play their round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament in Nashville, TN. You can already order tickets for the three sessions at the Bridgestone Arena from PrimeSport, the NCAA’s official ticket exchange for the event. Don’t miss your chance to see all the excitement in person as PrimeSport is able to bring you face-to-face with all of the action on the court in Nashville. Tickets are available for around $63 per session and are available by clicking here.

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FOUR BITS: Grant, Manuel, Henry, OL transfer

1 » The No. 12/14 Florida Gators pulled off a 61-52 win Tuesday night against the Alabama Crimson Tide mostly due to an explosive start to the second half in which Florida scored 16-straight points. Though the Gators were without two primary reserves in the game, the Crimson Tide had two starters indefinitely suspended, a move that head coach Anthony Grant felt he had to make. As Grant and Florida head coach Billy Donovan communicated both before and after the game, suspending players is a hard decision for a coach to make but usually a smart run because the long-term health if the team is much more important than shot-term gains. The Associated Press’ Jim Litke gave Grant kudos for his decision in this column on Wednesday.

For the price of a ticket Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa, you could see something rare in college sports anymore: a coach putting his foot down. [...] Grant is doing exactly what the NCAA high-handedly promotes as its core mission – holding himself and his players accountable – but the selection committee isn’t about to cut him any slack for doing the right thing. Every loss still counts as a loss, never mind that it occurred because the coach volunteered to tie one hand behind his back. Grant gets that, too. He won’t change a thing because of it.

2 » Former Florida safety Marquand Manuel, an eight-year NFL who spent last year as an intern with the Gators, has been hired as the Seattle Seahawks’ new assistant special teams coach. A two-year starter for Seattle, Manuel also played in the Super Bowl with the Seahawks and is obviously hoping to begin his climb up the coaching ladder with this move.

3 » Former Florida forward Aneika Henry was signed to a training camp contract on Monday by the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA. Currently playing in Poland and ranking fifth in the EuroLeague in rebounding and eighth in double-doubles (averaging 13.6 points and 9.1 boards per game), Henry spent two years with the Gators and tallied 110 blocks while shooting 53.7 percent from the field. Should she be added to the squad for the regular season, Henry will be just the second former Florida player currently playing in the league, joining DeLisha Milton-Jones of the Los Angeles Sparks.

4 » As they did a year ago, the Gators are hoping that an experienced offensive lineman will decide to transfer to Florida and boost the team’s unit. In fact, UF is currently pursuing a pair of players looking to continue their careers at a different school. The Gators are one of a number of top teams going after three-star JUCO guard Fehoko Fanaika (San Mateo, CA), who visited the school recently and has also received offers from Georgia and LSU. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Florida is also interested in Maryland transfer three-star tackle Max Garcia (Norcorss, GA), who is leaving the program but restricted from transferring to any ACC school, Connecticut, Temple, Vanderbilt or West Virginia. Unlike Fanaika, Garcia would be forced to redshirt the 2012 season before joining any team in 2013. A Georgia native, it is believed that he would strongly consider playing close to home if he gets an offer from UGA.

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No. 12 Florida starts slow, powers past Alabama

Looking to rebound from consecutive losses and fight for a road victory despite being down two primary reserves, the No. 12/14 Florida Gators (20-6, 8-3 SEC) reached 20 wins for the 14th consecutive season with a 61-52 defeat of the Alabama Crimson Tide (16-9, 5-6 SEC) at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, AL on Valentine’s Day.

It was a tale of two halves for Florida and Alabama on Tuesday night.

The Gators shot just 30.8 percent from the field and 25 percent (3-of-12) from three in the first half but turned things around in the latter portion of the game, hitting 50 percent of their field goals and 33.3 percent of their treys in the second half. Conversely, the Crimson Tide shot 58.8 percent from the floor and 60 percent from beyond the arc to start but made just 28.6 percent and nine percent (1-of-11) of their attempts, respectively, in the final 20 minutes.

Both teams opened the game playing sloppily with badly missed baskets and an abundance of turnovers. However, Alabama got things under control first and used a 9-0 run (along with a 5:36 scoring drought for Florida) to take a 20-16 lead in the first half. The Gators answered by outscoring the Crimson Tide 10-6 on the way to the halftime buzzer with a three-pointer by junior forward Erik Murphy tying the contest at 26.

Florida came out of the break with an explosive scoring barrage as the Gators netted 16-straight points as part of a 19-0 run dating back to 1:34 remaining in the first half. Alabama scored just two points in the first nine minutes of the second half with the Crimson Tide starting 0-for-10 from the field.

Picking up his fourth foul with 10:18 left in the game, Florida sophomore center Patric Young was forced to take a seat even though he was leading the Gators with 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting at the time. Alabama scored four quick points and got the home crowd energized by attacking the paint, but the Crimson Tide was soon silenced by Murphy’s fourth trey of the contest.

Alabama did not get within double digits of Florida again until the final 30 seconds as the Gators maintained their energy level and gutted out a much-needed road victory.

Florida got its biggest advantage in the turnover margin, forcing 18 Alabama miscues and converting those additional possessions into 24 points. The Gators outscored the Crimson Tide 26-22 in the paint but were outscored 0-32 off the bench.

UF did, however, have 13 assists on 21 made baskets including seven from senior point guard Erving Walker, who passed Ronnie Montgomery for No. 1 all-time on Florida’s career assists list (505).

Complimenting Young’s solid game in the paint, Murphy and freshman guard Bradley Beal each scored 14 points for the Gators with the youngster adding a team-high eight rebounds and three dimes to his total. Murphy was an outstanding 4-of-8 from downtown and grabbed five boards of his own.

Guard Andrew Steele, one of two Alabama players returning from suspension on the decision of head coach Anthony Grant, led the Crimson Tide with 11 points while bringing down five rebounds and dishing three assists on the evening.

Both teams were without a pair of important players for Tuesday’s game. Florida had sophomore F Will Yeguete (concussion) and redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (hip pointer) sidelined with injures, while Alabama F JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell – the team’s top two scorers and rebounders – were out on indefinite suspension.

The Gators will look to continue their winning ways Saturday when they travel to Arkansas for their second of four road contests in the next five games. The two teams will tip off at 6 p.m. live on ESPN2.

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Florida looking to gain momentum at Alabama

Coming off a pair of tough losses to the concensus No. 1 team in the country Kentucky and an underrated Tennessee team, the newly-minted No. 12/14 Florida Gators are looking to right the ship on Tuesday when they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, AL. With both squads facing a number of questions heading into the contest, Florida head coach Billy Donovan and Alabama head coach Anthony Grant met with the media Monday to discuss their programs and the upcoming game.

INJURIES, SUSPENSIONS RAVAGING LINEUPS

The Gators and Crimson Tide will each be without two players for Tuesday’s game though their absences will occur for vastly different reasons. Florida sophomore forward Will Yeguete (concussion) and redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario (hip pointer) will miss the game with injuries, while Alabama Fs JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell are out of action due to suspension.

UF and UA will also get some players back for the showdown. Redshirt freshman F Cody Larson (illness) returns at less than 100 percent for the Gators, while the Crimson tide will welcome back Gs Trevor Releford and Andrew Steele from two more suspensions handed down by Grant.

The losses will severely hurt both teams. Florida loses their best defender and rebounder in Yeguete as well as a solid bench scorer in Rosario, and Alabama will be without their top two leaders in scoring and rebounding as the duo of Green and Mitchell average a combined 27.2 points and 14.2 boards per game.

Additionally information and thoughts from the coaches on the injuries and suspensions are available in the “notes and quotes” section at the end of this post.”

FRONTCOURT SITUATION “DIRE” FOR FLORIDA

With Yeguete injured and out indefinitely, sophomore center Patric Young regressing and junior F Erik Murphy not necessarily a true post player, Donovan agreed with a reporter’s assessment that the Gators’ backcourt is in need of major help.

“We’re going to have to do some different things both offensively and defensively,” he said. “Certainly going into Alabama without Will being there, there’s a tremendous void there for us defensively at the basket. Alabama [...] is a very big, enormous team up front. Patric certainly logged way too many minutes in the Tennessee game, he played 36. We’re going to have to look at playing smaller at certain times.

“We may have to look at playing Patric and Murphy together some, not together some. We’re probably going to have to look at moving Casey Prather a little bit more toward the power forward spot. Our presence at the basket both offensively and defensively is hurt there with Will [out of action] because I think Will has proven at least through this first part of the SEC and some of the higher level competition that we’ve played … even though he may not be 6’10”, he still is a problem out there defensively. He can hold his own around the basket.”

HISTORY AND STREAKS

» Alabama leads the all-time series against Florida 73-58 though the Gators have a 15-5 winning advantage against the Crimson Tide since Donovan took over UF’s program. Donovan is 2-0 against Grant since his former assistant took the UA job.
» All five of Florida’s normal starters are averaging double figures in scoring.
» The Gators have made 10+ three-pointers in 17 of 25 games this year, a season-high mark under Donovan.
» Florida has made a three in 676 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» The Gators are 284-38 since 1988-89 when holding opponents under 70 points.
» Florida is one victory away from winning 20+ games for the 14th consecutive season, which is currently the longest active streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally.

WALKER CLIMBING UP ALL-TIME LISTS

Senior point guard Erving Walker is steadily making his way up a number of Florida’s career lists. Below are some of the marks he is about to pass in UF’s record books.

» Assists: Walker (498) can move into No. 1 all-time with six dimes, passing Ronnie Montgomery (503).
» Minutes: Walker (3,966) moved into No. 2 all-time in time on the court, passing Chandler Parsons (3,964) on Saturday.
» Three-pointers made: Walker (265) can move into No. 3 all-time with three treys, passing Anthony Roberson (267).
» Scoring: Walker (1,629) can move into No. 4 all-time with 49 points, passing Stacey Poole (1,678).
» Free throws made: Walker (400) can move into No. 7 all-time with 12 makes from the charity stripe, passing Dan Cross (411).
» Free throws attempted: Walker (507) can move into No. 9 all-time with eight foul shots, passing David Lee (514).
» Walker is near the top 10 all-time in games started (three away) and steals (six away).

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan does not know when Yeguete will be back and cautioned that he could be out for a while after only passing two of five required concussion tests as conducted by team doctors. “I’m concerned enough,” he said of Yeguete’s second concussion (Ohio State) this season. “There’s protocol that the trainer and the medical staff have to go through as it relates to conclusions. [...] The concussion issues right now because of football have been addressed at certainly a very heightened level. There is this protocol we have to go through regardless of how Will is feeling. [...] I don’t think he’s having any symptoms where he’s sick or dizzy all the time. He feels OK, but he’s not passing these tests. [...] He’s way off from there right now. He’s way off. Will’s a tough kid. If it was up to him, he would probably want to go play, but we can’t risk his health and those things.”

» The single Florida player likely to benefit the most from Yeguete’s absence is Prather, who will see much more time on the court. Donovan badly wants for Prather to succeed but believes some of his failings are from over thinking and not just going out and playing basketball. “He has never ever once – and I’ve got unbelievable respect for him – he’s never had a bad attitude,” he said. “He comes to practice every day and works. He puts extra time in. he deserves to play well. He’s another guy where he wants to do so well so bad that sometimes he can go in with preconceived notions of how he’s going to play. [...] He’s got to go in and play the game and read what’s going on. He’s got to get better at reading situations and not getting so bogged down mentally at wanting to do so well.”

» Grant is supremely disappointed in his players and believes he should not have to deal with behavioral issues like the ones he suspended them for (but would not disclose) at this point in their careers. However, he takes full responsibility for their failings and hopes his team can use these mistakes as a learning experience going forward. “The main thing right now is for our guys to understand the importance of making good decisions and understanding the consequences when you make poor decisions and then moving on and growing from there and learning from that,” he said. “I’m the leader. It’s my team. I certainly feel like I’ve got responsibility to them as individuals, to their families, to our program, to this university. Obviously it’s difficult when you have to call your bosses and let them know the situation like that and obviously the impact that has on the image of our program and the image of this university. That’s my responsibility as a coach to make sure those things are limited or prevented as much as possible.”

» Donovan understands what Grant is going through and fully supports his friend and colleague with the idea that sometimes tough decisions and sacrifices have to be made in the short term for major long term gains to occur. “The one thing I do know is I know Anthony Grant about as well as anybody. He is a guy that has got incredible integrity and character and knows exactly the way he wants his program run, what he’s going to do,” he said. “I really believe that in order to win big you got to be prepared to lose big. Anthony’s attitude is that he’s not going to be the kind for guy who is going to plug holes in a leaking ship. He’s not going to plug it because eventually that stuff – at some point – is going to rear its head and it’s going to bite you at some point. There’s a certain way Anthony wants to go about his team playing, what they want to do every single day in practice, how they want to conduct themselves. The easiest thing I think a lot of times in coaching is to look the other way. But I don’t think your team can fully maximize its fullest potential until you as a coach are prepared to lose big. By Anthony doing that, I think he showed his team that he’s prepared to lose big because he wants to win big and there’s a certain way you have to go about winning big and these things that are going on are not going to help us win big.”

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Brent Pease hired as Florida Gators offensive coordinator, move to be announced Wednesday

Boise State Broncos offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Brent Pease has been hired and will officially be named to the same position with the Florida Gators on Wednesday, according to reports published Tuesday by ESPN and The Gainesville Sun.

Pease, who OGGOA first reported was in Gainesville, FL last Friday meeting with head coach Will Muschamp and University of Florida administration about the vacant position on the coaching staff, stayed in town over the weekend but was expected to meet with Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban about his team’s offensive coordinator job on Tuesday following his team’s participation in the BCS title game. Pease wound up cancelling that interview, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Sources told OGGOA Thursday evening that all indications pointed to Pease being named the Gators’ next offensive coordinator last Friday. He and his wife flew into Orlando, FL in the afternoon and were driven up to Gainesville to accept the job offer, but his hesitation in accepting and wanting to first speak with Saban derailed that plan.

The AP further reports that the terms of Pease’s initial contract with UF are for three years at approximately $500,000 annually.

A member of Boise State’s staff since 2006, Pease has served as the team’s wide receivers coach (2006-10), assistant head coach (2007-10) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2011). Prior to his stint with BSU, he was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Baylor (2003-05), Kentucky (2001-02), Northern Arizona (1999-2000) and Montana (1996-98).

In his one year as offensive coordinator, Pease’s Broncos finished ninth in total offense (481.3 yards), fifth in scoring offense (44.2 points), 40th in rushing offense (171.9 yards) and 11th in passing offense (309.4 yards)

He will join a Florida team looking to improve its offense in a major way. The Gators were ranked No. 105 in total offense at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season, gaining just 328.7 yards per game. Florida was 71st nationally in scoring offense (25.5 points), 73rd in rushing offense (143.0 yards) and 89th in passing offense (185.7 yards).

Pease was hired to be offensive coordinator at Indiana for the 2011 season but wound up heading back to the Broncos two weeks later when head coach Chris Petersen offered him a promotion after a vacancy was created when Bryan Harsin left for Texas.

Pease and Muschamp crossed paths in 2001 and 2002 when the former was with Kentucky and the latter with LSU. Muschamp’s team was victorious in both games but just barely, beating UK 29-25 in 2001 and 33-30 in 2002. The second victory is known as the “Bluegrass Miracle” in which LSU, the road team, tossed a 74-yard game-winning touchdown with no time remaining on the clock.

A former starting quarterback at Montana (1985-86), Pease spent four years toiling around the NFL but only officially made the Houston Oilers’ roster (1987-88). He also played for two teams in the World League of American Football (1991-92) as well as for the Arena Football League’s Cincinnati Rockers (1993).

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Florida targets Pease as offensive coordinator

Boise State Broncos offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Brent Pease was in Gainesville, FL on Friday meeting with Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and University of Florida administration about the vacant position on the coaching staff.

Pease, who ESPN reported Thursday afternoon is also being pursued by the Alabama Crimson Tide and head coach Nick Saban, was expected by Florida officials to accept the job Friday but instead informed them that he had planned to meet with Saban on Tuesday following the BCS title game.

Sources told OGGOA Thursday evening that all indications pointed to Pease being named the Gators’ next offensive coordinator on Friday. He and his wife flew into Orlando, FL Friday afternoon and were driven up to Gainesville to accept the job offer, but his decision to first speak with Saban next week derailed that plan.

The Gainesville Sun notes that “Muschamp may have the advantage because he moved on Pease first, shortly after Charlie Weis left to take the Kansas job on Dec. 9. Saban lost his offensive coordinator, Jim McElwain, five days later to Colorado State.”

A member of Boise State’s staff since 2006, Pease has served as the team’s wide receivers coach (2006-10), assistant head coach (2007-10) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2011). Prior to his stint with Boise State, he was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Baylor (2003-05), Kentucky (2001-02), Northern Arizona (1999-2000) and Montana (1996-98).

Pease was hired to be offensive coordinator at Indiana for the 2011 season but wound up heading back to the Broncos two weeks later when head coach Chris Petersen offered him a promotion after a vacancy was created when Bryan Harsin left for Texas.

Pease and Muschamp crossed paths in 2001 and 2002 when the former was with Kentucky and the latter with LSU. Muschamp’s team was victorious in both games but just barely, beating UK 29-25 in 2001 and 33-30 in 2002. The second victory is known as the “Bluegrass Miracle” in which LSU, the road team, tossed a 74-yard game-winning touchdown with no time remaining on the clock.

A former starting quarterback at Montana (1985-86), Pease spent four years toiling around the NFL but only officially made the Houston Oilers’ roster (1987-88). He also played for two teams in the World League of American Football (1991-92) as well as for the Arena Football League’s Cincinnati Rockers (1993).

It is plausible that Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley makes Pease a take-it-or-leave-it offer on Friday, not wanting the Gators’ interest in the coach to be used as leverage for a deal with the Crimson Tide.

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Replacing Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator

With the surprise resignation of Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who decided to take the head coaching job with the Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday, still the big news of the day, one of the major questions arising is a simple one: Who will replace him? OGGOA has complied a list of candidates who could replace Weis:

Kerwin Bell
Head Coach – Jacksonville Dolphins

Hire him: Bell is almost everything Florida is looking for in an offensive coordinator. He’s talented, runs a pro-style offense at Jacksonville, has professional experience as a player (four years in the NFL, four in the CFL) and coach (two years as offensive coordinator of the Toronto Argonauts) and is a Florida alumnus who was a quarterback on the Gators football team from 1983-87. His JU team features a strong down-field passing game but is also balanced with a solid running attack. Bell told The Gainesville Sun directly that he would be interested in returning to Florida, and a source close to him told OGGOA Thursday evening that he would listen to any offer head coach Will Muschamp might have for him. With orange and blue coursing through his veins, Bell would be loyal to the program and would have no designs on leaving anytime soon.

Hold up: Despite his success both with Toronto (2000-01) and Jacksonville (2007-present), Bell is relatively inexperienced as a college football coach. He spent six years as the top man at Trinity Catholic High School between the two jobs and is currently a coach in the FCS, which is a far cry from the SEC. Weis had total control over Florida’s offense, and it remains to be seen if Muschamp (inexperienced in his own right as a head coach) would be comfortable giving Bell that same power.

Brian White
Running Backs Coach – Florida Gators

Hire him: One of the most experienced coaches currently on staff, White has been an offensive coordinator before during his time at Wisconsin and has been a part of two national championship teams. He is one of the Gators’ best recruiters and is multiple on offense, already proving his ability to coach up running backs and tight ends at Florida. (He also coached quarterbacks and wide receivers at UNLV.) White is well-known and trusted by the players considering he is one of two holdovers remaining from Urban Meyer’s regime and has been with the team since 2009. He could be the safest move in terms of continuity, especially in recruiting where he has excelled during his time at UF.

Hold up: Though he has served previously as both an offensive coordinator and passing game coordinator, White has not called plays since 2007. He will have what may be considered a tryout at the 2012 Gator Bowl, where he will temporarily take over for Weis as Muschamp looks to make a permanent decision on a future offensive coordinator. White is also not the “sexiest” candidate – he has absolutely no NFL coaching experience, something that Muschamp appeared to lean on with his first staff.

Bell and White individually may each be capable of running the Gators’ offense, but hiring co-offensive coordinators is not out of the realm of possibility for Muschamp. Bell (quarterbacks) and White (running backs) each specialize in a different area of the offense and could serve as passing game coordinator and running game coordinator, respectively. Florida had co-defensive coordinators under Meyer with Greg Mattison and Charlie Strong, and the defense was the backbone of the team while both were on staff. Expect Muschamp to give this idea serious consideration as Bell would love to return to the Gators but would likely want more than a “quarterbacks coach” title and White will feel he is deserving of additional responsibilities (and money) considering his work ethic and experience.

Al Borges
Offensive Coordinator – Michigan Wolverines

Hire him: Currently helping turn around Michigan, Borges has served as a college offensive coordinator for 25 years, getting his start back in 1986. He spent four years with Auburn (2004-07), crossing paths with Muschamp during his final two years with the team. When you talk about experience – Borges has it – and his pro-style offense has proven that it can be tailored to utilize speed and quickness.

Hold up: Another candidate without professional experience, Borges’s resume should be enough to overcome that. However, he just took the Wolverines job this year and – considering that offense is on the upswing – probably won’t be too inclined to change jobs after one year. Although he has been an offensive coordinator for a quarter century, he has done it at nine different stops and spent two years or less at five of them, only staying at Portland State, UCLA and Auburn long-term.

Stan Hixon
Wide Receivers Coach – Buffalo Bills

Hire him: He has never served as an offensive coordinator, but it might be time for the 54-year-old to take a step up to the next level. With coaching experience on both levels (14 years in college, 13 in the NFL), Hixon moves on at will and picks his poison. He worked at LSU for four years (three alongside Muschamp) and has plenty of experience both coaching in the SEC and recruiting top-tier players. He left that job to take one with the Washington Redskins, where he stuck for seven years, and has spent the last two coaching pass catchers with the Buffalo Bills (under head coach Chain Gailey – former UF player and GA). Hixon was born in Lakeland, FL and could see Florida as a great opportunity. He is well-known for getting the most out of unknown players and helping them reach their full potential.

Hold up: Hixon has never been an offensive coordinator. He hasn’t called plays for any extensive period of time and has not coached in college in nearly a decade. Some position coaches remain such for a reason, and Hixon may have turned down offensive coordinator opportunities in the past in order to concentrate on the job he does best.

Bobby Williams
Tight Ends/Special Teams Coach – Alabama Crimson Tide

Hire him: Another coach with a history alongside Muschamp (at LSU and the Miami Dolphins), Williams has served under Nick Saban for seven years coaching wide receivers, running backs and tight ends. He was a head coach for three years at Michigan State (beat Florida 37-34 in the 2000 Citrus Bowl) and has extensive SEC recruiting experience. Williams’s versatility is a major plus.

Hold up: Like Hixon, Williams has never been an offensive coordinator and play caller, but his time as a head coach adds another level of experience. His loyalty to Saban is obvious and many believe the chances of him leaving his side are not good.

Paul Chryst
Offensive Coordinator – Wisconsin Badgers

Hire him: Considered one of the best offensive coordinators in the game right now, Chryst would be a huge hire for Muschamp and the Gators. He’s had immense success with Wisconsin and would do great as the “head coach of the offense” with total control over the unit.

Hold up: Chryst has been a candidate for head coaching jobs and may be unlikely to move from Wisconsin unless it is to run his own program. Florida is undoubtedly a step up but probably not enough of a difference for him to move across the country. A year or two of immense success with the Gators could springboard him to a top job, but he is doing fine up north and may be able to pick his spot sooner than later staying put.

Scott Linehan, Brian Schottenheimer, Mike Mularkey
Offensive Coordinators – NFL

Breakdown: Linehan, Scottenheimer and Mularkey all have connections to the program but each has his own reason for not giving much thought to the Florida job. Linehan, who was offensive coordinator under Saban with the Dolphins while Muschamp was there, is leading a burgeoning unit with the Detroit Lions and is unlikely to leave a secure job and take a cut in pay unless he really wants to get back into the college game. Mularkey, a former Gators tight end, has never coached at the college level and is closer to a NFL head coaching job as current offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons than he is to leaving the team and going to Florida. Schottenheimer, currently the New York Jets’ offensive coordinator, was a backup quarterback under Steve Spurrier at UF but also has no college coaching or recruiting experience. He would be the most likely out of the three to have any interest in the job considering he is heavily criticized as Jets’ offensive coordinator and could be on the outs up in New York.

Steve Spurrier, Jr.
Wide Receivers Coach – South Carolina Gamecocks

Hire him: Spurrier, Jr. has been a WR coach at Oklahoma and Arizona and spent time working under his father at Florida, with the Redskins and now at South Carolina. He played college football at Duke and got his master’s degree at UF. He may feel it is finally time to step out of his father’s shadow and up into an offensive coordinator job, and returning home could be especially sweet for him.

Hold up: According to a number of people – including his father – Spurrier Jr. is not ready to be an offensive coordinator. He’s had opportunities to call plays and lead the offense at USC only to have his father demote him back to WR coach and call the plays himself. He probably won’t be a legitimate candidate, but you never know.

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