Gators release contracts for new 2012 coaches

In his second year at the helm of the Florida Gators, head coach Will Muschamp was forced to hire two new position coaches and find a new director of strength and conditioning as adjustments were made to the coaching staff following the 2011 season.

According to information released by Florida on Friday, offensive coordinator Brent Pease signed a three-year, $1.77 million contract with the Gators that pays him $490,000 per season along with a $100,000 signing bonus and a pair of $100,000 longevity bonuses following the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Comparatively, the contract Charlie Weis signed in 2011 was for three years and $2.625 million; it had made him the highest-paid assistant in school history.

It was also announced that offensive line coach Tim Davis signed a standard one-year, $275,000 contract and director of strength and conditioning Jeff Dillman was added to the staff on a two-year deal paying him $215,000 annually.

A look at the coaching staff’s 2012 salaries compared with their counterparts in 2011:

2012 Coach2012 Salary2011 Coach2011 Salary
Will Muschamp
Head Coach
$2.75M
(5 years)
Will Muschamp
Head Coach
$2.75M
(5 years)
Brent Pease
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
$490K
(3 years)
Charlie Weis
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
$765K
(3 years)
Dan Quinn
Defensive Coordinator / DL
$510K
(2 years)
Dan Quinn
Defensive Coordinator / DL
$490K
(2 years)
D.J. Durkin
Linebackers / Special Teams
$340K
(2 years)
D.J. Durkin
Linebackers / Special Teams
$265K
(1 year)
Brian White
Running Backs
$290K
(1 year)
Brian White
Running Backs
$240K
(1 year)
Tim Davis
Offensive Line
$275K
(1 year)
Frank Verducci
Offensive Line
$290K
(2 years)
Aubrey Hill
Wide Receivers / Recruiting
$230K
(1 year)
Aubrey Hill
Wide Receivers / Recruiting
$230K
(1 year)
Travaris Robinson
Defensive backs
$230K
(1 year)
Travaris Robinson
Defensive backs
$230K
(1 year)
Bryant Young
Asst. Defensive Line
$230K
(1 year left)
Bryant Young
Asst. Defensive Line
$230K
(2 years)
Derek Lewis
Tight Ends
$190K
(1 year)
Derek Lewis
Tight Ends
$190K
(1 year)
Jeff DIllman
Strength & Conditioning
$215K
(2 years)
Mickey Marotti
Strength & Conditioning
$240K
(unknown)
* Quinn and Young are in the second year of two-year contracts signed in 2011.
* Florida signs most assistant coaches to one-year renewable contracts.

Universal contract notes and bonuses:
– All coaches receive a $10,000 bonus from Florida’s contract with Nike
– All coaches receive use of a car and other tangible incentives
– BCS National Championship Game appearance – up to 30 percent increase
– Other BCS bowl game appearance – 20 percent increase
– SEC Championship Game appearance – 10 percent increase
– Non-BCS bowl game – 10 percent increase
– Bowl game with less than $2 million payout – one month’s salary increase

Media outlets obtained the above salary information via an open records request.

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Gators pick up option on Muschamp through 2016

Head coach Will Muschamp has received a one-year extension from the Florida Gators and is now under contract with the school through 2016.

Sporting News’s Matt Hayes, who first reported the move Friday afternoon, said Muschamp’s one-year extension does not come with an increase in salary and that his original five-year, $13.75 million contract is now a six-year deal worth $16.5 million.

“Coach Muschamp’s original contract was for five years with an option year,” Florida spokesperson Steve McClain said in a statement after the report was released. “The [University Athletic Association] exercised that option year in January and he now has five years remaining on his current contract.”

In his first year at the helm of the Gators’ program, Muschamp led Florida to a 7-6 record, capping off a .500 regular season with a 24-17 victory over Ohio State in the 2012 Gator Bowl on Jan. 2.

He recently corralled the No. 3 recruiting class in the country, according to Rivals.com, and already has 10 high school football player committed to the Gators for 2013.

Muschamp’s first year with Florida was not without plenty of ups and downs. The Gators’ transition to a pro-style offense was a rocky one. However, UF’s defense was ranked No. 8 nationally at season’s end and showed plenty of promise heading into 2012.

He made a splash before the season began by hiring Charlie Weis to run Florida’s offense, but the unit did not produce as many expected and Weis ended up leaving to take the head coaching job at Kansas. Muschamp rebounded by hiring Boise State offensive coordinator Brent Pease, a highly-regarded coach who was also coveted by Alabama head coach Nick Saban, in January.

The Gators also lost director of strength and conditioning Mickey Marotti when former Florida head coach Urban Meyer took the Ohio State job, but Muschamp rebounded again and secured the services of Jeff Dillman, the (now former) head of physical conditioning for the IMG Performance Institute.

Muschamp’s first 13 months have also been punctuated with 10 player arrests including eight for either underage drinking or marijuana possession, one for driving with a suspended license and restating arrest, and one for misdemeanor domestic assault. Three of the nine players arrested are no longer with the Gators’ football program.

Details of Muschamp’s contract as released on May 5, 2011.

Photo Credit: Erica Brough/Gainesville Sun

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Stefon Diggs spurns Florida, commits to Maryland

Many believed the Florida Gators failed to close the 2012 recruiting cycle strong by not securing an uncommitted prospect on National Signing Day, but the potential to add a five-star player a position of need remained a strong possibility heading into Friday evening. Unfortunately for Florida, wide receiver Stefon Diggs (Olney, MD) announced that he would not be travelling down to Gainesville, FL to play college football and would instead stay in his home state and play for the Maryland Terrapins next fall.

Having narrowed his choices down to Maryland, Auburn, Florida and Ohio State, Diggs decided to hold off on making his destination known on National Signing Day (Feb. 1) in order to see more campuses and allow himself additional time to consider his options.

He took an official visit to OSU two weeks ago and checked out his hometown school last weekend before sitting down with his friends and family to make a final decision.

The Gators were happy to wait for his answer, knowing that landing a player of Diggs’s caliber at a position of need was of paramount importance, especially seeing as the team had already lost five-star WR Nelson Agholor (Tampa, FL) to USC.

The No. 8 player in the nation and second-best at his position according to Rivals.com, Diggs possesses a great combination of size and speed and would have been the third wide receiver in UF’s 2012 recruiting class.

Florida already has four-star Latroy Pittman (Citra, FL) and three-star Raphael Andrades (Tallahassee, FL) committed for 2012, though the former may be moved to the secondary and the latter is a candidate to redshirt his freshman season.

The Gators, in dire need of a game-breaking pass catcher, chose to focus their efforts on Diggs and Agholor rather than continuing to also press wide receivers like four-stars JUCO transfer Courtney Gardner (Roseville, CA) and Avery Johnson (Pompano Beach, FL) for a commitment. Either could have been a nice addition to Florida’s class, but they are instead headed to Oklahoma and LSU, respectively.

Diggs jumped onto the scene for the Gators during the 2011 Friday Night Lights camp in Gainesville. He impressed Florida’s coaches his fellow participants with his great play, and he immediately became a target for offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.

When Weis left the team after the regular season, UF lost ground with Diggs, but new coordinator Brent Pease picked up the slack and promised the recruit that the Gators would continue to run a pro-style offense that would best utilize his talents.

In the end Florida’s pitch was simply not enough to pull him out of his home state, where he will have the opportunity to play good friend four-star running back Wes Brown (Olney, MD) as well as a number of other players he has known throughout his life.

The Gators are close to shutting the doors on recruiting in 2012 with 23 commitments including 14 on defense, eight on offense and one on special teams. Florida, however, is still in play for three-star JUCO offensive lineman Fehoko Fanaika (San Mateo, CA). UF addressed their issues on both lines of scrimmage but failed to land the caliber and number of offensive playmakers they desperately needed heading into next season.

Chomp Away: Do you think the Gators failed to close out the 2012 recruiting cycle properly or was Florida’s inability to secure late commitments simply a string of bad luck? Provide your thoughts and discuss this latest development in the comments section.

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C/G Dan Wenger: “I’m so thankful for…Muschamp”

It has been a long ride through college for center/guard Dan Wenger, who spent five years with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish before receiving a waiver to spend his sixth year of college playing football for the Florida Gators.

His sights now set on the NFL, Wenger sat down with me for a pair of interviews before and after he participated in the Battle or Florida showcase in Boca Raton, FL. We discussed his time playing for Florida, his thoughts about the Gators program and what he hopes to accomplish in the future.

Check out Part One of my interview with Dan Wenger.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Going into the bowl game there appeared to be two main motivations for the team: finishing the season above .500 and sticking it to Urban Meyer. Some guys were a bit vocal about this to the media but for the most part it was kind of it in the background. Which motivation do you think fueled the team more – avoiding the losing season or showing Meyer that Florida was still the better team?
DAN WENGER: “For me that whole Urban Meyer thing wasn’t an issue. I know guys that were upset about the situation and wanted to kind of prove their point – whether it be that they didn’t want Urban to leave or they had something against him for leaving. Whatever the case may be that was never an issue for me. It was one of those things that’s talked about in the locker room but it was a conversation I didn’t get involved in. I had no experience playing under him. He recruited me but at the same time I didn’t spend five years at Florida before Coach Muschamp came in. That was not even a thought in my head. As far as the whole losing season, I’ve been 6-6 going into a bowl game at Notre Dame – once we went to a bowl game and won and the other time we didn’t go to a bowl game. There’s something about going into a bowl game and winning and coming out at that 7-6 and ending with a winning season. That sparks the fire again and the drive and the energy to be better and work harder going into the offseason. When we were 6-6 at Notre Dame in 2009, we didn’t go to a bowl game. Staying stagnant at 6-6, knowing that we couldn’t do anything else about it was terrible. We felt deflated. It was only the second time I had a full winter break. It was something I wasn’t used to and I didn’t know what to do with myself with that time. I was used to watching film and getting ready to prepare and fight that fight one more time. To me, it’s very important and I think that was mostly my motivation going into that game against Ohio State. To come out on top and more than anything I wanted to do whatever I could to help the other guys be ready and prepare them for the game.”

AS: Well I know it wasn’t a motivation for you, but Meyer taking the Ohio State job before that bowl game had to be on the mind of a lot of the other players. Was it something they just brought up here and there or was it a topic that you heard plenty about and thought was a real motivator for the other players?
DW: “You could say there was all of that going on. It was on everyone’s mind. Guys wanted to see if he was going to be there or on the sideline. It was very evident that it was going on in the locker room, all of that talk. A lot of those guys just had a point to prove. That’s fine. Everyone is motivated by different things. Whatever gets you going and gets you ready to give your best effort in a game, by all means use it. It might not be what motivates me, but hell, if it motivates you then let’s go into this game together both highly motivated and play to the best of our abilities.”

Read the rest of Part Two – for FREE – on InsideTheGators.com.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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C/G Dan Wenger: “I loved my time at Florida.”

It has been a long ride through college for center/guard Dan Wenger, who spent five years with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish before receiving a waiver to spend his sixth year of college playing football for the Florida Gators.

Wenger, who suffered a pair of concussions that forced him to miss what would have been his redshirt senior season and was not cleared to play for Notre Dame this past year, was cleared by Florida doctors and joined former coaches Charlie Weis and Frank Verducci on the Gators.

With Florida badly in need of healthy bodies on the offensive line and both Weis and Verducci vouching for him after his concussion tests came back clean, head coach Will Muschamp granted Wenger a spot on the Gators for 2011.

He wound up starting 11 of 13 games for Florida (including 10 at left guard and one at center) while also serving as a mentor and leader for a young unit trying to learn Weis’s complicated pro-style offense.

His sights now set on the NFL, Wenger sat down with me for a pair of interviews before and after he participated in the Battle or Florida showcase in Boca Raton, FL. We discussed his time playing for Florida, his thoughts about the Gators program and what he hopes to accomplish in the future.

ADAM SILVERSTIEN: The way you came into the program was unique. Not only did you join a very young unit, but you happened to be the most experienced player based on the years you spent in the system at Notre Dame. As it turned out, your teammates looked to you in many ways as a leader and a teacher even though you were one of the team’s newest players. How strange was that situation for you?
DAN WENGER: “Yeah. It wasn’t necessarily uncomfortable, but it was something that I didn’t expect. I didn’t expect the guys would respond so well to me. The reason for that is you see guys transfer most of the time and for a lot of guys it’s a tough transition, whether it be guys on the team worried about this new kid taking their position or just not fitting into the new environment and trying to figure out how everything goes. I kind of thought that’s how it was going to be when I got there. Surprisingly enough it wasn’t; the guys responded well. As we did our player practices in the summer, I definitely saw kind of the lack of knowledge, the lack of understanding of what we were going to do with the new offense. Being my last go-around, I bought into everything and said whatever happens, that’s what my role is going to be. I’m going to do my best, starter or scout team, to help these guys understand this so we’re all on the same page to help us be as good as we possibly can be. Those guys responded great to it. I helped with film in the summer and explaining stuff in practice like some of the drills. I did whatever I could so these guys had a really good comfort level going into the season so we weren’t picking up any slack and actually made progress from where they had left off in the spring. That was my whole goal of trying to come in and teach and be a little bit of a coach to those kids.”

AS: For someone stepping into the program for a relatively short period of time who has worked with other head coaches and “been around the block” so to speak, what did you think of Muschamp’s style, the way he ran things in his first season and what he’s trying to do at Florida?
DW: “In my honest opinion, I couldn’t have been happier to have played for a head coach like Coach Muschamp. He was exactly what I want in a head coach. He’s a blue collar guy. He’s hard-nosed. He expects a lot out of his players, expects us to work hard. There’s a genuine caring for his players. You can tell that. It was just an awesome experience to play for him. In all honesty, I loved my time at Florida. I loved playing for Coach Muschamp and being a part of the Florida Gators. It was probably one of the best things – if not the best thing – that could have happened to me in my college experience.”

Read the rest of this interview – for FREE – on InsideTheGators.com.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Gators in the market for another young QB?

The Florida Gators may have three quarterbacks already on their 2012 roster, but new offensive coordinator Brent Pease is in search of one more to add to the fold.

In addition to soon-to-be sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel, both of whom will compete for the starting job beginning in spring practice, and redshirt sophomore backup Tyler Murphy, Florida has reached out to a pair of 2012 signal callers who may be interested in joining to the program this year.

Continue Reading » Gators in the market for another young QB?

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Gator Bites for Thursday, January 12th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» In a poll conducted by ESPN and calculated monthly, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow topped the December list as the United States’ favorite athlete. Tebow is “just the sixth different athlete to finish No. 1 in the monthly rankings since 2007” and, in the 18 years of the poll, only 11 different athletes have ever held that distinction.

» In addition to the Top 10 list OGGOA posted Wednesday from CBS’s the Late Show with David Letterman, Tebow was also brought up on TBS’s Conan. Host Conan O’Brien, claiming he was absent the budget to air actual game footage, had his staff put together a recreation of his game-winning play from Sunday…with peanuts replacing the players.

Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Thursday, January 12th

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Getting to know new Florida OC Brent Pease

Who is Brent Pease and how will he fit as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the Florida Gators? While the second part remains to be seen, OGGOA attempted to get you some answers to the first question and four others by checking in with beat writer Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman, who has been covering the Boise State Broncos throughout Pease’s entire tenure on staff.

QUESTION: What kind of coach do you perceive Pease to be in terms of his manner on the field and the way in which he interacts with his players?
CHADD CRIPE: “The best I can tell he’s got a very good relationship with the players. He’s a fiery guy, particularly when he was the wide receivers coach. It’s pretty famous around here that he got into it pretty good with Titus Young on the sideline at Hawai’i when Titus [Young] had decided to fly the hang loose sign when he scored touchdowns that day. I think he did it two or three times, and the last time he got a penalty for it, so the coaches were not happy.

“He definitely has a fiery side to him. My understanding of the relationship with the players is that they have appreciated what he has done for them in terms of what he has taught them and the way he’s pushed them. I actually talked to Titus the other day and he mentioned sort of how Pease helped him get where he is. You look at the players he’s coached and the results they’ve gotten. He’s coached some of the best wide receivers in the history of Boise State and gotten their best years out of them. With Kellen [Moore] this year, he got Kellen’s best season out of him. The results are very good.”

Background: Pease has coached and developed four of the best wide receivers in school history including Young, Austin Pettis, Jeremy Childs and BSU single-season touchdown record holder Tyler Shoemaker (16, 2011).

Continue Reading » Getting to know new Florida OC Brent Pease

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