4 BITS: Tebow, Starks, Schottenheimer, Speights

1 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow set a number of football records on Sunday, but he also wound up making headlines in some off-the-field statistics, too. According to the Sports Business Journal, the Denver-Pittsburgh games registered a 25.9 overnight rating for CBS, which slates it as the largest-viewed AFC Wild Card game since 1988. Additionally, the final quarter-hour of the game (8-8:15 p.m.) pulled in a whopping 31.6 overnight rating. Tebow also made history on Twitter, setting a new sports tweets-per-second record with 9,420. CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell points out that Tebow’s tweets-per-second on Sunday shattered the previous sports record, which had the 2011 Women’s World Cup final game at 7,196 tweets/second. Other comparisons Rovell provided were Steve Jobs’s death (6,049 t/s), the Osama Bin Laden raid (5,106 t/s) and last year’s Super Bowl (4,064 t/s).

2 » Another happening from Sunday night’s game, albeit an unfortunate one, is that the injury to Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Max Starks knee appears to be a bad one. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Starks has an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament that is believed to be a tear. If he did indeed suffer a torn ACL, Starks will begin the 2012 season like he did this year – unemployed – and will have to try and work his way onto a NFL roster as he begins to heal. Starks was a free agent heading into the 2011 season but was signed by the Steelers as the team’s offensive line became decimated with injuries. Center Maurkice Pouncey, who was named to his second Pro Bowl this year and earned his first Associated Press All-Pro honor, missed Sunday’s game with a high-ankle sprain.

3 » Before NFL action began Sunday, a tweet from ESPN insider Adam Schefter got some Gators fans buzzing: “Brian Schottenheimer never withdrew his name from consideration for the Florida OC job.” Schottenheimer, the current offensive coordinator of the New York Jets, was previously thrown around as a name to consider for UF’s opening. However, the New York Daily News reported last week that he had withdrawn his name from consideration and was not a possibility for Florida. At the time there were no reports that the school had even reached out to him as a potential candidate. A former backup quarterback for Danny Wuerffel with the Gators under head coach Steve Spurrier, Schottenheimer has very little college coaching and recruiting experience (1999-2000). He has worked mostly as a NFL coach since 1997 and has been a quarterbacks coach since 2011, holding the role of offensive coordinator for New York since 2006.

4 » Maybe playing time really will do new Memphis Grizzlies center Marreese Speights well. Traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to Memphis on Jan. 4, Speights saw six minutes of action in his second game with his new team. However, the Grizzlies put Speights in for 29 minutes on Sunday and he responded with 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. It remains to be seen how Speights will perform the rest of the season, but he said last year that consistent minutes are what he needs to take his game to the next level.

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Top 11 for 2011: Off the Field Stories of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2011 (check out Saturday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From former players ending their accomplished careers to coaches and current players being part of some of the biggest news stories this year, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2011. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 11 Off the Field Stories of the Year.

11 » LEGAL ISSUES/EMBARRASSMENTS HANG OVER PROGRAM
Like 2009 and 2010, Florida could not escape its share of unfortunate arrests and embarrassing incidents in 2011. It started simply enough early in February when a pair of Gators swimmers – Lily Ramirez and Daniela Victoria – were arrested and indefinitely suspended from the team after being accused of shoplifting from Nordstrom at the Orlando Mall. Next up was Florida senior outfielder Bryson Smith, who was picked up on March 13 for driving under the influence. Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy was arrested in Gainesville, FL three weeks later and charged with a trio of misdemeanors for failing to obey a police officer, possession of a drug (Viagra) without a valid prescription and resisting arrest without violence. The month of April was a tough one for the basketball team. Forwards Erik Murphy and Cody Larson were arrested in St. Augustine, FL and charged with third-degree felony burglary charges after allegedly breaking into a car, and team manager Josh Adel was also arrested for principal to burglary for allegedly serving as a lookout. Charges against the players were eventually reduced and each settled their respective case, while Adel had all charges against him dropped. Additionally, former Florida F Dan Wener was charged with a DUI even though he blew below the legal limit (0.08) on the Breathalyzer twice. The State Attorney’s Office eventually dropped his charges due to insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction.

Unfortunately the year of brushes with the law was just getting started for the Gators. It surfaced on April 24 via a news report that both linebacker Chris Martin and defensive end Kendric Johnson were cited with misdemeanors for possessing approximately two grams of marijuana each in their respective vehicles on separate occasions. Former Florida WR Reche Caldwell was arrested one month later for possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license. Gators runner Andries Dumisane Hlaselo had the darkest arrest of the year, being picked up in June after being accused of rape and sexual assault. He was immediately dismissed from the team. The Florida football team had the remainder of the year’s arrests. Sophomore safety Matt Elam was cited for underage drinking for the second time in as many years in July, and an August report noted that freshman defensive back De’Ante Saunders was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in May. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finely was arrested on Sept. 13 on a first-degree misdemeanor for driving a scooter with a suspended license as well as a third-degree felony for resisting arrest without violence, and freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson was served with a written arrest for underage drinking just one day later. Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley had the last brush with the law of 2011 as he was accused of attacking a former Alabama player early in October but was cleared of the charges one month later. All-in-all, for every positive thing accomplished by the Gators in 2011, there always seemed to be something negative about the program just around the corner.

10 » SIX BECOME A PART OF THE GATOR NATION IN THE SKY; THREE SUFFER SERIOUS MEDICAL ISSUES DURING THE YEAR
It would be difficult to recount everything that Gator Nation has gone through in 2011 without remembering those close to the University of Florida who left us for a better place or suffered through serious medical issues in the past year. Young and old, these Gators departed too soon or had plenty to deal with as the year went on. Jimmy Carnes (76), a former Gators track and field coach, passed away in March after losing a four-year battle with prostate cancer. Former linebacker/safety and three-time Super Bowl winner Godfrey Myles (42) suffered a massive heart attack in June and, while in the hospital on life support, had a stroke that took his life. Former punter and 12-year NFL veteran Don Chandler (76) also lost a long battle with cancer in August. Mike Heimerdinger (58), who was diagnosed with cancer early in the year, passed away in October. He was a former graduate assistant and wide receivers coach at Florida and won consecutive SEC titles with the team from 1984-85. Ending the year on a sad note, beloved Gainesville, FL businessman and former Gators long snapper Harold Monk III (42) died suddenly in December. OGGOA once again sends our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these men.

Florida freshman linebacker Neiron Ball was the first of three members of the Gators family to suffer serious health issues during the year. He was rushed to the hospital in February after a blood vessel in his brain ruptured as part of a congenital vascular condition. The doctors were able to stop the bleeding and Ball was released from the hospital four days later, but he was forced to miss the entire season for recovery purposes. In the middle of the year, Miami Heat guard/forward Mike Miller was lucky enough to have his wife give birth to a daughter named Jaylen. Unfortunately for the family, she was forced to spend two weeks in a pediatric intensive care unit after doctors found that she had five holes in her heart upon being born. The Millers eventually brought Jaylen home with them in a bit of a coincidence considering they actually donated $1 million to a pediatric intensive care unit at children’s hospital in his home town in 2007. Later that month, former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which he is currently still recovering from and will continue to do so over the next few months.

Continue Reading » Top 11 for 2011: Off the Field Stories of the Year

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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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Gators long snapper Harold Monk dead at 42

Former Florida Gators long snapper Harold Monk III, 42, passed away Tuesday, according to WCJB-TV20.

He played for the Gators from 1989-93.

“Harold was an extremely hard working player. He was a good person,” former head coach Steve Spurrier told the station.

Monk, a member of the Gators first SEC Championship team in 1993, spent the latter part of his life as a real estate agent in Gainesville, FL and as the owner of Gator Spirits & Fine Wines.

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Review – ESPN documentary series SEC Storied: “The Play That Changed College Football”

The second of four documentaries set to air on ESPNU this year as part of the SEC Storied documentary series, “The Play That Changed College Football” is an intricate look at the first Southeastern Conference Championship Game played in 1992 between the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0) and No. 12 Florida Gators (8-3).

Directed by Jeff Cvitkovic and narrated by Luke Perry, the film is centered on the thesis that one game – and more specifically one play – “helped shape how conferences are constructed and championships are decided.”

When the SEC expanded to 12 teams (adding Arkansas and South Carolina) nearly two decades ago, then-commissioner Roy Kramer chose to format the conference into two six-team divisions and add a championship game that was previously unheard of in Division I college football.

The prevailing thought was that a SEC team would never win a national championship because even if one got through the regular season undefeated, the team could be canalized in the title game and ruin its chances at national glory. What Kramer saw, however, was not the risk but instead the rewards of increased exposure, television revenue and conference prestige.

“You had a chance to have a team play for the national championship. Now, all of a sudden if they lose this game, they’re gonna lose their shot at a national championship. I was concerned we had shot ourselves in the foot,” he admitted.

The former commissioner is honest and forthcoming when admitting that, while he may be considered a visionary now, he was one play away from potentially being a pariah. Luckily for him, the former came true and not the latter.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s review of ESPN’s latest documentary…after the break!
Continue Reading » Review – ESPN documentary series SEC Storied: “The Play That Changed College Football”

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The Silver Lining: A look at Urban Meyer to OSU

Urban Meyer is off to Ohio State to coach the Buckeyes, fulfilling a lifelong dream and continuing his storied career just 10 months after choosing to leave Florida because it was “time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field.”

Gator Nation was rocked when the more-solid-than-ever rumors began a week ago and continued its uproar Monday when it was confirmed and later officially announced that Meyer would indeed be heading to Ohio State.

Plenty is being said in regards to whether or not Gators fans have a right to be upset at Meyer for taking a job just months after declaring that he needed to reevaluate his health and relationship with his family but there is not one correct answer as to how Florida fans should feel about Meyer’s decision and the way in which this situation unfolded.

Whether the perception is that Meyer was dishonest when communicating his intentions for leaving Florida, a culprit of circumstance with his dream job suddenly becoming available years sooner than expected, or a college football addict unable to satisfy his fix while sitting behind a desk working for a major network, each observation has its own legitimate merits to be considered for evaluation.

Let’s take a more complete look at the situation by examining each angle of the story.
Continue Reading » The Silver Lining: A look at Urban Meyer to OSU

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Urban Meyer announced as Ohio State coach

The Ohio State Buckeyes held a press conference Monday evening to announce that Urban Meyer would take over as head coach following the team’s bowl game this year.

Meyer, who signed a six-year, $24 million contract on Monday, will also receive “supplemental compensation bonuses based on achieving certain milestones including academic accomplishments for the football program, and retention payments of $450,000, $750,000 and $1.2 million if [he] is still employed as head coach on January 31, 2014, January 31, 2016 and January 31 2018, respectively.”

“I am deeply honored and humbled to lead the Ohio State University football program,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to come back to my home state where I was born and where I grew up, where I went to school and met my wife.”

While answering questions during the announcement, Meyer explained that he did not plan on returning to coaching so soon and made an exception for Ohio State that he likely would not have made if any other program came calling for his services.

“If not for the coaching position at Ohio State, I would not have coached this year,” he said. “A year ago, in my mind, I was convinced I was done coaching.”

He also spoke about his health, one of the main reasons he cited for stepping away from the Florida Gators following the 2010 season.

“Health-wise I feel great,” Meyer said. “I had a health scare a couple of years ago that made me sit back, reflect. I didn’t feel right. But I feel fantastic now.”

Meyer did not mention Florida by name until he was more than nine minutes into the press conference. When he did, he lauded his former school, calling coaching at the University of Florida an unparalleled experience.

“My six years at Florida, Florida was my dream job,” he said. “Everybody says: ‘Is Ohio State your dream job?’ That’s a term that’s thrown around really loosely. To say I as this big and wanted to coach at Florida. No, I’m not from Florida. The way Coach [Steve] Spurrier and the way I really became a huge fan, I wanted to coach there.

“I will always be a Gator, will always be a part of that situation. Jeremy Foley, had a great conversation with him today and yesterday. Bernie Machen, the president down there, is one of my great friends. However, this is my home state, and it’s great to be back home.”

Meyer also called his initial staff at Florida in 2005 “the best coaching staff, group of assistant coaches maybe in college football history” and blamed his “pursuit of perfection” with the Gators as the reason he fell victim to increased stress in his final two years at the helm. “I’ve been to a place I’m not going to go back [to],” he said.

He also maintained that the “state of college football” was another reason he chose to step down following the 2010 season but that he has learned to stop trying to fix major NCAA, agent or drug issues and instead “keep it in center field.”

Addressing Florida’s well-publicized arrest record under his watch, Meyer explained that the majority of players who were in trouble at UF was exaggerated.

“Sometimes you’re in a college town where things get – anything – all of a sudden it’s on the front page of the paper. So the issues we had – I see numbers of arrests and the numbers I see are exaggerated. I know what we’ve had to deal with. If we had one, that’s too many,” he said. “Our job as a coaching staff is to mentor, to discipline and to educate young people. And we’ve had a pretty good track record.

“We ran some bumps in the road at the University of Florida. Does that mean we had bad kids? I’ll fight that forever. No, absolutely not, we did not have bad guys. Did they make stupid mistakes? Yeah, I’ve made a few stupid mistakes [too].”

Meyer said that the Buckeyes did not make initial contact with him until Nov. 20, and the two sides did not meet in person until Nov. 23. He received a formal offer from Ohio State on Sunday and signed the contract Monday morning.

As part of his annual salary, Meyer will receive $700,000 in base compensation, $1.85 million in media, promotions and public relations monies, $1.4 million from apparel/shoe/equipment monies, $40,000 contributed to his retirement and $10,000 for a paid Coca-Cola appearance. Other off-field bonuses can be earned for the team’s yearly academic progress rate and graduation success rate.

He can earn $50,000 for winning the Big Ten Leaders Division, $100,000 plus an additional contract year for each Big Ten Championship Game victory, $150,000 for a BCS bowl game appearance, and $250,000 for a BCS National Championship Game appearance.

Meyer will also receive a $1,200/month stipend for automobile costs, a full golf membership, use of the school private jet (including 35 hours of personal use per year) and 12 tickets to each game among other benefits.

He will not coach Ohio State during their bowl game in January but will begin recruiting for the Buckeyes and assembling a coaching staff immediately.

Reports are that he has already hired Florida director of football administration Mark Pantoni away from the Gators and may make overtures to linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin and strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti as well.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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Commentary: Blame Muschamp? It depends.

The following is a guest commentary column written by Marc Ryan, host of the Morning Wrap on The Ticket Sports Network 100.3 FM in the Florida panhandle. You can follow Marc and his sports ramblings on Twitter @MarcRyanOnAir.

It’s a job title millions list as their dream position. It brings with it an immense degree of power, influence and say-so. That’s not to mention the fact that a seven-figure salary is likely another part of the package.

Sound too good to be true?

The position of major college football power head coach is not for the faint of heart. It’s a job in which daggers are thrown much more often than thanks are spoken.

Many doctors believe it’s among the most stressful and potentially unhealthy. Nothing’s consistent. There are incredibly long hours filled with enough pressure to vacuum up the entire city of Gainesville, FL with one flick of the switch.

Thus it comes as no surprise Will Muschamp has encountered turbulence in his first year at Florida’s helm. It’s a rocky flight that has spared not even the best ever at the job. Steve Spurrier hinted at a lack of appreciation following two-loss seasons, and Urban Meyer exhibited all the signs of a burnout.

How much of the Gators’ five losses are on Muschamp? What percentage of the multiple stinging punchless performances in a row was poor coaching? Why didn’t he call this play in that situation, or that play in this situation? How well is he really doing?

It all depends.

Scanning the landscape of college football, a fan may want to juxtapose the plight of this coach with that of other new faces in prestigious places. In so doing, the following truths jump off the page:

• There’s no such thing as a quick fix in college football.
• While it is possible to maintain the level of play of your uber-successful predecessor, it’s quite impossible to instantaneously take the program a notch above.
• Most of all of the soon-to-be mentioned coaches have had looks of strain, stress, and erosion on their faces in their attempts to pull an Alex Honnold-like ascension up the side of a treacherous mountain with no ropes or protection.

Tommy Tuberville was largely forgotten until an unfathomable win thrust him back into the limelight a few weeks ago. Houston Nutt has tried and failed at Ole Miss. Jimbo Fisher has fan support but has not fulfilled the high expectations he had as a top team in the preseason.

Dan Mullen’s ride up the hill has run over a nail at Mississippi State. Bo Pelini has definitely pulled Nebraska back from the abyss, but even they have been denied first class seating to date.

Bobby Petrino’s best case scenario is a bronze medal in his conference, and they’d be off the medals stand completely if you believe the SEC Eastern Division Championship is held in higher regard. Derek Dooley? 10-13 overall and 3-12 in conference play at a once storied program desperate to reclaim what’s rightfully or wrongfully theirs.

For every Gene Chizik or Brady Hoke – who is now or has very recently been the toast of the town – a swift three-game slide is all that stands between them and the burnt crust of your local slimy bar. It’s a tenuous, treasonous (by some fans) existence marked by the ever-reaching failure to “please all the people all the time.”

There are no cures, no David Blaine tricks or magic bullets. In this job, the bullets are fired in a coach’s direction, and just like Neo in the Matrix, it takes many great coaches a while to learn how to dodge them.

Muschamp is still dealing with that learning curve, whether he wants to admit it or not. How much he improves – and the level to which the team responds in kind – will determine how successful he can be as a head coach in the long run.

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