Snell’s Slant: Muschamp is paid to fix the leaks

By Adam Silverstein
October 25, 2013

A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell joined in 2012 as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team. He has returned to continue sharing his musings through the 2013 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 of those contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.

I’m not known for beating around the bush. That’s never been me and is something that’s unlikely to change. A lot of times in the past I have said some things that were enraging and other times (though more rarely) plain stupid, but I’ve always tried to tell the truth and speak my mind. In the end, no matter who likes you or who doesn’t, people will respect you for doing so.

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.” – Mark Twain

Here’s some truth: this Florida Gators football team is not good. Sure, that’s a statement straight out of Captain Obvious’s journal, but I have not seen anything like this dating back to the good ol’ days of Ron Zook.

The Gators are failing in every aspect of the game and there appears to be little hope in sight. There was a possibility that Florida could have or perhaps even should have beaten a decent Missouri team, but with so many injuries and an overall lack of identity, that thought became more and more fictitious as the clock counted down to zero.

I’m not going to beat a dead horse when it pertains to analyzing the Missouri game. That has already been done here on and elsewhere. You’ve read about the offensive line being atrocious, the defense playing uninspired, and the coaches making a number of mistakes throughout the game, starting with failing to give freshman running back Kelvin Taylor more carries.

Looking at things from my perspective, the biggest concern I have at this point is the relationship between the coaches and the players and whether division has already been created internally. Simply put, no one enjoys losing. Speaking as a former player, it can create a lack of trust towards the coaching staff from the players, especially when losses begin to pile up and adjustments are not made.

I was in this position before, folks. I played under Ron Zook for two years, and they were – without a doubt – the two toughest years I ever had to endure as a football player.

I came into Florida from Hillsborough High School, and we were not used to losing. When I signed to play for the Gators in February 2000, I did it because I wanted to play for a winning program under a proven coach in Steve Spurrier.

Unfortunately, he left for the NFL, and Zook came along. Those last two years were quite frustrating because we were losing games that we should have won and winning games that otherwise should have been blowouts by slim margins.

At one point, quite a few of us questioned whether the coaching staff knew what it was doing. It was far from a mutiny, trust me, but division began to slowly form and we were nowhere near on the same page at times.

Zook may have lacked in some areas as a coach but he made up for his deficiencies in two major ways. One, he was an amazing recruiter. Two, he knew how to rally the players together when times got tough. Unfortunately, he had to do the second a bit too often. But he realized that while those outside the program doubted him and some internally began to question his ability, he had the capability to motivate and inspire.

May I remind you that in 2003, with Florida sporting a 3-3 record, the Gators responded to Zook by running off three consecutive victories against ranked opponents.

As it turns out, head coach Will Muschamp is currently in a similar dubious position and has a schedule that features two more ranked opponents and Florida’s biggest rival in Georgia. The true character of a coach is not how he reacts after a win but how he responds after a loss. Muschamp has the opportunity to prove that he can not only motivate the team to get back on the same page but coach them up enough to save what could otherwise be a disastrous season.

It is his job to fix the leaks. It is why he is being paid the big money. He has to improve the product on the field and ensure the locker room does not turn sour.

Muschamp has openly admitted that this is not a good football team right now. He has to keep the belief of his players, because if he does not, the losses will begin to pile up and an over-.500 season will be in serious doubt.

No matter how safe Jeremy Foley said Muschamp’s job is after his team was beaten down by Missouri, more losses compounded by increasing fan discontent (and subsequent waning attendance) could force his hand otherwise.


  1. Ken (CA) says:

    Shannon, as a former player, what kinds of things do you watch for during games to be able to tell whether or not the coach has lost the locker room? Is it anything obvious, or just a vibe you feel from the bench?

  2. Keith says:

    And the strangest thing is that they closed practices trying to hide stuff, but there’s no secret as to what the offense is doing because I and everyone else can predict the sequence of plays on every possession.

  3. SW FL Joe says:

    Is the division Coaches vs Players or Meyers Guys vs Muschamp Guys?

    • Ziggy says:

      Guys, he didn’t say that there is any division. He knows just as much of what’s going on inside the locker room as we do, which means he knows nothing. It was just a comment to get you guys stirred up. If there is any division in the locker room over a couple of losses, then we’ve got a lot of self entitled baby’s that need to get a grip. I don’t think that’s the case, but that’s just my opinion.

  4. tank says:

    Maybe this series should be called “Snell’s Rant”.

  5. HardToKillGtr says:

    Hello Shannon…I’ve never seen or heard anything about what other coaches think about our head coach. Things like: can he coach, do his players like him? Have any info on this?

  6. Jared says:

    This was Snell’s best slant to date. No one knows the current situation better than Shannon having gone through something similar.

    I think he’s right that its Muschamp’s job to get this fixed. Maybe he doesn’t coach the offense, but its his boring philosophy and he hires the ofensive coordinator. If the Gators don’t win 7 regular season games, this can be considered a very bad year. Unfortunately, the odds are good Florida only wins 6, maybe even 5 wins.

    IMO, I haven’t seen anything from Muschamp that he’s willing to make the necessary changes to turn this team around on offense. I certainly hope I’m wong, but I am not overly confident.

  7. SW FL Joe says:

    I know Foley will not go for it, but when you can lose your scholy for not performing it does tend to get rid of the entitlement mentality.

  8. HardToKillGtr says:

    Earlier in the season when our football team began to unravel I felt sorry for Will Muschamp because we Gator Fans started doing what fans do who are at the least, emotionally invested in our team. We want to know the what, where, when, why and how the Gator team will be returned to the elite level we have reached. We have a right and obligation to keep up the pressure to fix it. To fix it is why coaches are hired! It is why WM was hired. He wanted the job. He is well paid to do the job. Part of the job is listening to fans when things are good or bad. This fan and a lotta others are disappointed and madder than hell. And, it’s not because a young, inexperienced coach has made mistakes. It’s because he has unveiled a huge personality problem. He won’t take an honest look at his part in this mess and do something about his rigid, inflexible mind set that keeps him from making the changes it will take to fix our team. We know it’s gonna take awhile to fix. I guess this is my rant. Go Gators

  9. Hans says:

    Keep in mind we are 8 starters less on both sides of the ball since our first game, We lost to three top 10 programs even though I think Miami stinks this year. I have been questioning the Taylor not getting carries and constantly said doesn’t Muschamp trust his own recruits and Mike Gillislee sat on bench for most of his career when everyone in the stand clearly saw how well he ran when he was a sophomore and junior. The other question I have is using spread option dual threat QB’s in what is suppossed to be a pro style offense. Isnt anyone behind Tyler Murphy a drop back passer with some passing abilities? Since Murphy got hurt in the LSU game why was he doing such vanilla things at Missouri….just some thoughts

    • Gatorgrad79 says:

      …and when guys with ability are forgotten on the bench, after awhile, we will not get those recruits. Potential recruits talk, and even when they expect to sit a RS or freshman year, after a while they expect to play.

  10. Shannon Snell says:

    I’ll guess I’ll touch a little on every comment.

    Ken – nothing particular. One telling tales for me is body language. Just like players, you can tell when coaches are confused, frustrated, or just had enough.
    Keith – I don’t think they closed practice because they’re not very good right now. I remember Spurrier did that from time to time, and we we undefeated at the time.
    Joe – no, this isn’t a division between Meyers guys vs WM guys. I was talking about that division that could happen between players and current coaching staff because of lack of creativity and multiple losses.
    Zig – I actually know more than the average bear sir. Not trying to sir anyone up, all I’m saying is I’ve seen it happen before and it doesn’t look great right now. Example: did you see Morrison and the secondary yelling at each other? Maybe nothing is there, but that didn’t look great, agreed?
    Tank – I’m a big fan of alliteration. If my name was Randy, that would be awesome. I think Slant goes a bit better since… You know.. We are talking about football. 🙂
    Hard2kill – I really think a great coach nowadays equates to winning football games. Even though he’s young, I think WM has the respect of the other coaches around the league especially after his resume last year and dating back to Texas.
    Jared – thanks bro! This actually was one of the toughest for me to write. I could have easily sounded like a broken record last week.
    Hans – great analysis. The only thing I can say is, I don’t care of Peyton Manning is back there, if the Oline can’t protect, the offense is gonna suck.

    • Ziggy says:

      Shannon – I didn’t intend to offend you. I just don’t think it’s helpful to give this fan base any more reasons to spew the negative comments all over the web that only increases the noise in the system. This noise only makes it harder to recruit, harder to coach, and harder to win.

  11. aziatic41 says:

    SC beat Mizzou last night so that mathematically puts us back in the SEC East race. Fact is, its a very slim chance we’ll beat SC at their place. If we lose to both UGA and SC then Muschamp should be fired. Plain and simple. I’m tired of people making excuses about our o-line, etc. We are not the only team with injuries. At a place like UF we should be able to win regardless of injuries. Or at least compete. Our last 2 losses has been a result of horrible coaching. True last last year we were 11-2 but it was a result of catching some very lucky fortunate breaks. Our offense was horrible last year also. If you are a true Gator fan then you could see this was going to eventually happen with how bad and shaky our offense was last year. Hence, getting man-handled by a lesser talented Louisville team in the Sugar Bowl last year.

  12. Rory M. (Tampa says:

    Shanon knows a thing about football. I disagree on1 point. These guys went 11-2 last yr. while it is frustrating injuries have played a major role and we have young guys playing hard but are in over their heads. While they should be prepared we see the ones that are clutch and those who are playing like freshman. Shanon also being an lineman takes trust and communication, a lot of these guys are playing new positions and are a mash unit as well. I think we will be fine and unfortuneately have to stick together at these times and support this team. They put in the work 7 days a week while we wait. Stay strong my friends. Through all types of weathe….

  13. Shannon Snell says:


    No offense taken bud. I get what you’re saying… But the Gators have to produce a much better product if they want to get those 4 and 5 star recruits. There needs to be some sort of progression which we have definately not seen on the offensive side of the ball. I’ve never like the term “noise in the system.” As you and I both know, the “noise” refers to the fan base and boosters. And guess what, that “noise” pays for tickets, stadium upgrades, any pays salaries. The “noise” plays a much bigger role than a lot of ppl think. Just saying.

    • Ziggy says:

      I totally agree that the noise controls a lot. That’s why I don’t want it to start prematurely. Everybody needs to get a grip and realize that it takes several years to switch from a spread to a pro style offense bc every position must be overhauled on offense.

  14. Nugent1021 says:

    I don’t believe that it takes years to set up a team. Look at Texas tech, auburn, ohio state, saints, etc etc. new coaches come in and bam the team goes from bad to great overnight with the same players. Our offense will continue the way it has been until a change in coaching and approach is made. These players deserve better. They’re all good players. We’ve got the players. Humpheries was a 5 star. The kid can play. Otherwise, I do agree on the defensive side it’s been unlucky and a terrible rash of injuries. If Easley and Powell were still there the last 2 games…..

    • Ziggy says:

      The difference here is that under Myers spread attack we lost the ability to recruit elite pass catchers who want to go downfield and catch passes, not block for scat backs. We lost the ability to recruit runners who want to run up the middle, not side to side. We don’t have a physical pissed off offensive line, we have a mix match line that is half suited for power and half for finesse or lateral running plays. I don’t know about all the teams you mentioned, but Gus took over a team that was already full of players that he recruited.

  15. Sam Andreu says:

    Winning is a state of mind and a duty. Being a gator, I expect to win. I expect us to molest the endZone. I do not think any alumni want to see us run the ball 55 times for 3.5 yards. The Zook years were the most painful since the late 80’s (which I don’t really remember). Winning starts at the top. Remember spurrier and Meyers first years? We knew we had something. We know now, we don’t have something. I have herd enough bs about whose player, spread, pro. I don’t give a damn about any of that. I want wins.

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