Commentary: Blame Muschamp? It depends.

By Adam Silverstein
November 17, 2011

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.

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]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.[/EXPAND]


  1. Ryan says:

    Ok, you asked four questions in the beginning of the article and didn’t answer any of them. Disappointing, to say the least.

    • I think Marc’s point was along the lines of “you’re asking all of these questions but it is too early to tell whose fault anything is because he’s just getting started,” hence the direction of the piece.

  2. Ken (CA) says:

    I think the premise of this article is bad. There may be no such thing as a quick fix in CFB, but this team wasn’t in the need of a quick fix, there was tons of talent that was raw. Urban Meyer stepped into the same situation when he came in, and probably had even less talent overall. The difference was Meyer evaluated the talent he had and molded his offense/defense around what he had and slowly implemented his full scheme as he got more players that fit it better. Muschamp is trying to pound a square peg in a round hole, and the lack of results show how successful that is. Meyer put his playlers in a position to succeed and win and Muschamp hasn’t. This could easily have been a 10-2 team (or even better) with the talent we had out there, raw as it was, if we played more to the srengths rather than a team hoping for a win over Furman!! just to qualify for the GMAC bowl or whatever the low tier bowl is in the SEC nowadays.

  3. Zach says:

    Id be willing to bet Meyer would have the same record at this point with the previous coaching staff. ‘Tons of talent’?! Lets pretend thats right for a second, how many junior/seniors who contrubute meaningful snaps are on this team?(4, maybe) The vast majority of our talent is in the soph/freshman classes, and nobody is going 10-2 in the first year of a new system with that much youth. Muschamp is going to be great in a few years, the ‘noise’ has already ran off 1 good coach, lets not let it happen again.

  4. Donnie wise says:

    I feel it’s a great article and very refreshing to see that there is still some gator fans that are realalistic. I really didn’t expect much from our football team this year and to be honest I was very pleased with both performances in the past 2 games. My personal feeling is that 2013 is the year everything will fall back into place. That is if we get the recruits we need. As we all see now it’s not about the 5* ratings from rivals and ESPN. Its more about desire and hunger, and if anyone thinks urban would have a better record at this point then they are most likely very dim in there football IQ. If Brantley was a junior I would have higher hopes for next year too. But with a true sophomore QB ( most likely Brisset) leading the charge and probably a ton of freshman in the 2 deep I really think we’re still a couple years out. I guess the big question is, does muschamp have that long of a leash?

    • GG says:

      He has to absolutely nail this recruiting class or the noise cranks up…..may not survive it. The leash is short in Gator Nation.

  5. John S says:

    The decision to completely overhaul the offensive and defensive schemes immediately was solely Muschamp’s. It’s a big reason for the attrition and lack of depth. He needs to show he can motivate his players, and so far in the 4th quarter I haven’t seen it. He certainly has all of next year before Foley would really grow impatient, and likely another year after that. But as fans we certainly have the right to complain when we have a below average team. Now if he can beat FSU at home, and maybe Ohio State in the Gator Bowl, I will certainly apologize and gladly eat crow.

  6. DT says:

    I learned absolutely nothing from this article. Where is the analysis?

    If you at going to pose a question (or four) at least try to answer one.

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux