Florida announces hiring of Duke’s Kurt Roper

By Adam Silverstein
December 26, 2013

The Florida Gators on Thursday officially announced the hiring of their new offensive coordinator, welcoming Kurt Roper of the Duke Blue Devils into the fold.

“I’m excited to have Coach Roper join our staff,” head coach Will Muschamp said in a statement released by the school. “He has a diverse, up-tempo background on offense and does a good job of adapting to what the players do best. The most important thing though is he has always remained balanced.

“He has had success calling plays in the SEC and has tutored three NFL quarterbacks. He has had players produce at every offensive position and he is one of the most well-respected coaches in the country.”

Roper becomes Muschamp’s third offensive coordinator hire in just four seasons, following Charie Weis (2011) and Brent Pease (2012-13). Weis left for a head coach job at Kansas, but Pease was fired one day after the conclusion of the 2013 season when his offense finished worse than 100th nationally for the second-straight year.

Like Weis and Pease, Roper will also coach the team’s quarterbacks.

According to The Gainesville Sun, he will earn $600,000 in his first season. The terms of Roper’s prior contract with Duke were not released as it is a private university.

One of five finalists for the 2013 Broyles Award, which is handed out annually to the best assistant coach in college football, Roper just concluded his sixth season with the Blue Devils and also served as the program’s assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach.

His unit finished in the top 70 nationally each of the last two seasons in both scoring and total offense by utilizing a pass-heavy attack.

Muschamp has been telling players and recruits that UF hopes to switch to an up-tempo spread offense in 2013.

Duke will face Texas A&M in the 2013 Chick-Fil-A Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. in Atlanta, GA, and Roper will stay on to help lead the team’s offense in its bowl game.

Roper has been a highly-regarded assistant throughout his career, which includes plenty of experience in the Southeastern Conference. He started off by serving as a graduate assistant at Tennessee (1996-98) before moving on with David Cutcliffe to Ole Miss, working under him as a quarterbacks coach (1999-01) and passing game coordinator (2002-04). In the latter role, Roper helped direct Eli Manning to a 2003 SEC Player of the Year Award; he would eventually become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

Muschamp and Roper went head-to-head on the gridiron from 2002-04 with the former LSU defensive coordinator finishing 3-0 in their battles. Ole Miss fell 14-13 in 2002, 17-14 in 2003 and 27-24 in 2004. According to Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com, Roper was also the Rebels’ play caller when they put together a 35-24 win over the Tigers in 2001 with Muschamp serving as LSU’s linebackers coach.

When Cutcliffe was fired, Roper moved on and coached quarterbacks under head coach Rich Brooks (and offensive coordinator Joker Phillips) at Kentucky in 2005. He then spent two years working as a running backs coach at Tennessee before taking his current position back at Duke, all back with Cutcliffe as his boss.

In his first two seasons with the Blue Devils, Roper helped turn QB Thad Lewis into a two-time All-ACC selection who finished his career as the school’s all-time leading passer, setting more than 50 program records.

As Duke began improving the talent on its roster, the team’s offensive production spiked. In 2012, the Blue Devils set single-season records for total points and points per game, numbers Duke eclipsed in 2013 with a total of 411 points (31.6 per game).

On staff with Roper at Duke was his brother, Zac Roper, who works as the tight ends coach, recruiting coordinator and a special teams assistant. Florida has all three positions filled at this time, but Zac Roper could theoretically wind up replacing UF tight ends coach Derek Lewis.

Photo Credit: Duke University


  1. NYC Gator says:

    May have missed it but did we hire an o-line coach yet? Maybe his brother could come aboard as o-line coach (I feel like Addazio may have done the same thing at one point) but not sure if that’s the best move considering how terrible the line was last year.

  2. gatorboi352 says:

    hopefully for Muschamp’s sake 3rd time is a charm

    • Oldfyer says:

      Hopefully, for the Gators sake more of them can stay healthy in 2014, and produce a season that reflects their ability; more like 2012 than 2013.

      Face it Pease may have paid the price for the injuries, and to mollify bloodthirsty fans demanding human sacrifice. I don’t imagine that the rumored disputes between him and his Oline coach which may have contributed to the dysfunction helped his cause. We will never know.

      New year; new expectations.

      • Mike S. says:

        Ridiculous. Pease paid the price because he led the 114th best offense in the nation at an elite football school. I’m sure you would have brought him back because, after all, he could there were still 9 more spots to go to get us to 123rd.

  3. Sharon M. says:

    Good hire I think. Now Muschamp hopefully will allow him to do his own thing and it can become a more creative offense(remember fun and gun?)

  4. Aligator says:

    So he finished top 50 in offense this past year, We are shooting for the stars! Remember that Pease ran a hiflying offense before he came to us!

  5. uf_84 says:

    Welcome to UF caoch Roper. I wish you much success. If you can fix the mess you’ve inherited and bring high powered offense back to the stadium formally known as the swamp, you will be revered by Gator nation. Let’s get to work. Go Gators!

  6. sean kidd says:

    Maybe Muschamp should let someone else do the talking to recruits about the new offense. Cook, Lane, Phillips, 6 transfers….yeah maybe let Robinson talk to them.

  7. ChattanooGator says:

    Welcome Coach Roper! We are hoping for a great year! This should be a coming out party for Driskell!!
    Go Gators!!!!!!

  8. gradygator says:

    As Andy Hutchins of Alligator Army stated in his recently published story on the Roper hire, “And Roper has had success against Florida in The Swamp, as Coaching Search’s Pete Roussel pointed out on Tuesday. He was Mississippi’s offensive coordinator in 2002 and 2003, when Eli Manning-led Ole Miss teams downed Ron Zook-coached Florida squads home and away. Mississippi racked up 485 yards in its 2003 visit to Gainesville, and put together a game-winning drive that punched in the deciding touchdown with 1:10 to go in a 20-17 victory.”

    In other words, Roper got the best of Charlie Strong not once but twice when Strong was our DC during the Zookers tenure. Still not good enough for those who want Strong to be our HBC?

    I think its a great hire and great for our offense, our team and our program. A proven and respected SEC coordinator, a developer of 3 NFL QBs, comes from a great mentor (cutcliffe) and has had 3 qb’s at Duke pass for over 3,000 yds. What more can you ask for? I realize his offense is not the highest ranked but he’s at Duke for God’s sake and he’s never had the kind of talent that we have (i.e., A. Fulwood, D Robinson, K. Taylor, Driskell will impress in the offense, etc). In addition, his hire is going to help us shore up committments from D. Cook, Grier, etc. Get ready boys, the Fun and Gun will be back!

    Can’t wait!!!! Go Gators.

  9. gradygator says:

    uf-84, thanks for your comment. it was not my intention to diss Charlie Strong. I think he was great while he was at UF–I was a big fan of his. and it seems like he’s done a great job at Louisville as well including a recent Sugar Bowl over the not so mighty gators.

    point is, Strong gets his bell rung every once in a while too just like every other coach. on those occasions, it happened to be at the hands of our new OC. not at bad day of in the press box when you got toe to toe with charlie strong and win on consecutive occassions. We are lucky to have him on our side helping rebuild our offense into a championship caliber unit.

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