Florida Football: Why Muschamp's Second Season Will Be Successful

Neil ShulmanCorrespondent IAugust 5, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators waits on the sidelines during the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes at EverBank Field on January 2, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

What do Nick Saban, Chip Kelly, Gene Chizik and Urban Meyer all have in common?

You wouldn't think much, since Saban is a defensive guru, Kelly and Meyer are known for their speedy offenses and Chizik, well, hasn't done much of anything without Cam Newton.

But it's simple. The answer lies in their win/loss records in their second years as head coaches at big programs compared to their first.

Let's run off the numbers: Chizik was 8-5 in his first year at Auburn, 14-0 in his second. Saban was 7-6 in his first year at Alabama, 12-2 in his second. Meyer was 9-3 in his first year at Florida, and 13-1 in his second. Kelly was 10-3 in his first year at Oregon, and 12-1 in his second. Two of these four men won BCS National Championships in their second years, and all four led their teams to BCS bowl games in their second years.

So you're probably thinking, that's a nice list, but it doesn't mean that Muschamp will join it.

But there are three more traits that Muschamp shares with these four coaches. 

Everybody who plays for Saban loves him because they know he can turn them into winners, which was why they went to Alabama in the first place... and I haven't yet met the man who questions his knowledge of defense or ability to recruit.

Kelly is a fun-loving guy who demands a lot from his players, who in turn adore playing pawns in his high-powered offense. And so naturally, a good number of the big dreaming running backs and receivers want to go to Oregon, making his recruiting easy.

Urban Meyer's relationships with some of his players have reached legendary status... some of them in good ways, some of them in not so good ways (for example, the circle of trust report). But all his players love him. As for his offensive knowledge, I can't think of anybody more individually innovative. Nor can I think of a better recruiter. 

Gene Chizik is a little different, but only because he hasn't been at Auburn long enough for tear-jerking tales of his relationships with players to develop, and because, well, of the whole Cam Newton thing. But his players obviously love him and credit him with putting together the defense that silenced Oregon in the BCS National Championship Game in 2010. And he can certainly recruit.

Will Muschamp's knowledge of defense cannot be questioned. He put together the eighth best defense in the nation last year, and he currently holds the second best recruiting class in the nation. And in only two years, stories of Muschamp's love for his players and vice versa have circulated everywhere.

For a team to run the season wire to wire as No. 1, it must have both an explosive offense and a stifling defense. But to take the world by storm and challenge for the national championship out of nowhere, a team only needs one of those units to win, and the other simply can't lose the game.

Right now, it appears that Florida's got that defense, and as long as the offense doesn't turn the ball over, the Gators could be a dark horse in the SEC race.