Florida head coach Will Muschamp
Florida head coach Will Muschamp entered Saturday's matchup with Vanderbilt on one of the hottest seats in America. He exited unable to sit down.
The Gators fell to Vanderbilt 34-17 on Saturday afternoon in the Swamp in a game that was littered with mistakes, turnovers and all-around ineptitude. Florida turned the ball over four times, committed 11 penalties and let a Vanderbilt team that managed to gain just 183 yards embarrass them at home.
It's the first time Florida has lost to Vanderbilt since 1988, and with South Carolina and Florida State still on the schedule, it all but assures the 4-5 Gators of a sub-.500 record for the first time since 1979 when they finished 0-10-1.
But it's worse, according to ESPN's College GameDay.
Vanderbilt's last win in Gainesville was 1945, their first meeting. #VANDYvsUF— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) November 9, 2013
Something has to be done.
Injuries have played a part in Florida's struggles. Nine Gators have been lost for the season with injuries, including two offensive linemen, quarterback Jeff Driskel, defensive tackle Dominique Easley and running back Matt Jones.
But Florida's offense didn't exactly set the world on fire before Driskel's injury. Injuries happen, and even though Florida has been decimated, there's no excuse for Florida looking this inept. Not with the talent that supposedly exists on the roster.
Injuries or not, the guys out there for Florida were almost all more highly recruited than the guys out there for Vandy.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 9, 2013
The Gators have finished no worse than 11th in the 247Sports.com team composite rankings over the last five seasons, and they finished in the top five in three of those seasons.
The loss to Vanderbilt sealed the deal. Florida will be looking for a new head coach this offseason. He's already lost the fanbase, as evidenced by Cody Jones of Scout.com.
Florida fan leaving the stadium: "Wow, Vanderbilt. This wasn't a spelling test or math quiz."— Cody Jones (@CJonesScout) November 9, 2013
What will two blowout losses to South Carolina and Florida State—which appear inevitable at this point—do to the fanbase and program?
Muschamp is now 22-13 in two-plus years in Gainesville, 13-10 in the SEC, 0-3 versus rival Georgia and nearly anonymous in the SEC East. That's unacceptable, and Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley shouldn't need any more information to determine what needs to be done.
The head coach isn't giving up on himself, though, telling the Associated Press after the game (via ESPN), "There's nobody more let down or hurt or competitive-edge dented a little bit by this. So it's on me. We'll get it turned. I can assure you that."
The question now becomes: What concessions will Muschamp offer to save himself?
Will offensive coordinator Brent Pease be let go?
It won't really matter unless Muschamp agrees to change his philosophy as a head coach. That's easier said than done, and Muschamp hasn't exactly proven during his time as head coach that he's flexible enough to cross that bridge.
He knows it and Florida knows it, which is exactly why Florida should go in another direction.
Will Florida have a new head coach in 2014?
If it doesn't, Foley is just delaying the inevitable. Florida's fade route down the stretch this season would put Muschamp in the same spot former USC head coach Lane Kiffin was in at the start of this season, if he's allowed to stick around. Florida would have to have an immediate turnaround in 2014 for him to stay employed.
So why wait?
It's not just injuries, it's an ultra-conservative philosophy which starts at the top that's clearly not working.
That philosophy played a major part in the most embarrassing loss of the recent era of Florida football.
The time for Florida to move on is now, before more uncertainty further rattles the foundation of this program.