Florida head coach Will Muschamp's status with the Gators is tenuous at best.
The third-year head coach of the Florida Gators is now 22-13 in Gainesville, 13-10 within the SEC, 0-3 against rival Georgia and is fresh off a 34-17 loss to Vanderbilt—the first time the Gators have lost to the Commodores in Gainesville since 1945.
Whether you think he's as good as gone this offseason or believe that athletic director Jeremy Foley will give him another year to turn things around—preferably without 10 players being lost due to injury—it's clear that Muschamp's seat is hot.
Don't believe me? Believe the fans who, according to a tweet from 247Sports.com's Thomas Goldkamp, are angry enough to leave suggestions for Foley at the athletic complex.
Muschamp has a buyout of around $8 million, according to FoxSportSouth.com's Cory McCartney, so that might keep him around for a while. So who are some of the potential replacements if and when Muschamp is let go? Let's look at some options.
Louisville Head Coach Charlie Strong
Strong is an obvious choice for the Gators for two reasons—he has a proven track record of success and is familiar with the program.
He served as the Gators defensive coordinator from 2002-2009, where he won two national championships (2006, 2008), routinely produced top-tier defenses and heavily recruited the state of Florida—where he continues to make an impact today.
He's 33-15 as a head coach, beat the Gators in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, 33-23, and signed and developed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater into one of the most prolific passers in college football.
That'd be a welcomed change for Florida, which has seen its passing offense become more punch line than power under Muschamp. The Gators finished last in the SEC in passing last season with 146.3 yards per game, and aren't much better this season with 189.7 yards per game.
The question is, can they lure him away?
He signed a lucrative extension through the year 2020 after last season, which includes a hefty buyout, according to the Associated Press.
Louisville is joining the ACC next season, which gives it a much easier path to the BCS National Championship Game. Plus, Strong spurned Tennessee last offseason to re-up with the Cardinals. It'd cost a lot to fire Muschamp, and much more to lure Strong.
That seems like a long shot.
Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin
Looking for a potential replacement? Look no further than the head coach of the team that most recently toppled the Gators—Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin.
He's made Vanderbilt relevant and competitive in the SEC in the midst of the most prosperous time in conference history.
The Commodores are averaging 32.3 points per game this season and averaged 29.8 per game last season. The highest scoring average in the three seasons prior to Franklin taking over was 19.2 points per game (2008).
|Vanderbilt Points Per Game|
|Year||Points Per Game||Wins|
Instead of buckling in the face of adversity, Franklin's team has thrived. Quarterback Patton Robinette, making just his second career start in place of starter Austyn Carta-Samuels, led his team to a road win in a hostile environment as a double-digit underdog.
He agreed to a raise and healthy extension last season, according to ESPN.com's Edward Aschoff, the details of which are relatively unknown since Vanderbilt—as a private institution—doesn't have to release figures. USA Today reported in its salary database that he's making $1,842,771, but that likely doesn't include bonuses and other income from related channels.
Franklin would be a fantastic hire for Florida if it decides to make a move.
Baylor Head Coach Art Briles
If Florida wants offense in a hurry, then Baylor head coach Art Briles is the man for the job. Briles' accolades at Baylor include a Heisman Trophy winner in 2011 with quarterback Robert Griffin III, the nation's top-scoring offense in 2013 (61 points per game), an 8-0 record so far this season and the No. 5 spot in the current BCS standings.
He has turned Baylor from a Big 12 afterthought into a Big 12 power since taking over the program in 2008, won 10 games in 2011 and certainly appears well on his way to—at the very worst—matching that mark this year.
The question is, would he come?
Baylor will open the doors on a magnificent new stadium next season, has generated enormous momentum for the program, and he has coached in the state of Texas every year since 1979.
It'd be a lot of fun to see what Briles would be able to do at Florida with the talented athletes that he could lure to campus from the Sunshine State. But his Texas roots may be too strong.
Clemson Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris
Chad Morris may seem like a risk since he has no head coaching experience at the college level, as was the case when Florida hired Muschamp. But he's the polar opposite of Muschamp.
Morris' hurry-up, no-huddle offense led the ACC with 512.7 yards per game in 2012, and posted the conference's second-best offense in 2011 with 440.8 yards per game. He's the new "hot shot" coordinator in the coaching market, and certainly seems to be waiting for the big job to jump to the next challenge.
Florida could be that big job.
Morris won't be the top candidate, but his system works, would differentiate Florida from its in-state rivals and could give the offense the kick in the rear it needs to get going again.
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