Florida sits at 4-5 and on the verge of posting its first sub-.500 record since 1979, which has called the status of third-year head coach Will Muschamp's job into question.
Muschamp is 22-13 in Gainesville, with a 13-10 record within the conference and an 0-3 record against rival Georgia. Sure, injuries have contributed to Florida's ineptitude this year—10 season-ending ones, to be exact. But Muschamp's emphasis on keeping a stout defense fresh with a ball-control offense has backfired and was a problem long before the injuries began to mount.
Will he stay or will he go?
According to athletic director Jeremy Foley, he's staying.
Foley spoke with GatorZone.com's Scott Carter and gave Muschamp the dreaded vote of confidence on Wednesday.
“As athletic director, I’m a thousand percent convinced that Will Muschamp is the guy to lead this football program,’’ Foley said. “Nothing has changed in what we feel about Will Muschamp from the day we hired him."
That's exactly the problem, though. Nothing has changed.
Specifically, Muschamp's philosophy as a head coach hasn't changed when it's clear that it needs to.
|Will Muschamp Season-By-Season as a Head Coach|
|Year||Overall Rec.||Conf. Rec.||PF||PA|
Does that mean offensive coordinator Brent Pease is bound for the unemployment line?
Not necessarily, but it's clear that the offense—which finished 12th in the SEC in total offense last season, is 14th this season and has led in time of possession in both—needs a jump-start.
Does Muschamp strike you as the kind of coach who's willing to change his philosophy in order to save his own job? He may have to, but that's as easy as pulling teeth.
Foley went on to specify that his public expression of support for Muschamp wasn't a true "vote of confidence."
"This is not the quote-unquote dreaded ‘vote of confidence'," Foley told Carter. "This is just how we all feel around here. We have a strong faith and a strong belief in his capabilities, in his leadership skills, in his ability to evaluate what needs to be fixed.”
Yes, it was.
There's no reason to make that statement unless your coach is embattled, and Foley's coach is clearly embattled.
Will Muschamp probably will be back to coach the Gators in 2014 but will be in the same boat that former USC coach Lane Kiffin was in prior to the 2013 season. One or two slip-ups, and Muschamp will be gone.
The problem for Muschamp is, what if those slip-ups come this season and not next?
The injury issue is a built-in excuse, and it is one that will probably work. But what if Florida gets embarrassed by South Carolina and Florida State?
It's easy to say that you stand by your coach in the middle of the season, but the worst may be yet to come. The Gators looked thoroughly uninspired in Saturday's 34-17 loss to Vanderbilt, and the worst may be yet to come.
This is a textbook example of the dreaded vote of confidence. Foley knows his fanbase is fractured, his program is in turmoil, and it can't right the ship with its play on the field right now. As a result, public support is the only other way to bring everybody back together.
That's just a band-aid, though, and if the scars from this season don't begin to heal sooner rather than later, Muschamp will be looking for work, too.