Last week, prior to Florida's loss on the road, Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley emphatically gave head coach Will Muschamp a vote of confidence.
“As athletic director, I’m a thousand percent convinced that Will Muschamp is the guy to lead this football program,’’ Foley said according to GatorZone.com's Scott Carter. “Nothing has changed in what we feel about Will Muschamp from the day we hired him."
Now, something has changed.
After losing a heartbreaker to South Carolina last weekend, the Gators (4-7, 3-5 SEC) lost 26-20 to FCS foe Georgia Southern in front of the less-than-inspired crowd at "The Swamp" on Saturday afternoon to ensure their first sub-.500 season since 1979.
How sure is Foley now? CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler wonders...
So, about that 1,000 percent...— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerCBS) November 23, 2013
Yes, Florida has suffered a laundry list of injuries—10 season-ending injuries, to be exact. Defensive back Marcus Roberson was suspended for the rest of the season and the Gators trotted out third-string quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg for the second straight game.
That doesn't excuse ineptitude, and that's what Florida fans saw from the Gators coaching staff. With 25 seconds to play after a first down swing pass from Mornhinweg to running back Kelvin Taylor fell incomplete, Muschamp used his second timeout of the half despite the fact that the clock was stopped. After using their final timeout after a seven-yard completion on second down, Florida was left with no timeouts and two downs to score.
That extra timeout would have been beneficial to talk over a potential fourth down play.
Barring a complete embarrassment, Muschamp was probably going to keep his job. It's clear that there needs to be a philosophical change on offense, but he can use the rash of injuries as a selling point to buy another season in Gainesville.
Should Will Muschamp be the coach of the Gators in 2014?
But that embarrassment happened on Saturday in his own stadium.
This wasn't a typical Georgia Southern team. The Eagles are usually a power in the Southern Conference, but came into this matchup 6-4 on the season and 4-4 in conference play. They were 0-20 all-time versus FBS competition, didn't complete a single pass against the Gators and rushed for 429 yards.
That is as embarrassing as it gets, and Muschamp agrees according to Nick de la Torre of GatorCountry.com.
Muschamp says he's disappointed for the program and calls this an embarrassment. #Gators— Nick de la Torre (@NickdelaTorreGC) November 23, 2013
Even with all the injuries, Florida should have been able to have its way with Georgia Southern. Those injuries can explain away SEC losses where the margin of error is so thin. That excuse can't be used against a mid-level FCS opponent.
There's also the financial aspect. According to ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy, Florida paid a hefty sum for Georgia Southern to hand it a loss.
$550,000 RT @litt2usf: could you dig up how much Florida paid GA southern to come to the swamp?— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) November 23, 2013
But it gets worse, according to Alicia Jessop of Forbes.
Georgia Southern only spent $479,795 more on its football program last year than what Florida will pay Muschamp this year.— Alicia Jessop (@RulingSports) November 23, 2013
At this point, it's clear that Florida needs to go in a different direction.
Foley needs to call Louisville's Charlie Strong, make him turn the Gators down a few times, and move on if he has to.
The players who are playing have quit on their coach, and that's a poor reflection of the team's leadership.
That leadership needs to be changed.