Florida Football: New OC Kurt Roper a High Risk, High Reward Hire

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterDecember 26, 2013

USA Today

Florida head coach Will Muschamp needs a one-year turnaround to keep his job in Gainesville, and he's tying his fate to a school that paved the way for the greatest coach in Florida history.

The Duke Blue Devils.

Duke was where former head coach Steve Spurrier cut his teeth as a head coach prior to joining his alma mater before the 1990 season, and it is where new Gator offensive coordinator Kurt Roper spent the last six seasons on David Cutcliffe's staff in Durham, N.C.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp
Florida head coach Will MuschampKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Muschamp is excited about the opportunity for Roper to kick-start the Gator offense.

"I'm excited to have Coach Roper join our staff," Muschamp said according to GatorZone.com's Scott Carter. "He has a diverse, up-tempo background on offense and does a good job of adapting to what the players do best. The most important thing though is he has always remained balanced."

Roper has enjoyed a tremendous career as an innovative offensive mind, guiding quarterbacks to five 3,000-yard seasons and producing four 1,000-yard receivers at Duke—something that hasn't been done at Florida since Taylor Jacobs did it in 2002.

It's a big risk for Roper and Florida because while his track record of developing quarterbacks and using an up-tempo system is nice, quarterback is a position that has been a sore spot for the program ever since Tim Tebow moved on following the 2009 season.

Florida QB Jeff Driskel
Florida QB Jeff DriskelSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Rising senior Jeff Driskel will likely be the starter when toe meets leather in 2014. The dual-threat quarterback from Oviedo, Fla., has dual-threat capabilities that will help him thrive in a system that's better suited for him. Sure, Will Grier—a 5-star quarterback in the 247Sports.com composite—could get a look. But if we're talking about a one-year turnaround, will Muschamp really want to tie his fate to a true freshman quarterback? Probably not.

If Florida is going to turn things around in a hurry, the adaptation is going to have to be a two-way street.

Kurt Roper's offenses at Duke

The risk is especially great on Roper's side. 

He had a good thing going with the Blue Devils, and now he's coming back to the SEC in a situation where he absolutely must turn things around in one year; otherwise, he'll be looking for new work again next December.

That's exactly why Florida will make it worth his while, according to Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun.

Roper will make $600,000 a year, The Sun has learned.

— Robbie Andreu (@RobbieAndreu) December 26, 2013

The reward could be huge for both parties.

Florida has the athletes to be successful, and Roper's up-tempo style and track record of adapting to personnel on the roster will allow athletes to be athletes—and there's no shortage of athletes on Florida's roster. 

If he can get Florida back to a competitive level in one year in the SEC, he will quickly become a legend in Gainesville.

The "win-now" mentality coupled with a new offensive scheme and several stars returning from injuries should make the next 12 months quite a ride in the Sunshine State. 


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