Will Muschamp was the only candidate offered the head coaching position at Florida, according to Muschamp’s new boss, Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley.
For someone who has never been a head coach at any level, it was a tremendous vote of confidence. But it appears it was one Foley never thought twice about casting for the 39-year-old Muschamp.
"We wanted a candidate who was respected by his players and his peers, and we wanted someone who had a passion for the University of Florida,” Foley said in a statement. “Coach Muschamp is all of those things and more."
Indeed, the fiery Muschamp does bring plenty to the table in Gainesville, all of which were bountiful enough to blanket the one huge hole in his résumé. At least that’s the way Foley sees it.
Here’s how I see it.
What Muschamp Does Give the Gators
The Gators wanted a guy who could infuse every aspect of the program with energy and a youthful exuberance, both of which—save for the occasional outburst at the media or loving embrace with Tim Tebow—were obscured at times by Urban Meyer’s predominantly stoic behavior.
Energy won’t be a problem with Muschamp.
His propensity for celebratory charades on the sideline has been apparent at LSU, Auburn and most recently Texas.
Players love playing for him. The enthusiasm is infectious, and the appreciation Muschamp’s players have for his coaching style is reflected in numbers.
During Muschamp’ stints as defensive coordinator at Auburn and Texas, which spanned 2007 through this past season, his unit ranked worse than 19th nationally in total defense just once. The lone exception was 2008, Muschamp’s first season in Austin, when the Longhorns allowed 343 yards per game but finished the season 18th in scoring defense (18.8).
Coaches enjoy working with Muschamp. Thus the ringing endorsements from Mack Brown and Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher, with whom Muschamp worked on Nick Saban’s staff at LSU from 2001 to 2004.
A Gainesville, Fla. native and Georgia alum, Muschamp is SEC material. He understands the culture and the landscape, as well as the consequences that come with not fulfilling expectations.
He just fits. That is, unless, you feel his defensive pedigree won’t help in remedying the Gators’ ills on offense.
To the contrary, Muschamp will assemble a solid staff, with former colleague Major Applewhite potentially as his offensive coordinator. He and his assistants will have little trouble sustaining the recruiting momentum generated by Meyer.
In fact, with Muschamp’s connections in Texas, which have produced a slew of ESPNU 150 blue-chippers, the Gators’ presence on the recruiting trail may have gotten more formidable.
What He Doesn’t Bring to the Gators
Not much, but it’s considerable.
No experience as a head coach—and certainly not enough experience overall to warrant a salary reportedly worth $2.5 million, which is more than double his $900,000 annual wage at Texas.
Florida could have realistically shelled out less money for an Al Golden or Randy Edsall, two candidates with a combined 17 years worth of head coaching experience.
Formerly the highest-paid assistant in college football, Muschamp will now be one of the most well-compensated head coaches in the most lucrative conference in the nation—all before he oversees a single snap at Florida.
With that kind of price tag, what is a reasonable return on investment? At a program like Florida, it’s usually a national championship.