Steve Spurrier went 9-4 and won the Gator Bowl in his third season at Florida. The HBC won 9 and 10 his first years.
Ron Zook went 7-4 and was fired in the middle of his third season. However, it was obvious that he had recruited great players and it’d only be a matter of time before they’d compete for championships. (Zook recruited 22 of 24 starters on Urban Meyer’s 2006 National Championship team.) Zook’s tenure ended as the Gators beat FSU in Tallahassee, something even Steve Spurrier never did.
Urban Meyer went 9-4 in his third season. That’s after winning 9 in his first and the national championship in his second.
Will Muschamp went 7-6 in his first season, 11-2 in his second and is currently 4-3 in the middle of his third. The Gators gave one away at Miami, didn’t play well at LSU and were blown out at Mizzou. With Georgia, Vandy, South Carolina, Georgia Southern and FSU remaining, it’s not out of the question that Florida could have it’s first losing season since 1979.
Sources inside the program tell us there’s a lot of division on the team and teammates beginning to point fingers. Florida AD Jeremy Foley gave Muschamp a vote of confidence earlier this week, saying his coach is “not going anywhere.” For what it’s worth, he told Ron Zook he was “in the circle” and on “on the same team” the Friday before he fired him. So, his public support for Muschamp should be taken with a grain of salt.
We talked with a number of coaches this week and they all told us the same thing. They don’t see a lot of “energy” on the sideline and they don’t see the kinds of playmakers Florida has had in the past.
Muschamp deserves another year to get it fixed — but expect staff changes if he does. The head coach gave offensive coordinator Brent Pease a half-hearted vote of confidence this week, saying “This is the same staff that came a game away from playing for national championship, OK.” Well, Greg Davis was fired at Texas four seasons after winning the national championship and one season after winning 13 games and playing for another.
Assuming Muschamp is around after this season, Foley will insist on staff changes and you can take that to the bank. Sources close to Foley tell us he has had thoughts that maybe he pulled the plug too soon on Zook — and that he seems determined to give Muschamp a longer leash.
However, if the Gators implode down the stretch, don’t be shocked to see Foley do what Foley does best: protect himself. Just ask Ron Zook.
There has been chatter around Central Florida coach George O’Leary for some time. He had a player die on his watch and the Knights landed on NCAA probation. That’s not to mention his prickly personality — he’s not exactly warm and fuzzy. But fast forward to the present and UCF could land in a BCS Bowl as winners of the new AAC.
Duke has never been to back to back bowls, but David Cutcliffe has the Blue Devils one win away from being bowl-eligible for the second consecutive year. Things may look better now with Hugh Freeze at the helm, but maybe firing him at Ole Miss one season removed from winning ten games wasn’t such a smart move after all.
After a one-year respite, there are rumblings again at Georgia. If the Bulldogs lose to Florida, watch out. One prominent coach told us today that the coach that loses that game could lose his job. Cocktails, anyone?
Photo credit: Dave Martin, AP