Urban Meyer is now 50 years old. That’s clearly something to celebrate, especially when you’ve had as many “conditions” as he’s had.
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
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]cratch one name from the list of potential offensive line candidates at Alabama and add another.
Nick Saban had a strong interest in South Carolina running game coordinator and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott, but Elliott has informed Steve Spurrier that he will remain with the Gamecocks.
“It was a great honor to be considered for a coaching position at the University of Alabama, but I feel it’s in the best interest of me and my family to remain at South Carolina,” Elliott told Andrew Gribble of al.com. “We’ve had a lot of success here over the past three years and I’m committed to being part of that continued success for many years. I’m proud to be a Gamecock.”
You can add the name of former Florida International head coach and current Miami tight ends coach Mario Cristobal to the list of candidates. Cristobal arrived in Tuscaloosa on Thursday and will interview with Saban today.
Cristobal, who inherited an incredibly difficult situation and a frustrating administration at FIU, was fired on Dec. 5 after six seasons as head coach.
On Jan. 10, Cristobal was named associate head coach and tight ends coach on Al Golden’s staff at Miami. However, a source tells us that Cristobal was not excited about returning to his alma mater and would accept a position on Saban’s staff if offered.
Central Florida offensive line coach and Alabama native Brent Key interviewed for the position earlier this week and may be the leading candidate.
Former Alabama offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who left last month to join Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles’ staff, made $395,000 last year.
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e talked about Pat Hill’s possible return to the college game in an article this morning, but there are at least two more names to watch out for to replace Jeff Stoutland as Alabama’s offensive line coach.
A source tells us that Nick Saban likes South Carolina’s Shawn Elliott and Central Florida’s Brent Key as potential candidates.
Elliott has been part of Steve Spurrier’s staff since 2010, beginning as offensive line coach and later adding the running game coordinator title. He is considered a potential successor to Spurrier as the Gamecocks’ head coach, but spending time under Saban is considered a pretty clear path to a head coaching job in its own right.
A four-year letterman at Appalachian State, Elliott reportedly turned down an opportunity to replace Jerry Moore as the Mountaineers’ head coach in December. Elliott makes $300,000 per year at Carolina, and Appalachian State was not going to be able to pay him enough to lure him away.
Following his playing career, Elliott began coaching at Appalachian State in 1997. He spent two years as a defensive assistant then two years as tight ends coach before taking over as offensive line coach in 2001. Over the next nine seasons, Elliott coached 12 All-Americans and three-consecutive SoCon Jacobs Blocking Trophy recipients.
A 2012 Broyles Award nominee, Key has spent the past eight seasons at UCF, the past four as offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. Before the 2012 season, he was promoted to assistant head coach. Key was previously the Knights’ tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.
Key is a native of Trussville, Ala. and was a four-year starter at Georgia Tech under UCF head coach George O’Leary. He began his coaching career at Georgia Tech in 2001 as the offensive graduate assistant, and later coached tight ends and running backs at Western Carolina (2004) before being reunited with O’Leary at Central Florida in 2005.
Saban reached out to newly-hired Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman, but Pittman chose to remain with the Razorbacks.
Other names mentioned with the job are former UAB head coach Neil Callaway and current Georgia offensive line coach Will Friend. Both Callaway and Friend played at Alabama and Saban’s staff is currently without a Bama alum, but sources indicate Calloway and Friend are not leading candidates at this point.