NCAA Football: Trouble in the Swamp

Sam Greenwood

Vanderbilt’s defeat of Florida (first win in Gainesville since 1945) has caused the Florida natives (not the Seminoles) to become restless. South Carolina added to Swampland’s misery on Saturday, putting Florida’s record at 4-6 with five consecutive losses. With games against Georgia Southern (home) and Florida State (home), Florida is facing a possible year without a bowl game in who knows how long.

Will Muschamp is facing growing criticism from everyone except AD Jeremy Foley.  You can read his comments here after the Vanderbilt game.

"As athletic director, I'm a thousand percent convinced that Will Muschamp is the guy to lead this football program,'' Foley said inside his office at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. "Nothing has changed in what we feel about Will Muschamp from the day we hired him."

He's right about the 11-1 season, of course, but failed to mention that his team and the fans failed to show up against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl to the tune of an $800,000 loss from the bowl game. Foley also failed to mention that Florida will have a difficult time getting rid of Muschamp after working out a new deal following the 11-1 season. I've read that it will cost Florida around $10 million to dismiss him.

Brent Pease and his offense are taking the brunt of the criticism (Orlando Sentinel), but you have to ask how he has been successful wherever he's coached except at Florida? Look for Pease to be the sacrificial lamb at the end of the season.  Florida is blaming injuries for the Gators dismal offense (last in the SEC).

I say, "Not so fast, my friend."  Last year, Florida wasn't so great on offense either. Florida's offensive stats for 2011, 2012 and 2013 with their SEC rank are compared below:

2011, 2012 - 2013

Rushing: 143.0 (8th) - 188.1 (3rd) - 151.4 (13th)

Passing: 185.69 (5th) - (146.02 (14th) - 181.4 (12th)

Total Yards: 328.69 (10th) - 334.4 (12th) - 332.8 (14th)

Scoring: 25.46 (8th) - 26.5 (10th) - 19.9 (14th)

I'm sorry, but I don't believe injuries are the real problem down in Gainesville, especially when you consider all the 4 & 5 stars on the team.

Here's Urban Meyer's final and worst season (2010) offensive stats and SEC rank:

Rushing: 166.54 (6th)

Passing: 184.31 (10th)

Total Yards: 350.85 (10th)

Scoring: 29.85 (8th)

Two things pop out: the decline in total yards per game and scoring. The fact is that Will Muschamp, in my opinion, has hamstrung Brent Pease in the belief that having a tough defense and merely an adequate offense is a winning formula. It isn't. Against the Gamecocks, Florida once again got a lead and simply tried to hang on to it. If you look at Alabama, the Tide is balanced on offense and defense.  That's what wins championships. Yesterday, the Tide beat Mississippi State in Starkville in spite of a bunch of turnovers and a McCarron bad hair day. They also came from behind to win the game.

Back to Brent Pease:

In 2002, Pease was UK's OC under Guy Morris and UK ranked 9th in the SEC in Total Offense. Pease followed Morris to Baylor and was the OC from 2003-2005. Baylor was last in total offense in the Big 12 his first year. In 2004, the Bears were again last in the Big 12 in total offense. In 2005, Pease took the Baylor offense up to 3rd in the Big 12 in total offense before moving on to Boise State as WR coach. In 2011, he was promoted to OC and Boise State led the Mountain West conference in total offense and was ranked 9th in the nation. Muschamp hired him for the 2012 season at Florida. When asked what Gator fans could expect, here's what One Bronco Under God writers had to say to Alligator Army.

Back to Will Muschamp:

It isn't just Will Muschamp's offense that is suffering. It is also his recruiting. In Urban Meyer's final season his final class was ranked # 2 by Rivals. Meyer had four 5 stars and 18 four stars commit to Florida. In the next 3 years, Muschamp's classes have dropped in the rankings as shown below.

2011 - Rivals had Florida at #12 with no 5 stars and eleven 4 stars.  7 of the 19 recruits were for the defense. On offense Florida signed 4 star Jeff Driskel.

2012 - Florida's class was ranked #3 with three 5 stars and eleven 4 stars. 13 of the 23 recruits were for the defense. On offense, the Gators signed 5 star D.J. Humpries (OL).  They also signed 4 star RB Matt Jones, 4 star OL Jess Dunker, 4 star WR Latroy Pittman, two 4 star tight end and 3 star QB Skyler Mornhiweg.

2013 - Florida's class was ranked #4 with two 5 stars and fourteen 4 stars. 15 of the 25 recruits were for the defense. On offense, Florida signed no noteworthy players. The 5 OLs signed were all 3 stars.

While this recruiting cycle doesn't end until Signing Day in February, Florida's class currently ranks 14th with no 5 stars and ten 4 stars. Seven of his 15 recruits are defensive players. On offense, four of the recruits are 4 stars and only one of those is an OL. While these are all recruiting classes that Kentucky can envy, consider this from Urban Meyer's first class to his last:

2005 - #15 - no 5 stars and eight 4 stars. 7 of the 18 recruits were for the defense

2006 - #2 - four 5 stars and seventeen 4 stars. 11 of the 27 recruits were for the defense. On offense 5 stars Percy Harvin, Carl Johnson (OL) and Tim Tebow signed with the Gators

2007 - #1 - four 5 stars and sixteen 4 stars. 13 of the 27 recruits were for the defense. On offense, the Gators signed 5 stars Cam Newton and James Wilson (OL), and the following 4 stars: Chris Rainey, and the Pouncy twins (OL)

2008 - #3 - four 5 stars and twelve 4 stars. 10 of the 22 recruits were for the defense. In offense, Florida signed 4 star Jeff Demps

2009 - #11 - three 5 stars and nine 4 stars. 6 of the 16 recruits were for the defense. Five recruits were for the OL alone. They signed 5 star WR Andre Debose for the offense.

2010 - #2 - four 5 stars and eighteen 4 stars. 14 of the 28 recruits were for the defense. On offense they signed 4 star RB Mack Brown.

The difference is subtle. In Meyer's first three years, he signed eight 5 star players and forty-one 4 stars. In Muschamp's first three years, he signed five 5 star players and thirty-six 4 stars.

While Foley says he backs Muschamp 1000%, that's usually the kiss of death.  Muschamp currently ranks #3 at the Coaches Hot Seat. They've even blogged about his demise and compared his situation to Lane Kiffen's (that may be a stretch because Muschamp is a likeable guy). It is noted that Steve Spurrier wants Muschamp to stay at Florida. I don't think it is because South Carolina beat Florida for the third time in four years. Of course not (eyes are rolling). You just have to love the Ol' Ball Coach, especially after he pulled one out Saturday.

My question for the readers is how long do you think Muschamp will last? And, when he goes who do you think Florida will hire? If Pease is fired at the end of the season, who will Muschamp pick as his offensive coordinator? Inquiring minds want to know.

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