After seeing Florida fail to put away South Carolina on Saturday, Will Muschamp will no longer be in charge of turning things around in Gainesville. Sports Illustrated is reporting Sunday morning the head coach of the Gators has been dismissed. A national search for a new head coach at Florida will be underway. Muschamp will reportedly coach the final two games of the season, according to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com.
It started to look as though Muschamp was going to have enough of a case to return for the 2015 season after Florida escaped Tennessee with a win and after upsetting Georgia in Jacksonville. The writing may have been on the wall, and letting one slip away to South Carolina was the final straw.
In four years as head coach Florida, Muschamp was 27-20. The Gators went to and won the Gator Bowl in Muschamp’s first season in Gainesville taking over for Urban Meyer. The downfall of the program began the following season after going 11-1 before being blow out by Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. Florida went 4-8 in 2013 and is now looking at a likely .500 season in 2014.
Florida will be one of the top jobs available on the coaching carousel, and the program should be able to attract some worthy candidates for the job. Dan Mullen of Mississippi State remains one of the more popular names on the Florida fans’ wish list, and for good reason. Despite a loss to Alabama, Mullen has shown an ability to build a program that can compete for the SEC title. Mullen is also a former Florida assistant, so his familiarity with the program makes him a solid candidate for the job. Other former Florida assistants include Charlie Strong (Texas) and Steve Addazio (Boston College). Strong is probably off the table, but Addazio would be interesting. Addazio also left Florida on a bit of a sour note it seemed, at least in the eyes of some.
Muschamp is very likely to be working next season, although the likely path will be as a defensive coordinator.
UPDATED 5:44 p.m. ET: Florida confirmed in a press release that Muschamp will step down as head coach at the conclusion of the 2014 regular season. Make no mistake, though; this was not a resignation as athletic director Jeremy Foley “informed Muschamp of the decision Sunday morning.”
That decision means that Muschamp was in fact dismissed from the position he had held since December of 2010. Below are the statements from both Foley and Muschamp, beginning with the now-unemployed head coach…
“I appreciate the opportunity that has been offered to me and my family by Dr. Machen, Jeremy Foley and the University of Florida. I was given every opportunity to get it done here and I simply didn’t win enough games – that is the bottom line. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get it done and it is my responsibility to get it done. I have no bitter feelings, but this is a business and I wish we would have produced better results on the field. We have a great group of players and a staff that is committed to this University and this football program. They have handled themselves with class and I expect them to continue to do so. As I’ve said many times, life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond.”
… and ending with a man who will be under intense scrutiny as he attempts to hire someone to bring the football program back to national prominence…
“Upon evaluation of our football program, we are not where the program needs to be and should be. I’ve always said that our goal at the University of Florida is to compete for championships on a regular basis. Coach Muschamp was dedicated to developing young men both on and off the field. Our student athletes showed tremendous growth socially and academically under his leadership. His players were involved in campus activities, engaged with the local community and represented the University of Florida with pride.
“I will be forever grateful to Will and his staff for their unwavering commitment to the University of Florida and the mission of our athletic program. He will be missed by everyone in our athletic department – from the people that worked in his office to the people that painted the fields. Will knew everyone and they knew him and everyone in the building loved working with him. Will is as fine a man as you will ever meet, and I will always cherish our relationship with him and his family.”