Now, while we’ve come to love the hire of Agent Muschamp, you do have to wonder what Jeremy Foley was thinking, because it cut against the grain of what’s been successful at Florida.
While it’s easy to criticize with the benefit of hindsight, the hiring of Muschamp really never fit the image of Florida football in the first place. Florida made its name as an innovative program among major colleges, with the Fun ‘n’ Gun and spread option giving the program a defined identity. In between Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer, Florida failed by hiring Ron Zook, a defensive coach and accomplished recruiter who has flamed out as a gameday coach, and now, for the last three years, the reins have been in the hands of Muschamp, the former Texas defensive coordinator who probably would have fit best a Woody Hayes staff. A good head coach is a good head coach, and a good defensive coach could succeed at Florida, in theory. Still, it’s an odd shift in direction, given that the fan base came of age with Florida on the cutting edge of offensive football. It just makes it easier for fans to grow disenchanted with the direction of the program, sooner rather than later.
At this point, Florida’s pinning its hopes on the hire of another Duke offensive guru in Roper. The catch is that while Spurrier was his own man, Roper was managing the Blue Devils offense under the direction of David Cutcliffe, a top-notch offensive mind in his own right. Who’s to say Roper’s ready for what he’s taking on at Florida? It’s not like the Gators haven’t talked a good game before about opening up the offense.
There was a revealing moment in last season’s Florida-Tennessee game, when the one-loss Gators still had delusions of grandeur. Driskel had just been knocked out, and inexperienced Tyler Murphy (who will suit up for Boston College next season) took over. In the midst of one of the season’s sloppiest games, Florida hurried to the line, and CBS play-by-play man Verne Lundquist took note, saying, “Here’s a little bit of that hurry-up,” adding that Florida had said it would use it against the Vols. The next thing he said was that there were five seconds left on the play clock.
It’s one thing to say a philosophy is changing, quite another to put it into practice.
If Roper isn’t the man, let’s hope Foley doesn’t learn from history.