GAINESVILLE -- It was nice. It was (probably) necessary. It changes little.
Ultimately, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley’s platitude-filled word salad vote of confidence Wednesday afternoon hardly moved the needle for embattled coach Will Muschamp’s future.
Again, it was nice.
But the prevailing sentiment in recent weeks -- even after a third-straight loss to Georgia -- was that Muschamp’s job was safe for 2014.
Yes, the Vanderbilt defeat was humiliating, catastrophic and [enter any hyperbole and multiply it by 1000. Hey just like Foley!!!], but to think one loss should suddenly change Foley’s judgment on a coach is myopic and stupid.
Foley’s declaration was bold, but hardly tangible and definitely not black or white.
Muschamp is 22-13 at Florida with a fluky, funky, fortunate 11-2 season sandwiched between his tough first season as a head coach (7-6) and now Florida’s worst fall campaign since the Iranian hostage crisis.
There’s little need to rehash Muschamp’s line-by-line resume, but it’s suffice to say, he’s breaking too many wrong records. Florida’s third-year head coach is a defensive savant, but he’s presided over an offense even masochists find appalling. Florida’s program might’ve been “broken” in 2010, but it wasn’t devoid of talent -- as so many experts wailed.
To date, Muschamp’s credentials as a bonifide CEO remain unknown -- a frightening proposition for a school with such history and resources.
Significant issues with talent evaluation, player development and, yes, basic wins and losses (even with so many injuries this year) have led to Muschamp’s comeuppance.
It appears when not if he’s no longer the head coach of the Gators.
And yet, maybe not and that’s what makes Foley’s PR move so interesting.
Foley’s “1000 percent convinced” could be one-billionth percent, but it doesn’t change Muschamp’s murky future.
But if taken literally??? Foley could be committing to Muschamp well past 2014 -- even with a third (out of four) rebuilding season in sight.
Staff changes appear in order -- although Foley’s comment about UF’s Sugar Bowl season at least hints this too may fall in the grey -- but that’s a slippery slope that almost always leads to the head coach seeking future employment too.
While conventional wisdom says what should be done eventually must be done immediately, [COVER YOUR EYES AND EARS, GATOR NATION] there’s a chance additional staff turnover could only further exacerbate the problems in the present. So how long is Foley willing to wait on the future?
How long is that rope? Is the investment -- and chance Muschamp does develop into a great CEO -- worth doubling-down?
While many have called Muschamp’s pressure Zookian -- they’re wrong. It’s worse. Florida won two national championships after Ron Zook was not-so-kindly asked to exit stage left.
The malaise surrounding Florida’s program is part Muschamp’s bunker-mentality and part unbridled delusion of a fan base. After losing just seven games in a ridiculous four-year stretch, Florida’s lost 18 games (and counting) in the four seasons since. That’s as many as Texas and more than Virginia Tech (15), Michigan (14), Kansas State (15) or Nebraska (15). The Gator Nation considers itself a class above all those teams.
Even with a pair of beatdowns looming, Muschamp -- with all the injuries, one-season removed from a BCS appearance and his yearly recruiting exploits -- deserves a fourth year, but the lame duck questions won’t go away.
A ringing endorsement from one of the nation’s most powerful ADs simply confirmed the consensus for this offseason, but 2014 is still shaping up to be a tumultuous year in Gainesville.
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