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Florida Gator Football:
It’s not you, it’s me

Written by Christopher Scammell, November 20, 2014, 25 Comments,
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We have all been through something in our lives be it a friendship, professional acquaintance, or relationship where for whatever reason just wasn’t working. After some time, the tension builds and finally some event occurs that alters or destroys the relationship. Finally, after the event, we sit down for the “talk”.

For Gator fans locked in a long-term dysfunctional relationship with Will Muschamp, the event that changed things was when Dylan Thompson crossed the goal line in overtime on Saturday. The “talk” finally came on Sunday afternoon.

Over the last few days I have been checking the message boards on Gator Country and following the rumors on Twitter regarding the speculation of the next person that will coach the Gators football team. The next few weeks will provide lots of excitement and hope to a resigned and apathetic fan base. However, part of me feels dirty and ashamed at the firing of Will Muschamp; I feel like a shallow hypocrite.

Over the years, Seinfeld and many other shows have made their living on exploiting the shallowness of our culture. However, Seinfeld delivered us the now-seemingly ubiquitous, “it’s not you, it’s me” mantra. With Jeremy Foley as our mouthpiece, Gator fans told this Muschamp, “Sorry, but, it’s not you, it’s me.” As a collective, we were unhappy with the amount of wins and style of football produced at Florida in the Muschamp era. Well, in the case of Will Muschamp’s departure, maybe it was us and not him.

By all accounts, Will Muschamp is respected and revered by his own players. If you ever go on Twitter it has been a non-stop love-fest pouring from his players since Sunday afternoon. They clearly love and respect Muschamp.

The coaching fraternity also seems to adore and respect Muschamp. The Godfather of Gator football, Stephen Orr Spurrier, openly sympathized with Will Muschamp, after he beat him on Saturday. Additionally, most commentators and pundits feel he will have no problem finding work after the FSU game. In fact, many feel there will be no shortage of programs that may line up for his services as a defensive coordinator.

Moreover, one of the latent fears embedded in the Gator fan base was that Muschamp might go to a rival and light up our offenses on an annual basis. No one likes to coach against a coach with a chip on his shoulder. Since he is very close to both Jimbo Fisher and Steve Spurrier, it is a very distinct possibility. Those fears may very well become a nightmare scenario for Gator fans.

Many fans on the Gator Country message boards espouse how much they want a high character coach to lead the Gators. In fact, many go so far as to negate the candidacies of many coaches based on real or perceived character flaws. Will Muschamp came to Florida without the slightest hint of a character issue. More importantly, he leaves this program without the hint of any impropriety.

Gator fans want a clean program. Will Muschamp gave Gator fans a clean program without the character issues that had become common place under Urban Meyer. When Urban Meyer phoned in the 2010 season and mounting problems within the locker room led him resign to “spend more time with his family”, someone had to clean up the mess. Someone had to come in and address the entitlement issues and take responsibility of the player conduct issues.

However, Gator fans wanted explosive offenses that ran up and down the field on opponents and won by 30-point margins with stifling defense. Moreover, we wanted a seamless transition from the Meyer regime to the Muschamp era.

In short, Gator fans want perfection. We want it all and we want it now! We are Veruca Salt. We are not the first football fan or the last football fans to become Veruca Salt, but we are the most current visible ones and that perception may or may not shade the next coach’s decision to come to Florida.

No one argues or contends that Will Muschamp lacked character or many other important factors desired as a head coach. In fact, no one really seems to argue that he is a bad coach; it is that he wasn’t a great head coach. The sole reason for Muschamp’s dismissal, which Muschamp and Foley agreed on, was Muschamp did not win enough football games. However, if that is the single issue that ended Muschamp’s time at Florida, shouldn’t we ask ourselves some important questions?

The Gator fan base needs to accept that the Spurrier years, when we won conference championships seemingly at will without the taint of controversy, was a black swan event; a rare high-profile event, beyond the normal expectations, which we have rationalized as if it could be expected. That was a rare and precious time to be a Florida Gator and even Meyer with his two National Championships could not duplicate what it felt like to be a Gator during the 1990s. Those championships, while wonderful, will never hold the cache of the 1996 National Championship with Spurrier, the prodigal son, who against long odds led us to the Promised Land.

Sure, we had success in the 1980s, but we also were placed on probation multiple times and narrowly escaped the dreaded NCAA death penalty in 1990. In retrospect, when Spurrier took over in 1990, success wasn’t guaranteed, assured or assumed. He was taking over a “dirty” program mired in NCAA penalties. That is part of Florida’s past that we rarely talk about, but is something we should always keep in mind.

Additionally, we need to look no further than Meyer’s tenure to confirm that winning in the ultra-competitive SEC comes at a price. Meyer’s teams, while talented, had many festering issues under the surface regarding player entitlement, covering up positive drug-tests, the “Circle of Trust”, and other issues regarding player conduct. In fact, when Janoris Jenkins was kicked off the team by Will Muschamp he said openly, that if Meyer had still been the coach he would still be playing for the Gators. The hard truth is that the success during Meyer’s time with the Gators came at a price. Maybe the price was our current football purgatory and the sacrifice of another coach at the altar of the football gods.

In short, I am saying that we can’t have it all without balance and patience. Even the head ball coach hasn’t duplicated his magical success at Florida in the NFL or at South Carolina. The expectations at Florida seem to be unattainable because even the man, who attained them, can’t match them.

So what do Gator fans want?

One needs to look no farther than FSU to see what a program run without principles looks like. No one wants that. Do we want Bama? No we tried that with Muschamp, no one can do what Bama does without the endless stream of five-star recruits they rack up every year. Additionally, rational people could argue that Bama has actually underachieved in regards to the talent stockpiled in Tuscaloosa. Besides, Gator fans didn’t like the Saban brand of football in 2012 when the Gators successfully ran it.

So we look towards the football heavens with stars in our eyes, for the home-run hire; this fictional coach that is a top-notch recruiter, an offensive genius, will turn the program around in a season or two, a high-character guy, runs a clean program, isn’t older than 45, has head coaching experience at a successful high-profile big 5 school, and will stay at the program for 30 years. It is odd to me that no one seems to understand why this might be a down year for coaching candidates. In any year, the candidate pool for a coach like that is virtually non-existent.

Therefore, we are chasing a black swan. The success of Meyer only solidified the mentality; it was only after his success that we realized that the program was not what some had perceived it to be. However, the problem is that no one has scaled back their expectations despite the revelations.

Now before all the trolls come out telling me that I have a loser’s mentality; I am not saying that Muschamp’s tenure was successful on the field. You can’t lose games like Mizzou and South Carolina anywhere. Muschamp needed more time to grow into the role of a head coach. The anti-Muschamp crowd was right about that; Florida is not a place where you get to learn to be a head coach. The mistake Foley made with Muschamp happened four years ago, not last year or this year.

I am also not claiming Florida is a terrible place to coach or that we cannot duplicate past success, what I am saying is that we should have a focus on balancing our interests in winning and the other aspects of the program. When the sole focus becomes championships, then we need to examine the role that football plays in our lives. If winning is all that matters then we are Penn State, Bama, and Florida State. I like to think that the University of Florida’s mission is broader than simply winning football games.

Moreover, I am not willing to label Muschamp’s time a Florida a failure. Muschamp did a lot of heavy lifting for the next coach. If you don’t think Florida’s program was a mess when Meyer, then left you are kidding yourself. Whoever comes in will benefit from Muschamp’s hard work in cleaning up the image of the program and creating a cohesive locker room. Finally, there is talent on this team; it may not be Bama talent; but it’s good enough talent to win the SEC East.

Regardless of who we hire, the Gator Nation needs to take a hard look at itself and its expectations for its football program. We all want success, but no one wants a program with a win at all costs mentality. Building a program requires patience and balance; something that has been in short supply because of our past successes. However, in addition to past successes, we need to look at as past failures as a guide to how we want to run the program as well.

Success takes time and I am sure anyone that comes to Florida will want to make some changes. In that vein, the new hire needs the permission to fail a few times before success because the process to rebuild this team may take a couple of seasons depending on what new offensive and defensive systems, if any, are installed in the spring. Changing things over and over again could lead to a vicious cycle; we need to be careful

Moreover, a reassessment of our core values as fans may be in order. When a person like Will Muschamp is vilified so deeply for the simple matter of not winning football games, perhaps a deeper philosophical examination of what is, or what is not, important in the larger game of life may be in order. Perhaps, in a few years as Muschamp strides off the sideline as a victorious opposing coach Gator fans will be wishing that we never told him that, “it’s not you, it’s me.”

About Christopher Scammell

Christopher has followed Gator football since he stepped on campus in January 1994. After getting degrees from the University of Florida in 1997 he attended law school at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and graduated in 2000. He currently owns a construction business with his father and two brothers and practices law in Stuart, Florida. He brings plenty of experience to his writing as an arm chair quarterback and professional second-guesser with the extraordinary ability of hindsight. Christopher enjoys his free time reading, writing, and spending time with friends and family. Follow him on twitter @clscammell.

  1. jln31222November 20, 2014, 7:29 am

    Like you, I know WM has done many good deeds for our school which includes the Gator football team. I praise him for that. However, and here it comes, a head coach at UF is hired because the search and hire group believe he can keep us in the race for a National Title. That being determined, the rest of what they want comes into play. Other successful head coaches always heap praise on a fired brother coach who is high charactor, hard working etc.
    The question of why he could not win enough games in being skirted. We all know the answer, I for one, don’t like to dwell on it. His coaching philosophy, everything he must do to win at this level in this era of college football fatally flawed. You and I know this. And, the biggest, worst flaw which we saw repeated over and over again because he cannot change what he does to win which makes him lose. It is not because he is stubborn. It is all about he can’t change his thought process without help. It’s a condition. It happens to other people in different jobs. WM can only do a portion of what a head coach has to do . Defense,and the importance of that has diminished. Special teams and offense are now as important as defense. A n excellent DC is no longer as important as he used to be. I think WM has helped the team in other ways. However, you know how it goes.

    • Christopher ScammellNovember 20, 2014, 9:06 am

      This was not a defense of his tenure.

      I freely acknowledge that he didn’t get enough wins and that there often debatable coaching decisions. We are all acknowledging that not enough wins was the only reason for his departure. Perhaps that says more about us as a fan base than it says about Muschamp or any other coach.

      If winning is the most important thing in this program, then let’s acknowledge it for what it is and not hide behind the baloney of hiring a “high character” guy. Let’s hire the coach that gets us the most wins; let’s revert to the Meyer era because that is what a large portion of the fan base truly wants; we simply don’t want to be honest about it.

  2. gatorcattlemanNovember 20, 2014, 8:45 am

    Will receives a 6.3 million dollar buyout which is more than most Professors will make in their life time. I believe The University of Florida has fairly compensated him for his admirable services.

    • Christopher ScammellNovember 20, 2014, 9:11 am

      It’s not about the money. I think you missed the entire point of the article. However, to run with your point; I guess there are worse ways to spend 6.3M on behalf of the University of Florida.

      The point is that Gator fans pay lip service to the idea of integrity when the only reason they fire a coach is merely for not winning enough games. That is a dangerous path to travel.

    • snowprintNovember 20, 2014, 9:16 am

      The coaching profession is one in which you are judged by your record. I think you are living in a fantasy world if you think anything else matters. As a revered coach, Vince Lombardi said: “Winning isn’t everything…it’s the only thing.” Another coach, Bill Parcells, said: “You are what your record says you are.” If you don’t care about the record, I suggest an Ivy league school. But they are also hypocrites. The large endowment they have is partly due to the time when they were football powers and winning was the biggest concern. Now they act like snobs and won’t admit that football is the reason they were able to turn their noses up at the rest of America in the first place. Will Muschamp is a mediocre football coach, that’s what his record says he is. I know all the nice things said about him now, but the bottom line is he is isn’t a good football coach, at least head coach. UF should not feel guilty, unlike you, for expecting a head coach to be better than mediocre. If you accept mediocre, that’s what you’ll get.

  3. mongoNovember 20, 2014, 9:28 am

    Chris,
    Good analysis and I think you have done a better job of capturing some of the real issues affecting the Gators than most of your peers. This is a different college football world than when Steve first came to Florida as the head coach. Not only do I see a dearth of stellar coaching talent available out there right now but I think we of the Gator Nation may be our worst enemy because of the perception that some candidates may have of unrealistic fan expectations. We are definitely a spoiled group that has the great fortune of having not only the most successful group of coaches across all programs but arguably the program with the highest integrity.

    I may be the only one but I frankly have been impressed with Muschamp’s ability to adapt and change while he has been here and I am confident that his offensive short comings will be corrected, somewhere. He is a student of the game and I think he is pretty good at critically evaluating his own performance. Given his competitive nature, I predict that he will hold out for another chance at a head coaching job and that school will be a better program as a result. We may even see him back in the SEC as a head coach at some point in his career.

    I think that after the unavoidable disaster of last year’s season (as a predictable result of the insurmountable injuries) that Muschamp just could not breakout of the “play not to lose and save my job” mode. But for whatever reason the Swamp Karma certainly did not look favorably on him during his tenure here and I think most of wish him great success wherever he goes.

    • Christopher ScammellNovember 20, 2014, 10:24 am

      I have discussed this with many people…Muschamp might have been the unluckiest coach to ever grace our sideline. Granted, I agree that there were also some questionable decisions from a coaching stand point.

      However, I think there are larger systemic issues within college football that have changed the game. No one wants to acknowledge that it has gotten harder to win and we haven’t adjusted our expectations. That is not a loser mentality, it is simply the truth. Do we want to be Florida or Florida State? If wins are the only thing that matter than let’s be honest about it.

    • snowprintNovember 20, 2014, 11:02 am

      No one is going to hire Will Muschamp as a head coach. He is a failure at being a head coach. I wonder if reality ever darkens the doors of some of you. For those of you who criticize FSU, I think you’re wrong. Fisher has done nothing that doesn’t say integrity. The fact, if you’re interested in facts, is that Jameis Winston has not done anything to get in a huff about. He doesn’t have a criminal record, that’s a fact. The fact is that Fisher standing up for Winston in the ace of the witch hunt has shown great character. Unlike UF, which threw Treon Harris under the bus without cause, Fisher has stood by his players until facts, not allegations, prove otherwise. It has not gone unnoticed. Believe it or not, minority people have been, and continue to be, unfairly portrayed and persecuted. They can see a witch hunt quite clearly. In fact, remember we are dealing with facts, Fisher’s support of his players has been cited by two recent high profile recruits, Jaques Patrick and Malik Henry, parents as part of the reason they chose FSU. They want someone to support their children, not throw them under the bus like UF did, if their child is wrongly accused. So you can get on your high horse all you want and say that UF has more integrity than FSU, the facts don’t agree with you. What UF did with Treon Harris was cowardly and don’t think for a minute that it wasn’t noticed how the thought of taking care of Harris was abandoned the minute UF’s reputation was in danger. Parents did notice that and they , whether you like it or not, like Fisher’s support much better.

  4. Christopher ScammellNovember 20, 2014, 10:36 am

    Snowprint, thank you Captain Obvious; but Lombardi was talking about professional football players, played by players for a paycheck. Same for Parcells. As a University we have a larger mission. What I want fans to be honest about is that it is about wins and losses…let’s not say integrity matters more than winning because it clearly doesn’t.

    • snowprintNovember 20, 2014, 11:19 am

      It doesn’t matter if it’s professional or college. A coach is judged by his record. That’s a silly argument that college and the NFL are different in that respect. You can have integrity and still win. There are countless examples of this, but integrity should never be used as an excuse for losing. Your implication that winning and integrity can’t mesh is demonstrably false.

  5. gwaderNovember 20, 2014, 11:06 am

    To put it in another Seinfeld type analogy, champ was our rebound chick. Just like Zook was our rebound chick after our true love in spurrier, Will was our rebound, comfortable, safe girlfriend follow to Urban. One that you would definitely say it’s not you it’s me too, “not that there’s anything wrong with that,” but now it’s time to go find our 3rd future ex-wife. If we want to compete with the monster that we have created when Champ joins SOS @ USCe, & why not take Lawing back there as well, might as well throw T-Rob in to sell some S FL speed on Steve’s offense. The recruiting, as well as the product on the field would be scary good. Hell, who knows after we bring in a stud to compete with that, he will no doubt get an NFL itch or realize he’s done some questionable things to win and have such bad anxiety attacks worrying about the ramifications, that they have to leave for medical conditions, maybe by then SOS has rounded Champ into a complete ball coach & we try to get him back. Of course by then he will take over for a 70 plus year old Spurrier. Hire Dan Quinn & watch him hire Baylor’s OC to run an offense that would score so much Quinn could send the house after opposing QB’s because they would always be playing catch up. I think Quinn was to Champ as Gus Malzahn was to Gene Chizak at Auburn, that is the real reason for their only successful season. The professionalism that his NFL experience brings. A great example of why I say that were his halftime adjustments during the 2012 season. I’ve never seen anyone utilize their systems & assistants to be that dominate in the 2nd half of every game. It takes organization & systems to be that consistent & I believe Quinn is smart enough to hire the right people to surround himself with people that make up for his weaknesses. Much like Gary Patterson has done with TCU. Hint hint. Better not just hire offensive mind because with Champ in SC with Steve they will be sound on both sides of the ball. I know many of you will say I’m crazy but we’ll see.

    • Christopher ScammellNovember 20, 2014, 12:03 pm

      I like your style and way of thinking…but no one on Gator Country wants a coordinator with no head coaching experience (sarcasm), even if it may be the right guy to lead the program. We have a check list of awesomeness for the next guy and he better get it done this spring.

  6. spike718November 20, 2014, 11:13 am

    Snowprint- the rest of the nation is wrong about fsu and the tpd. We get it. In response to your comment regarding the parents of the recruits who praised Jimbo for backing his kids…. Mafia families back up and don’t rat on family members who beat, steal, and kill people and hard core gangsters never rat on their boys- they are considered family members. Jimbo and fsu have more in common with those types of institutions then institutions with integrity and hey, sometimes parents want people to protect their kids no matter how much wrong they do. Enter Jimbo and TPD.

  7. snowprintNovember 20, 2014, 11:29 am

    SPIKE718 Just because there is a vast number of people who believe in something does not make it true. An example of that is when Winston Churchill was the lone voice telling everyone that Hitler was a threat to the world. The vast majority thought he was nuts and ridiculed him for saying such a nutty thing. Popularity doesn’t mean anything, facts do. The facts support my view,not yours.

    • Christopher ScammellNovember 20, 2014, 12:06 pm

      Winning and integrity are not mutually exclusive, but it takes time to do both. We have had a successful coach that won big with integrity and we can do it again. I am advocating balance…my thesis is not that its impossible or even improbable, my thesis is that it takes time and patience.

  8. gatormadeNovember 20, 2014, 12:08 pm

    Winning and having integrity don’t have to be mutually exclusive. That’s crazy and I shouldn’t feel bad for being a Gator alum who wants to have both. I really like Muschamp and rooted heavily for him but damn, these last four years have been excruciating as a fan. 95% of fans aren’t caught up in all the apocryphal allegations and day to day musings of a sports writer or a message board fanatic. They have jobs or school during the week and when the weekend comes they pay their hard earned money to go to a game so that they can escape, root for their team, be entertained and most of all, have fun. These last four years have not been fun. I’m glad champ was a great guidance counselor to these kids and all but that sure as hell doesn’t help us have fun on Saturdays and I sure as hell shouldn’t feel bad for wanting that.

    • Christopher ScammellNovember 20, 2014, 12:28 pm

      I never claimed we couldn’t have both, it is a call for patience and balance; not asking you to feel bad for wanting success. That is problem, no one wants to examine our motivations or assumptions anymore, which may or may not be true for you because I don’t know you. However, I have a day job too, I don’t make my living writing for Gator Country…but thank you for your apocryphal assumptions about what I do and don’t do…

  9. caribe5November 20, 2014, 12:43 pm

    I have never seen 16 comments and I been with GC long time, congrats , it was well written , however with flaws , first recall you own a construction business and have a law degree , that means your opinions are as good as any of the folks who respond to you , let me say this do you think STANFORD is a better academic school than UF , u best say YES , yet they win the athletic trophy every single year , good character and well rounded should not be separated from WINNING BIG in sports , one thing is for sure WE AT FLORIDA CANNOT BE LOOKED AT NOW AS IF WE ARE VANDY…….and if you read well what u wrote u might think VANDY, I am told by people I trust WM is a great guy , that is good to know and a good thing about him but so what as it relates to winning football , he was simply not a good coach I hope he does become one in the future but only if he changes his ways , I hope SS hires him and I hope SC does well with WM why not ? he should have never been hired by Jeremy never……….and I also wish you and everyone else stop riding Urban , everyone I know was in the high sky while he was our coach , people were proud to be GATORS , UF lead every single one of the broadcasts , THE GATORS this, TT this , Percy Harvin this , coach Meyer that , I have yet to hear BG or Utah people demean him and ask Ohio St fans they adore him, we at UF or some at UF say horrible things about him because he left , but I know zillions who would love for him to be our coach , stop ill treating him , look at who his coaches were and where they are today , MULLEN, HOLIDAY, STRONG , MATTISON, HEVESY, BILLY G, ADDAZIO AND CHUCK HEATER , look where they all are . WM is a good guy and I am happy for that BUT he was a lousy yes lousy head coach , we shall see who JF gets now, we are in the SEC and that says it all GO GATORS

    • Christopher ScammellNovember 20, 2014, 1:10 pm

      I am not advocating that we can’t have it all…we can. Muschamp was a bad hire, but there are lingering issues that go back to Zook regarding fan expectations…and any fan base has that, but I do think that a large swath of our fan base has unrealistic expectations. I just don’t want to fall into the danger of wanting everything and wanting it right now and then getting into a negative feedback cycle of constant firing and hiring; that was Bama from Stallings until Saban and it didn’t get them anywhere.

      As far as Meyer goes, if we would have had the public knowledge of what was going on internally within the program, I doubt that Meyer would have survived as long as he did. I was with everyone else when Meyer was here, but the player conduct issues were embarrassing. There is a reason that it is a “public secret” that the Gators have no interest in Dan Mullen, but there must be a reason for that.

      You don’t have to convince me that UF is a better place to go than any school, including Harvard or Stanford, I love UF. I think we should be the best at everything we do…but we should strive to be the best in the “right” ways as well. UF is a special place and I say what I say out of love for my alma mater.

      I know we will have the best football program again on the field and off, its just a matter of balance and patience.

  10. mongoNovember 20, 2014, 1:32 pm

    I don’t know why you even respond to this guy, this says it all:

    “The fact, if you’re interested in facts, is that Jameis Winston has not done anything to get in a huff about”.

    • IndianaStewNovember 20, 2014, 3:01 pm

      FSU fan. Just quit posting on here, already.

  11. IndianaStewNovember 20, 2014, 3:40 pm

    Yes, Champ did things the right way off the field.
    But he was not hired to be the ethical coordinator of athletics. He was hired to be the football coach, and his PHILOSOPHY of COACHING has been exposed. That is why he was fired.

    Please don’t make it out to be anything more than that.

    I loved coach and wanted to keep him.
    After LSU, I knew his philosophy was actually different than what he said it was, but I wanted to believe him. Then MO. Then USC. Then I knew his true philosophy would never win.

    As a DC, he has a great philosophy. Aggressive, hard nosed, disciplined. Fast.
    As a head coach he has an AWFUL philosophy, awesome aggressive defense that can rest while the “prevent offense” tries to stay on the field for long times and tries not to lose the game for us.

    The prevent defense doesn’t work, and Champ knows this.
    Conservative offense is one thing (what he claims), but in reality coach runs a prevent offense. And it killed us. For four years, despite many claims that he would change, we saw a prevent offense. Again. And Again. We got lucky more times in 2012 than we did in 2013 and 2014, and the special teams made for some of that luck in 2012, where the philosophy works better with NFL kickers… but this article missed a few key points.

    The issue is NOT the fans (all fan bases are grumpy. I graduated Baylor and even we are starting to become entitled recently).
    The issue is NOT the off field vs. on field accomplishments. (I do NOT want the FSU or Meyer philosophy, win at all costs. We can and should have both at Florida. But champ is hired to win games, lets not kid ourselves. If we wanted an off field ethical guru, we actually could have done better than champ). These exact players, with the same off field discipline WOULD HAVE WON many more games and Champ would still have his job if the coaching philosophy was different. If the philosophy wasn’t aggressive defense/ prevent offense.

    The issue is that the philosophy got exposed for what it really was and I hope Champ learns from this and understands you cannot play prevent offense and expect to have a great team. If you told him as a defensive coach to quit blitzing, quit taking chances on picks and strips, and only play a conservative zone defense all day long, he would rightly claim that you are handcuffing his ability to win the game! Yet he does that to the offense. Over the last couple years, the craziest, most daring “light it up” offenses in the college game have been Oregon and Baylor. I want to let you in on a little secret… They do NOT turn the ball over much at all and will score in 3 plays regularly over the last 4-6 years, with multiple QB’s and players. They actually turn the ball over less than Florida consistently!!! And they take chances. They throw it deep, use misdirection, the whole field, and get a defense on its heels. This makes them effective, much like the blitzes, disguises, and ball hawking make Champ’s D’s so successful. But he doesn’t see this. he thinks he’s protecting the football and protecting the lead.
    Prevent offense.
    I just hope this good man learns this and sees this. Because he WILL be a great head coach some day. But he ran out of chances to show his “prevent offense” philosophy that he calls conservative (but really isn’t) would win here.

    So let’s not kid ourselves. His outdated philosophy is why he is now gone. Nothing to do with fans or off field behavior.

    • Christopher ScammellNovember 20, 2014, 4:18 pm

      As I said on the thread, he was fired for not winning enough games. No one disputes this.

      The introspection and discussion is about balancing the want and need to win against other things we want and need as a program and university.

  12. gatormadeNovember 20, 2014, 6:07 pm

    Christopher- My wording was a bit confusing- I’ve read your bio and know this is not your full time job and I’m sure most message board fanatics have jobs too. What I meant was that most fans are removed from this gossipy world during the week and don’t care about hearsay rumors involving supposed “inner circles” that dont really affect them whatsoever. They don’t care so much about opinions among “coaching fraternities”, and they don’t care about whether Urban would have hypothetically kicked janoris Jenkins off the team for smoking herb (“oh my god a college kid smoking pot?! How nefarious!”) especially since it will be legal someday as it has already started going that direction. I like your articles very much but this one struck a nerve with people because it has a sanctimonious/ “you will be punished for your greed” backfire tone. After reading your replies I understand this wasn’t your whole intention so it’s all good but gators want to feel hopeful right now and this just bums everyone out.

  13. ufmba2003November 20, 2014, 8:38 pm

    I don’t understand why every other article creates a dichotomy…why is it always “either/or”? If a fan, or fan base, is unhappy it means they want “perfection”, and ONLY “perfection”. And if a fan base expects wins then they must always sacrifice ethics…I don’t think either of these dichotomies are accurate.

    I think, in this case, Gator Fan wanted to see progress and there simply hasn’t been any. The program is arguably no better from a talent standpoint, and no closer to competing for ATL, then it was in 2010 (when they also went into the USC game with a chance for ATL). The offense, after supposedly good recruiting and a “home run” OC hire, still have never been better than one of the 30 worst offenses in FBS football. That is not progress and THAT’S what Gator Fan wanted. They didn’t demand blowouts every week, just more than 6 wins and progress…

http://www.gatorcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Gator-Walk-Florida-Gators-Florida-Football-October-12-2014-LSU-Tigers-overview-flare-XL-150x150.jpg Christopher Scammell FeatureFootball
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We have all been through something in our lives be it a friendship, professional acquaintance, or relationship where for whatever reason just wasn’t working. After some time, the tension builds and finally some event occurs that alters or destroys the relationship. Finally, after the event, we sit down for the “talk”.

For Gator fans locked in a long-term dysfunctional relationship with Will Muschamp, the event that changed things was when Dylan Thompson crossed the goal line in overtime on Saturday. The “talk” finally came on Sunday afternoon.

Over the last few days I have been checking the message boards on Gator Country and following the rumors on Twitter regarding the speculation of the next person that will coach the Gators football team. The next few weeks will provide lots of excitement and hope to a resigned and apathetic fan base. However, part of me feels dirty and ashamed at the firing of Will Muschamp; I feel like a shallow hypocrite.

Over the years, Seinfeld and many other shows have made their living on exploiting the shallowness of our culture. However, Seinfeld delivered us the now-seemingly ubiquitous, “it’s not you, it’s me” mantra. With Jeremy Foley as our mouthpiece, Gator fans told this Muschamp, “Sorry, but, it’s not you, it’s me.” As a collective, we were unhappy with the amount of wins and style of football produced at Florida in the Muschamp era. Well, in the case of Will Muschamp’s departure, maybe it was us and not him.

By all accounts, Will Muschamp is respected and revered by his own players. If you ever go on Twitter it has been a non-stop love-fest pouring from his players since Sunday afternoon. They clearly love and respect Muschamp.

The coaching fraternity also seems to adore and respect Muschamp. The Godfather of Gator football, Stephen Orr Spurrier, openly sympathized with Will Muschamp, after he beat him on Saturday. Additionally, most commentators and pundits feel he will have no problem finding work after the FSU game. In fact, many feel there will be no shortage of programs that may line up for his services as a defensive coordinator.

Moreover, one of the latent fears embedded in the Gator fan base was that Muschamp might go to a rival and light up our offenses on an annual basis. No one likes to coach against a coach with a chip on his shoulder. Since he is very close to both Jimbo Fisher and Steve Spurrier, it is a very distinct possibility. Those fears may very well become a nightmare scenario for Gator fans.

Many fans on the Gator Country message boards espouse how much they want a high character coach to lead the Gators. In fact, many go so far as to negate the candidacies of many coaches based on real or perceived character flaws. Will Muschamp came to Florida without the slightest hint of a character issue. More importantly, he leaves this program without the hint of any impropriety.

Gator fans want a clean program. Will Muschamp gave Gator fans a clean program without the character issues that had become common place under Urban Meyer. When Urban Meyer phoned in the 2010 season and mounting problems within the locker room led him resign to “spend more time with his family”, someone had to clean up the mess. Someone had to come in and address the entitlement issues and take responsibility of the player conduct issues.

However, Gator fans wanted explosive offenses that ran up and down the field on opponents and won by 30-point margins with stifling defense. Moreover, we wanted a seamless transition from the Meyer regime to the Muschamp era.

In short, Gator fans want perfection. We want it all and we want it now! We are Veruca Salt. We are not the first football fan or the last football fans to become Veruca Salt, but we are the most current visible ones and that perception may or may not shade the next coach’s decision to come to Florida.

No one argues or contends that Will Muschamp lacked character or many other important factors desired as a head coach. In fact, no one really seems to argue that he is a bad coach; it is that he wasn’t a great head coach. The sole reason for Muschamp’s dismissal, which Muschamp and Foley agreed on, was Muschamp did not win enough football games. However, if that is the single issue that ended Muschamp’s time at Florida, shouldn’t we ask ourselves some important questions?

The Gator fan base needs to accept that the Spurrier years, when we won conference championships seemingly at will without the taint of controversy, was a black swan event; a rare high-profile event, beyond the normal expectations, which we have rationalized as if it could be expected. That was a rare and precious time to be a Florida Gator and even Meyer with his two National Championships could not duplicate what it felt like to be a Gator during the 1990s. Those championships, while wonderful, will never hold the cache of the 1996 National Championship with Spurrier, the prodigal son, who against long odds led us to the Promised Land.

Sure, we had success in the 1980s, but we also were placed on probation multiple times and narrowly escaped the dreaded NCAA death penalty in 1990. In retrospect, when Spurrier took over in 1990, success wasn’t guaranteed, assured or assumed. He was taking over a “dirty” program mired in NCAA penalties. That is part of Florida’s past that we rarely talk about, but is something we should always keep in mind.

Additionally, we need to look no further than Meyer’s tenure to confirm that winning in the ultra-competitive SEC comes at a price. Meyer’s teams, while talented, had many festering issues under the surface regarding player entitlement, covering up positive drug-tests, the “Circle of Trust”, and other issues regarding player conduct. In fact, when Janoris Jenkins was kicked off the team by Will Muschamp he said openly, that if Meyer had still been the coach he would still be playing for the Gators. The hard truth is that the success during Meyer’s time with the Gators came at a price. Maybe the price was our current football purgatory and the sacrifice of another coach at the altar of the football gods.

In short, I am saying that we can’t have it all without balance and patience. Even the head ball coach hasn’t duplicated his magical success at Florida in the NFL or at South Carolina. The expectations at Florida seem to be unattainable because even the man, who attained them, can’t match them.

So what do Gator fans want?

One needs to look no farther than FSU to see what a program run without principles looks like. No one wants that. Do we want Bama? No we tried that with Muschamp, no one can do what Bama does without the endless stream of five-star recruits they rack up every year. Additionally, rational people could argue that Bama has actually underachieved in regards to the talent stockpiled in Tuscaloosa. Besides, Gator fans didn’t like the Saban brand of football in 2012 when the Gators successfully ran it.

So we look towards the football heavens with stars in our eyes, for the home-run hire; this fictional coach that is a top-notch recruiter, an offensive genius, will turn the program around in a season or two, a high-character guy, runs a clean program, isn’t older than 45, has head coaching experience at a successful high-profile big 5 school, and will stay at the program for 30 years. It is odd to me that no one seems to understand why this might be a down year for coaching candidates. In any year, the candidate pool for a coach like that is virtually non-existent.

Therefore, we are chasing a black swan. The success of Meyer only solidified the mentality; it was only after his success that we realized that the program was not what some had perceived it to be. However, the problem is that no one has scaled back their expectations despite the revelations.

Now before all the trolls come out telling me that I have a loser’s mentality; I am not saying that Muschamp’s tenure was successful on the field. You can’t lose games like Mizzou and South Carolina anywhere. Muschamp needed more time to grow into the role of a head coach. The anti-Muschamp crowd was right about that; Florida is not a place where you get to learn to be a head coach. The mistake Foley made with Muschamp happened four years ago, not last year or this year.

I am also not claiming Florida is a terrible place to coach or that we cannot duplicate past success, what I am saying is that we should have a focus on balancing our interests in winning and the other aspects of the program. When the sole focus becomes championships, then we need to examine the role that football plays in our lives. If winning is all that matters then we are Penn State, Bama, and Florida State. I like to think that the University of Florida’s mission is broader than simply winning football games.

Moreover, I am not willing to label Muschamp’s time a Florida a failure. Muschamp did a lot of heavy lifting for the next coach. If you don’t think Florida’s program was a mess when Meyer, then left you are kidding yourself. Whoever comes in will benefit from Muschamp’s hard work in cleaning up the image of the program and creating a cohesive locker room. Finally, there is talent on this team; it may not be Bama talent; but it’s good enough talent to win the SEC East.

Regardless of who we hire, the Gator Nation needs to take a hard look at itself and its expectations for its football program. We all want success, but no one wants a program with a win at all costs mentality. Building a program requires patience and balance; something that has been in short supply because of our past successes. However, in addition to past successes, we need to look at as past failures as a guide to how we want to run the program as well.

Success takes time and I am sure anyone that comes to Florida will want to make some changes. In that vein, the new hire needs the permission to fail a few times before success because the process to rebuild this team may take a couple of seasons depending on what new offensive and defensive systems, if any, are installed in the spring. Changing things over and over again could lead to a vicious cycle; we need to be careful

Moreover, a reassessment of our core values as fans may be in order. When a person like Will Muschamp is vilified so deeply for the simple matter of not winning football games, perhaps a deeper philosophical examination of what is, or what is not, important in the larger game of life may be in order. Perhaps, in a few years as Muschamp strides off the sideline as a victorious opposing coach Gator fans will be wishing that we never told him that, “it’s not you, it’s me.”

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