In life, it’s always nice to have options.
Options on what college to attend, what restaurant to eat at or even what career to pursue.
Will Muschamp has options — lots of them. The Florida Gators’ football coach is weighing what direction to go with the assistant coach position that opened up on his staff late last week.
“I have some ideas about the next hire,” Muschamp said Friday. “When I know something, I’ll let you know. We can do some different routes here, but I’m not going to discuss those as far as what we’re doing, but I feel very comfortable about our staff and what we’re doing.
“At the end of the day we’re at the University of Florida and there’s a lot of people that want to be a part of our program.”
To begin with, let’s examine exactly what Florida needs based on this past week’s events.
As soon as Gus Bradley accepted a job to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars, it began a domino effect Muschamp said he had anticipated unfolding. He figured he soon would be searching for a new defensive coordinator.
He was spot on.
Dan Quinn was hired to replace Bradley as defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. Within what seemed like minutes, GC’s sources said players were sent a mass text stating DJ Durkin had been named Florida’s new defensive coordinator.
Muschamp certainly had his game plan in place well in advance.
“I think you always have a list (of coaching candidates) in your drawer there,” Muschamp said. “Part of my job is anticipating when things are going to happen. Obviously, with Dan’s relationship with the Seattle organization, I knew when Gus Bradley got a job there would be interest on their part (in Quinn) and possibly some interest on his part (in Seattle).
“As we continued to talk, you know, you start planning on things for what you feel like you need to do and what’s best for the program.”
What’s best for the program has been behind each one of Muschamp’s decisions, staff and otherwise, since he arrived in Gainesville more than two years ago.
Even though Durkin has never called plays for a defense, Muschamp believes his former linebackers coach and special teams coordinator is the best man for the job. After all, Quinn had not called defenses either when he was hired two seasons ago.
“DJ’s similar to Dan in a sense that the guy is very bright, smart, energetic, does a great job with our players,” Muschamp said. “Obviously, you see the results he had on special teams, they’re outstanding. Great teacher.
“He sees the big picture of the game and understands what it takes to be successful. But more than anything to me, understands everything and our system’s pretty good. We’re going to continue to be really good.”
In other words, the Gators’ hybrid 4-3/3-4 scheme that finished fifth nationally in total defense this season will remain unchanged under Durkin. The continuity should benefit the team more than it would have had players had to learn a new system under a new defensive coordinator. Muschamp mentioned how terminology would not change and there would not be a “wholesale change” within the defensive philosophy.
That said, Muschamp likely wants to continue the success Durkin has had as special teams coordinator. He didn’t rule out the possibility of promoting from within for that gig.
“We’ve got a lot of different avenues to travel down and I’ll address it when we do it,” Muschamp said. “I’ve been in situations where you have a special
teams coordinator and he coaches everything like D.J. did. I’ve been a part of staffs where we’ve been very successful on special teams and each coach had a part … Been down a lot of those roads.”
Quinn also assisted Bryant Young with coaching the defensive line, so the odds are the new hire will take on a similar role. Whether the new hire coaches a positional group and special teams remains to be seen. GatorCountry.com compiled an initial watch list of potential candidates to fill the staff vacancy.
Muschamp did not put a timeline on when he would announce the new hire. Some believe he will do so before the national signing period begins on Feb. 6, but that has not been confirmed through GC’s sources close to the program.
As Muschamp said before, he has plenty of options. A lot of coaches want to be a part of a program that appears primed for a serious run at an SEC and national championship in the coming seasons, if not next season.
“The bottom line is we’re gonna find the best fit for the University of Florida and make it work,” he said.