ORLANDO — The coaching profession is about as stable as Charlie Sheen was when he was guzzling tiger’s blood and “winning.” Coaches know what they signed up for; the pay can be great, the opportunity to impact the lives of young men and do something you love is rewarding but job security is becoming a rarity in college football.
Jim McElwain faced a former boss and employer when the Gators played Alabama in the SEC Championship game but Mac had three years in-between stints. This Friday Florida Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will call plays against Michigan, the team he was the offensive coordinator for just one year ago.
“We were actually talking about that,” Jim McElwain said of a conversation with his OC. “It is. I don’t know how many times that has happened, but I would guess that it hadn’t been very often. I know he really enjoyed his experience there. I know that he’s looking forward to seeing some of the guys who were there when he was there too. But it is a little different.”
Nussmeier played down the matchup.
“That’s football, you know? I think the players see it too,” Nussmeier said. “They play with guys in high school. You look across the depth charts of teams. There are kids from Florida on Michigan’s team. There’s kids from Michigan on Florida’s team.”
Michigan’s offense struggled in Nussmeier’s only season. The Wolverine’s finished dead last in the Big Ten in total offense (333.0) and 13th in scoring offense (20.9 points per game). A lot of the offensive issues can go back to not having an effective quarterback and the team as a whole losing faith in a coaching staff that hadn’t had success.
“The season didn’t go the way we wanted to. But that’s football, you know,” said Nussmeier. “And when you’re around this business long enough and you see the ups and downs and the ins and outs, you live day to day and you focus on each snap, each drive, each quarter.”
Adding to the dynamic was a move that Michigan made. When D.J. Durkin left Florida he accepted the job to be Michigan’s defensive coordinator. Durkin was offered and accepted the head-coaching job at Maryland, leaving a void in Michigan’s coaching staff heading into this game. Veteran defensive coordinator Greg Mattison (who coached at Florida from 2005-2007) assumed the role for the Wolverines. Mattison and Nussmeier were both on Michigan’s staff last year and keep in touch on a regular basis now.
“[I’ve] got a lot of respect for Greg, outstanding football coach. Obviously, you look at the success of the defense, obviously he’s played a big role in that,” Nussmeier said. “Obviously, he’ll have a little familiarity with me and I will with him. So looking forward to it.”
Florida and Michigan bring two of the nation’s top defenses into a bowl game that promises to be a defensive affair, but if you can’t score you can’t win and Nussmeier would really like a win over his former team.