JACKSONVILLE — It was the dream staff. Six Super Bowl rings and a wealth of NFL coaching experience. That was the sales pitch Florida gave just about every recruit it was after for the past year.
Well, the Gators can kiss that pitch goodbye after Kansas announced Thursday that Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will be the Jayhawks’ new head coach.
“Charlie took the University of Kansas head football job today,” Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. “He informed me about a couple hours ago. Very happy for him and his wife.”
Multiple sources have told GatorCountry.com that Florida offensive line coach Frank Verducci will follow Weis to Kansas. Verducci had worked with Weis at Notre Dame prior to taking the Florida job.
Weis will leave immediately for the Kansas job, leaving Florida without an offensive coordinator for its Gator Bowl matchup against Ohio State on Jan. 2.
“As far as calling the bowl game, right now on staff Brian White would assume the play-calling duties through the bowl game,” Muschamp said. “We are going to remain a pro-style offense, and I will go hire the best offensive coordinator in the country.”
The Florida offense regressed under Weis’ direction going from 82nd nationally in total offense in 2010 to 102nd in 2011.
The Gators battled an ankle injury that hobbled starting quarterback John Brantley throughout the second half of the season and lack of depth on the offensive line.
“We need to improve offensively, that’s pretty obvious,” Muschamp said. “We look forward to taking those steps forward, but we’re happy for Charlie.”
Muschamp, who took part in an introductory press conference in Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl on Thursday, was caught somewhat off guard by Weis taking the Kansas job.
He said Weis informed him of his decision an hour before his press conference, around 4:30 p.m.
“He told me it was an opportunity that he wanted to take, and I support him 1,000 percent,” Muschamp said. “I think that’s great. Now when guys make parallel moves, I don’t necessarily agree. When guys can further their career, I think that’s great.”
Muschamp would not put a timeline on hiring a new offensive coordinator, but he said he will look for the best fit for what Florida has tried to do the past year offensively.
A source told GatorCountry.com that four of Muschamp’s early candidates are Kerwin Bell, Al Borges, Major Applewhite and Brian White. Muschamp publicly confirmed that both Bell and White will be candidates.
“I know Kerwin, he’s an outstanding football coach and certainly will be under consideration,” Muschamp said. “(White) will be considered, certainly.”
Though the news of Weis’ departure leaves Florida fans in disbelief after Weis publicly stated on several occasions that he planned to be in Ganiesville for a long time, Muschamp looks at it as an opportunity to improve his football team.
He hadn’t spoken to his players yet, but he said they are resilient and will adjust well when Florida hires its new offensive coordinator.
“We’re going to be fine, we’re going to improve and we’re going to get better from it,” he said. “We’re at the University of Florida. We’re going to be able to go hire an outstanding football coach that’s going to fit what I want done within our offense and within our systems. That’s what we’re going to do, and I’m going to take my time on it to make sure we hire the right guy and we get the right fit. That’s really what it’s about.”