After a terrible 2013 season, Will Muschamp was placed on the hot seat. His employment was conditional and changes had to be made. He fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease and hired Kurt Roper from Duke. Expectations were high for the 2014 season and Muschamp’s Florida was up and down. So it was time to make make a decision: Give Will Muschamp one more season with new OC Kurt Roper or fire him before bad gets worse.
Muschamp was fired and replaced with Jim McElwain. McElwain was well respected in college football circles for taking a ball of clay that included Julio Jones and Mark Ingram and molding it into a competent offense. As head coach of perennial Mountain West powerhouse Colorado State, he led them to a 22-16 overall record during his tenure. Obviously, he was the one and only choice for a minor SEC school only known for the creation of a salty energy drink and a statue of a QB who should have been an MLB his entire career.
Ok, let’s get serious here, Jim McElwain was a bad choice for the Florida Gators for the jump. His run-run-pass offensive philosophy paired with his inability to recruit made him a terrible choice for head coach. Although he was one Will Grier away from a flawless season and has an SEC East title under his belt, there was little room for optimism. Look closely, what wasn’t he doing? His record during his time at Florida was 22-12. This almost mirrors Ron Zook’s 23-14. McElwain, being a disciple of Saban, was touted as a disciplinarian. His team finished with 737 penalty yards in 2015, 758 in 2018, and was well on his way to at least matching that average this season.
Known as an offensive guru, his 2016 team finished 110 out of 128 eligible FCS schools in total points scored and is currently 110th in the nation this season.
So what’s next for Florida? This question is difficult but I’ll offer my useless opinion on what should happen next.
First, they should hire another offensive minded coach. Find a good one this time though. Second, they should hire a coach who is a reputable recruiter. Finally, if all else fails, go for broke and hire an exciting coach. Here are a few coaches on my personal list for Florida.
Safe But Unlikely Choices
- Dan Mullen: This is who I thought Florida should’ve hired instead of McElwain the first time. He knows Florida since he served as Offensive Coordinator for Urban Meyer. He develops players and does a lot with a little. Although Starkville Mississippi is no hotspot for recruiting activity, he has put out names such as Fletcher Cox, Darius Slay, Chris Jones, Bernardrick McKinney and of course, Dak Prescott. What he has done at Mississippi State with limited resources is nothing short of amazing.
- Charlie Strong: The stench of his Texas tenure is still on him but it’s slowly being washed off due to his success at South Florida. He had success at Louisville as well. Although he’s not an offensive minded coach, he’s well respected. Not to mention, he was *almost* Florida’s coach once before.
The Ideal Choice
- Chip Kelly: Sure, he got fired from two NFL jobs but Chip Kelly is still an ideal name for Florida. He’s not afraid to play young players right away, he can recruit, and his exciting, wide-open style would be very appealing to the large pool of athletes in Florida. Right now, I see a roster at Florida in an offense that asks them to do things that don’t showcase their talents. Chip Kelly’s offense could salvage Filipe Franks. It could make Lamical Perine a rushing machine. It could get more out of Cyontai Lewis. Chip Kelly should be one of Florida’s top choices.
Go for Broke and Throw Caution to the Wind
- Scott Frost: This is Scott Frost. This is Scott Frost putting on a helmet. This is Scott Frost putting on a helmet because he runs scout team QB for his UCF Knights. Scott Frost, one of the best option QBs of all time, knows offense. His Nebraska Huskers steamrolled every team they faced his senior season. He converted to safety in the NFL and even served as a defensive coordinator, which makes him even more well rounded. He was also Oregon’s offensive coordinator from 2013-2015 after being promoted from WR coach. Sure, he would be a risk considering he doesn’t have much experience as being a head coach but his team has scored nearly 300 points and that’s incredibly hard to overlook.
Florida has a tough decision on their hands. They can’t afford another blunder for a head coach a la Muschamp or another safe choice such as McElwain. If Florida football will return to prominence anytime soon, a good head coach is important.