The year was 2011. The Florida Gators had just hired a new head coach. Fans were ecstatic. This was the guy that would lead them to continued prominence in the post-Urban Meyers era. They wouldn’t miss a beat under this replacement. He would be Meyers’ genuine successor.
That man’s name: Will Muschamp.
Renowned for his defensive coaching abilities, he was supposed to ensure that Florida wouldn’t fade from the national spotlight. They would continue to thrive in recruitment and, thus, continue to win.
Muschamp lasted just three seasons and change at Florida, compiling a 28-21 record. That along with two Bowl Game appearances—Gator Bowl and Sugar Bowl—is enough to earn you job security at most programs.
Florida, as we know, isn’t most programs.
After a dominant 2012 season in which the Gators finished 11-2 and checked in at No. 9 in the national rankings, they fell to 4-8 in 2013. Then, in 2014, with a record of 6-5, they elected to fire him rather than let him finish out his fourth season at the helm. A 23-20 overtime loss to South Carolina at the time proved to be his death knell.
No one questioned Muschamp’s work ethic while he was at Florida, and he accepted full responsibility for their shortcomings. He promised to nab a bunch of high-end recruitments and to even steal top recruits from Texas-based powerhouses. He never delivered on that promise, at least not consistently, and while Florida was still able to field talented teams, they just couldn’t win enough games during Muschamp’s tenure.
The veteran head coach would land on his feet after an off-year, securing a gig with South Carolina, where he is still employed today. He has run into similar issues at his latest post. He’s been to three Bowl Games, winning one, but he has just two above-.500 seasons to his name.
Still, three Bowl Game appearances is nothing. The SEC is a tough conference, and Muschamp’s South Carolina teams have, by and large, sustained gritty defensive identities. They have only finished outside the top 55 in points allowed per game once over his first four seasons.
That still isn’t the kind of success that would’ve salvaged Muschamp’s job in Florida. Likewise, he’ll need to guide more dominant squads if he ever hopes to land back at a first-choice coaching school like Florida.