Life in the SEC is a challenge for any coach, and that's especially true when it comes to Florida's Will Muschamp. The SEC is the No. 1 college football conference, and there’s more pressure to perform at a higher level than anywhere in the nation.
Muschamp is an interesting case study. The third-year coach entered 2013 with an 18-8 record.
In Muschamp’s first season, the Gators went 7-6 and failed to beat a team with a winning mark. However, Florida rebounded back into the national title picture last season, recording 11 victories, including seven in SEC play.
Injuries have ravaged the Florida lineup in 2013, with quarterback Jeff Driskel, running back Matt Jones and defensive tackle Dominique Easley all suffering season-ending injuries.
Even though Muschamp is one year removed from an 11-2 record, should already be on the hot seat?
Should Florida's Will Muschamp be on the Hot Seat?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Is Will Muschamp in any danger of losing his job this offseason? No. But if Florida finishes 2013 at 6-7 or 7-6, he will head into next season on shaky ground. Injuries have played a large role in the Gators’ struggles this season, which is why Muschamp gets somewhat of a pass for this year. Perhaps what’s most puzzling about Florida is the talent on offense. According to 247Sports, the Gators had top-five recruiting classes in 2012 and 2013 and ranked No. 11 overall in 2011. This team has struggled mightily on offense since leading the SEC in yards per game (457.9) in 2009. Florida has ranked 10th or worse in the SEC in total offense in each of the last four years, including last in the conference in 2013. Why hasn’t the talent on offense developed? Even though Muschamp wants to build a team on defense and running the ball, the Gators aren’t getting it done, and the blame has to fall on the coaching staff. Offensive assistants Brent Pease (coordinator) and Tim Davis (line coach) have received the most criticism, and both could be coaching for their job in the final month of the season. The lack of talent development on offense is baffling for a program that recruits at such a high level, and Muschamp’s tenure in Gainesville could hinge on fixing that unit this offseason.
From a share of the SEC East division title to the hot seat in less than a year? Such is life in the nation's toughest football conference, especially if you are the head coach at a school used to competing not only for conference tiles, but national ones too. Gator fans no doubt are not enjoying watching their team struggle while former head coach Urban Meyer is in the midst of a 21-game winning streak at Ohio State. In Muschamp's defense, he doesn't have Braxton Miller as his quarterback (or even Kenny Guiton for that matter), as Jeff Driskel was lost for the season after just three games. The defense also has suffered some key injuries and the end result is a Florida team that is at .500 entering November. Bowl eligibility shouldn't be a problem, not with games against Georgia Southern and Vanderbilt remaining, but Muschamp really could use a win against South Carolina or in-state rival Florida State to take some of the pressure off of him. I don't think Muschamp should be on the hot seat, not with all of the injuries he's had to deal with this season, but it's never a good thing when Gator fans start referring to you as "Ron Zook 2.0" either.
Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
Right now, no. Will Muschamp is only a year removed from winning 11 games at Florida and coming close to winning the SEC East. Muschamp’s SEC record (13-9) doesn’t look good, especially when it’s compared to Ron Zook’s (16-8) record during his three seasons in Gainesville. Overall, Muschamp hasn’t had enough success. But the results in 2012 show he can win at a high level at Florida. The Gators have been tormented by injuries this season, which have kept Florida from being able to compete with the best teams in the conference. The roster just isn’t good enough right now with so many players missing. But there won’t be any excuses next season. Muschamp will go through the offseason on every hot seat list in the country. He will be expected to have it all turned around by next year. If he doesn’t, the hot seat talk will be more than fair.