By BUDDY MARTIN
Actually, I was hoping to sit this one out, because I’m on record as never having agreed with the hiring of Will Muschamp. I have no relationship, working or personal, with the Florida coach, so pardon my aloofness. Full disclosure, however: I have enjoyed both a working and personal relationship with the Gators’ last three coaches. So take what I am about to say with a grain of salt. I do feel impelled to finally comment. Callers to my radio show, Buddy Martin’s Sports Page, (5 p.m. Monday-Friday on WOCA.com and1370 AM/96.3 FM) won’t let me off the hook and neither will some of my friends on Facebook or Twitter. So here goes.
It’s getting perilously close to the time for Athletics Director Jeremy Foley to push the eject button on his embattled head football coach. By any standard, Muschamp must be labeled a failure. By Foley’s and Florida’s standards, an abject failure.
Matter of fact, Muschamp is one butt-whipping away by South Carolina and a drubbing from FSU from having somebody else put Foley’s finger on the eject button and pushing it for him. Given the above scenario, the decision to fire Muschamp might be out of the erstwhile AD’s otherwise capable hands.
The Gators lost more than a football game Saturday. They lost their dignity.
Getting pushed around and beaten by Vanderbilt for the first time in 23 years was bad enough; losing at home to the Commodores for the first time since 1945 was downright disgraceful, considering the difference in talent.
This was one more level down in a death spiral that began in the January Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville, after that “Fool’s Gold” 11-win season. Since that time Muschamp’s teams not only haven’t improved — they have gone backwards, losing their last four and six of the last 10.
Equally as devastating as the losses of games is the fact that the Gator Nation has lost its passion. Already swept up in a wave of apathy that seems to be eroding the fan bases of college football like a pack of termites, Gator fans are walking out early even if they show up in the first place. I know 50 or so devout fans who gave up their tickets this year which they’ve been buying for decades.
Now why would those expatriate fans ever want to come back?
They are fresh out of excuses in Gainesville.
Let’s not cop out with the injury card or the feeble buck-passing “empty cupboard” myth.
Muschamp was clearly not the right man for the job in the first place.
It’s time to cut your losses — in this case, literally — and just clean up the mess. Here’s are some reasons why:
Ten Reasons Why Muschamp Must Go
1. Florida’s brand has been severely damaged and a winning tradition erased. All the momentum gained more than two decades over rivals FSU, Georgia and Tennessee that was built up by the last three coaches has dissipated and Gators are back to square one.
2. Ron Zook’s record was better than Muschamp’s and Zook was fired before the season was over. Muschamp 23-14 for .629; Zook 22-13 for .662. In his entire six years, Urban Meyer only lost 15 games.
3. A tidal wave of Gator Nation discontent may have started before he arrived, but it has now reached epic proportion. It may be irreversible for the foreseeable future.
4. FSU’s remarkable season and the popularity of quarterback Jameis Winston has captured the imagination of many fans, which means major recruiting inroads to talent in Florida and the South.
5.The Seminoles will likely be playing for a national championship while the Gators are unlikely to even reach the lowest rung of their goals, to become “bowl eligible.”
6. The offense is dull and uninspiring. We knew that from the first game of the season, even when Jeff Driskell was playing. Baby Boomer Gators have seen this movie before: Starring Doug Dickey and or even Bob Woodruff.
7. This “empty cupboard” myth has gone too far. Urban Meyer’s last three classes and how ESPN ranked them nationally: 2008 — No. 4; 2009–No. 5; 2010–No. 1. So where did all that talent go? Worse yet, look for some major decommits and misses on the recruiting trail.
8. Will Muschamp wouldn’t know an offensive coordinator if you drew him a picture of one (see Charlie Weis fiasco). And anyway, he certainly can’t find one who enjoys wearing handcuffs.
9. What he lacked in coaching skills, Muschamp certainly hasn’t exactly made up for in social decorum. He got into a hissing contest with a Gator fan after the Georgia game. And while his petulant child-like tantrums may have been tamed him a little, the images of his meltdowns linger vividly in the minds of fans and player.
10. Finally, there’s no denying Muschamp’s DNA: He’s the long lost great, great grandson of Gen. Robert Neyland and great grand nephew of Bob Woodruff. He thinks defense wins games and proves that by putting most of his talent on that side of the ball. One step away from punting on third down.
And what’s the reason he won’t get fired? If Foley digs in, putting his job on the line to save his coach, but makes Muschamp fire some assistants as sacrificial lambs, the AD has enough respect from President Bernie Machen and key boosters to give him a mulligan. As far as I’m concerned, Foley is delaying the inevitable. But like I say — maybe I’m prejudice.