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A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Coaching Moves

Foley Moves Fast, Lands Muschamp

Jeremy Foley moves fast. If Will Muschamp was not his top choice — maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t — then the Florida athletic director made quick work adding and crossing names off his list, coming to a decision as to Urban Meyer’s successor only three days after the wildly successful Meyer opted to resign for the second time in as many seasons. So it’s Muschamp, late of Texas, late of Auburn, L.S.U. and Georgia, and one of the nation’s most esteemed defensive minds.

It’s hard to not be a little surprised. Muschamp was the head-coach-in-waiting at Texas, after all, and if one program can match Florida for money, prestige and a deep recruiting base, it’s the program in Austin. If you’re looking for a reason why Muschamp would leave that opportunity for another, think about the timeline: yes, Muschamp is poised to replace Mack Brown — unfortunately, there’s no evidence that Brown is stepping down any time soon.

Looking for another reason? Try Muschamp’s background: prior to Texas, it was all SEC, dating back to his playing days and extending through his early rise through the coaching ranks. You can rest assured that Muschamp always pictured a return to the SEC; of course, it’s easy to say that in hindsight.

There’s no doubt that the Texas job is one of the best in the nation, thanks both to the program already in place — thanks to Mack Brown — and the ease with which U.T. recruits the area. It’s slightly harder to stockpile talent in Gainesville, though that’s merely because of the competition: there’s more talent in the Sunshine State, it seems, but Muschamp will be competing for signatures with Jimbo Fisher and a yet-to-be named coach at Miami (Fla.), though a coach like Randy Edsall, for instance, doesn’t exactly reel in the big names.

For Muschamp, the Florida job was a step up. That very may well be; it clearly was in this case, for a coach whose roots in SEC country run deep. From Georgia — where to Muschamp was an all-conference safety — to L.S.U., where Muschamp cut his teeth under Nick Saban, to Auburn, where Muschamp’s fiery demeanor and dominating defenses first earned him national recognition, Muschamp has a connection to this conference that proved impossible ignore.

Yes, it’s still surprising. On the other hand, it’s hard not to be excited at the thought of this maniac — and I use with utmost praise — at the helm of a premier SEC program. Florida’s recruiting, which had taken a hit in 2010, will heat back up quickly.

But what of Muschamp’s staff? This is key, as Mack Brown’s struggles at Texas this fall can attest: Muschamp will need to compile a balanced staff, one that combines his defensive acumen with an offensive philosophy capable of scoring in the SEC. Scratch that: a better example with be this year’s Gators, who were woefully inept on offense.

One name to watch: Texas running backs coach Major Applewhite. Word now is that Applewhite will come with Muschamp as Florida’s offensive coordinator, a position he held at Rice in 2006 and Alabama a season later. Is that a big enough name around which to build an offensive staff?

It’s a start, though Florida fans were likely expecting bigger — try Dana Holgorsen, for instance. But it’s a start: like Jeremy Foley, expect Muschamp to move fast in compiling his assistants.

Now, let’s say that Muschamp surrounds himself with a premier offensive staff; that would involve Florida ponying up some cash, but that shouldn’t be a problem. If he lands some aces — it’s going to be exciting.

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  1. Burnt Orange says:

    Texas has essentially fired or retired three assistant coaches in recent days. Now Muschamp is gone and rumors of him taking the best remaining staff members are rampant. ( Applewhite plus Oscar Giles and Duane Akina ) The staff is gutted and let’s face it – Brown really doesn’t do much coaching. The potential impact on recruiting this year is obvious. This past season and the current staff chaos must be football karma for the weasel- like approach to conference realignment. What a fiasco.

  2. DMK says:

    Malcolm Brown, you are officially invited to reopen the recruiting process. Alabama’s still looking to sign a back.

    Tough times, Burnt Orange, but cleaning house might help some of those five-stars get their drive back. I still say that Texas could hire me and not have another year as weird as this one. You’re looking at 10 wins again in a year or two.

  3. Burnt Orange says:

    Hope you are right DMK about the 10 wins, but I think this smells more and more like a sixth place team in conference next year.

    On Malcolm Brown, Applewhite recruited him so if Applewhite leaves, Brown is up for grabs. For a coordinator, Muschamp was heavily involved in the recruiting process so many of the defensive commits could be in jeopardy.

    The funny thing is I talked to Florida buddy of mine earlier and he is not that fired up about the hire – I think Florida is getting a great coach and natural leader.

  4. DaU!!!!!!!!!!! says:

    I hate florida……

  5. john says:

    Muschamp is a great hire, but they must have time which he will have. I believe that CAM NEWTON being thrown out of FLORIGA, had a lot to do with The departure of URBAN. I also believe that URBAN has a health problem. One thing is for sure, a TEBOW does not come around often, URBAN thought he had another in CAM, he thought…but FLORIDA requires that the football players must be able to be a QUALIFIED student also, and CAM could not do the work, got caught cheating a few times and finally was thrown out of school. He was on his way to MISS. STATE but the cost was high and it got out, things got hot and CAM found the perfect place, AUBURN!!! He sure got smart in a hurry, breazed right through, was much more intelligent at AUBURN, than FLORIDA, and no trouble with cheating, is AUBURN easier, or is it because they get a free ride there, mr SLIVE that needs to be cleared up. It needs to be done fast to keep you an honest guy, and clear AUBURN if you can…maranatha!!!

  6. DMK says:

    I think you forgot to take your pill this morning, john.

    I have to agree, though, that it’s all Auburn’s fault!

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