Will Muschamp has hired three offensive coordinators.
Charlie Weis. Brent Pease. Kurt Roper. There is a pattern there. All three were coach’s coaches, guys well-known by their colleagues and well respected by their colleagues. In other words, they were safe. The other pattern is that none of them lasted long with Muschamp. Weis left after one year to take a head coaching job. Pease was fired after two seasons. And, on Wednesday, Roper was fired after his third season with Muschamp, one at Florida in 2014 and the past two with South Carolina.
Muschamp will let wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon call plays for the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl and then will announce Roper’s full-time replacement. That person will be Muschamp’s fourth offensive coordinator as he enters his seventh season as a head coach.
The question now is: How will he approach the hire? The safe road hasn’t worked so far. The offenses of Muschamp’s six teams (four at Florida and two at South Carolina) have never finished higher than 10th in the SEC in total offense. That was under Weis in 2011. The number has been 12th or worse since then.
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That doesn’t mean Muschamp won’t take the safe road again.
There will always be safe names out there – guys like Eddie Gran at Kentucky or Noel Mazzone (for now of Texas A&M). One of Muschamp’s core beliefs as a football coach is in that of complementary football – meaning the offense, defense and special teams all work together, operating within schemes that help the other have the best chance to succeed.
That’s different from, say, hurry-up, no-huddle offense, which can put lots of pressure on a defense if things aren’t going well. It also can take a lot of pressure off a defense if things are going well.
If Muschamp wants to think outside the box, there are more names out there than any of us can list. Take a look at what Penn State did in 2015 when it named Fordham head coach Joe Moorhead its offensive coordinator. The Nittany Lions offense exploded, and this year, Moorhead became Mississippi State’s head coach.
If Muschamp wants to think outside the box, there are high school coaches, or former high school coaches with little college experience, he could consider.
If Muschamp wants to think outside the box, it could be a huge hit and fix the only thing that has plagued his team for six seasons. Or, it could be an unmitigated disaster.
What none of us know now is whether Muschamp wants to think outside the box.