Will Muschamp is one mediocre to bad season away from a date with a U-Haul and a new house hunt. If the 2014 season remotely resembles the 2013 season, he may have to wear riot gear as he packs his bags.
There is a line from “Goodfellas” that applies to the 2013 Florida Gators: “Everybody has to take a beating sometime.” The Gators certainly took their beating and not just on the field. Not only did several key players go down with injury, not only did the Gators lose eight games, but their head coach made headlines every week with his sideline outbursts that had television viewers wondering if Muschamp was auditioning for a remake of “Scanners.”
This behavior was poisonous to the team and the fan base. Watching Florida games in 2013, you were guaranteed two things: abysmal offense and a slow motion replay of a patented Muschamp meltdown on the nearest referee or offending Florida player. It did not take a genius to read his lips and ascertain words that are better reserved for a Marine Corps barracks. 18-22 year old college athletes cannot focus on the task at hand when their leader is exploding like a volcano all over the sidelines.
Florida’s bad season does not completely fall on Muschamp. First-string quarterback Jeff Driskel started an injury bug that swept through the entire team. The offensive playcalling was atrocious. Nonetheless, as the injuries and losses piled up, he did the team no favors. Rather than unifying the team and endearing himself to the fan base, Muschamp created a distance that culminated in a quiet Swamp crowd watching the Gators lose to the Georgia Southern Eagles, a low point that has not been forgotten in Gainesville.
There is a certain way to handle in-game discipline when a player makes a mistake or a referee blows a call. However, when a coach’s method of doing so makes the highlight reels as much as touchdowns and tackles, it is time for a change. That change will come after 2014. Florida’s schedule dictates a tough road ahead and the pressure of “win or be gone” will overtake Muschamp.
Florida faces the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa and the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville before returning to Gainesville to face the LSU Tigers and Missouri Tigers. After a bye week, the annual matchup in Jacksonville with the Georgia Bulldogs looms on the horizon. This five-game stretch will spell the end of the Muschamp era.
The Florida faithful simply will not stand for another 4-8 season or the mockery of a sideshow that stars in YouTube videos and Internet memes on a weekly basis. By the time Florida rolls into Doak Campbell Stadium to face the defending champion Florida State Seminoles, the U-Haul may already be in his driveway.