As we count down 50 days until the start of the 2014 college football season, ESPN Insider Travis Haney is answering at least one big question a day until South Carolina and Texas A&M’s kickoff on Aug. 28.
Heisman contenders, breakout freshmen, conference winners – it will all be covered as part of Insider’s Ultimate Season Preview.
Today’s question: What has gone wrong for Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators? Can it be repaired?
The basics: Muschamp has a 22-16 record in three seasons with the Gators. That includes an 11-2 season in 2012 that, considering Florida’s limited offensive attack, should have looked something more like 9-4. It also includes a 4-8 campaign last year that, thanks to a stunning rash of injuries, should have been something more like 7-5 or 8-4.
Those staggered finishes mean Muschamp’s record is actually close to where it should be -- which means it isn’t where it should be in the eyes of Florida supporters or even those watching from afar.
Florida is a premier job. The standard, originally set by Steve Spurrier and renewed by Urban Meyer, is to play for conference and national titles.
If Muschamp intends to keep his job, he will have to demonstrate that he can quickly turn the Gators into a contender.
What’s gone wrong?
Not the defense: In Muschamp’s three years, the Gators -– with that middling record –- rank fifth among power conference teams in yards per play allowed and sixth in scoring D. That’s nearly Alabama- and Florida State-level play over a three-year period.
“Even if he isn’t a head coach,” a coach in another league told me this spring, “Will can coach the hell out of a defense. I know that.”