It’S Friday and it will be business as usual for the Florida coaching staff. Will Muschamp and his coaches will be on the road recruiting tonight, doing their best to convince high school studs to look past the current woes and envision a bright future in which the Gators are competing for championships once again. It’s not an impossible job but it would be so much easier if the Gators had played particularly well since knocking off Kentucky.
Muschamp is well aware that his head coaching life at the University of Florida depends on his ability to not only hold things together in these next five weeks but convince Jeremy Foley that the current problems are mere hiccups that will be calmed with a few more deep breaths. At best this is a five-week audition. At worst, it’s The Gong Show.
If the Gators go 4-1 the rest of the way with one of those wins over Georgia or Florida State, you can all but bet the farm that Muschamp will be next year’s head coach. It’s a no-brainer if the Gators run the table.
If they go 3-2, which would make them bowl eligible, and play both Georgia and Florida State white knuckles to the end, it will be a close call but it would actually favor Muschamp returning next year. Fans may not like 6-5 and a bowl game in Birmingham or Shreveport where they are required to stay an extra week if they lose, but understand that Foley has never clearly defined what he calls “progress” and he’s said that as long as he sees progress and likes the direction in which the football team is heading that Muschamp will be back next year.
A 3-2 record in which both the Georgia and Florida State games are embarrassing losses won’t cut it. In fact, if the Gators lose to Georgia in humiliating fashion, you can figure Muschamp gets gonged and won’t finish out the season.
This is a painful situation for Foley, who really does want to give Muschamp the fifth year but give him credit for giving Muschamp one last chance to redeem himself. By holding off on what Florida fans thought was the inevitable after the Missouri loss, Foley has given Muschamp one last chance to make it work. As much as you can say it’s impossible, that the Gators can’t go 5-0 or 4-1 the rest of the way, this is college football and stranger things have happened.
By letting the situation play itself out, Foley is sending a clear message to whoever might be the next coach if things don’t break Muschamp’s way that at Florida you’ll be given every opportunity and every resource to succeed.
The additional revenue from the SEC Network is why Florida will have no problems paying whatever it takes to get the coach if and when it comes to a parting of the ways with Muschamp. Early revenue estimates from the new network had analysts figuring an additional $20 million or so added to the existing contracts, which bring in relatively the same amount of money. That is based on a $600 million revenue model in which there is a 50-50 split, but there are whispers that with 92 million subscribers when it launched that the payout to each school should be in the $25-30 million range.
So, the high cost of doing business to bring in a big name coach won’t be a problem and not just for Florida. There are all sorts of rumors that Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss and Dan Mullen of Mississippi State will be on everybody’s wish list. Ole Miss and Mississippi State might not have been able to compete in a bidding war last year. This year, things are different and the SEC Network money will allow them to pay whatever they need to keep their coaches.
#1 Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0 SEC) over Kentucky (5-2, 2-2 SEC): Kentucky fans were brought back down to earth by LSU last week (41-3 beatdown). Now it seems like old times because they’re simply hoping to make it respectable Saturday afternoon when #1 Mississippi State and the Dak Prescott Heisman Trophy Tour come to town.
##3 Ole Miss (7-0, 4-0 SEC) over #24 LSU (6-2, 2-2 SEC): If Ole Miss has a chance to lose a game before the Egg Bowl, this might be it if the Rebels don’t come out fully focused and ready to play. It wouldn’t be the first great season that has come to die in appropriately named Death Valley. Not this year, though. Not with that Ole Miss defense.
##4 Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) over Tennessee (3-4, 0-3 SEC): Lane Kiffin’s mom says she fears for her son’s life when Alabama travels to Knoxville to face Tennessee. As bad as Vol fans hate Lane now, they’re going to hate him worse when the game is over because Alabama is going to do to the Vols what it did to Texas A&M last week.
##5 Auburn (5-1, 2-1 SEC) over South Carolina (4-3, 2-3 SEC): Decisions, decisions, decisions! If you’re Gus Malzahn, do you elect to go after South Carolina’s #89 nationally run defense or light up the Gamecocks’ pass defense, which ranks 76th? Why not do both and tune up for next week’s visit to Oxford.
Missouri (5-2, 2-1 SEC) over Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-4 SEC): Vanderbilt is starting its fourth quarterback this season. Missouri wishes it had that luxury but the Tigers are stuck with Maty Mauk, who averaged a rousing 1.1 yards per pass attempt last week against Florida. You will find more excitement on taco night at a retirement village in Port Charlotte.
Arkansas (3-4, 0-4 SEC) over UAB (4-3): When this one was scheduled it was considered a get well game but UAB threw for 435 yards against a very good Mississippi State defense. Guess what Arkansas has trouble defending? Lose this one and the Bret Bielema supporters will begin to thin out a bit.
June Jones, SMU: The Dallas Morning News is reporting that the folks at SMU are ready to offer Mack Brown $4 million a year for eight years to take over now that June Jones is studying the waves over at Hanalei Bay on Kauai.
Charlie Weis, Kansas: Charlie Weis made 1,600 when he took the SAT but wasn’t smart enough to avoid a coaching graveyard like Kansas. Coach O probably made half that on his SAT which might explain his interest in taking the Kansas job.
Larry Blakeney, Troy: Blakeney’s already had his win one for the Gipper moment with that win over New Mexico State the week after he announced his retirement. Last week the Trojans got hosed by Appalachian State, 53-14. It will be worse this week at South Alabama. The end of the season and this coaching career can’t get here soon enough.
Norm Chow, Hawaii: There will be intrigue in Honolulu Saturday night. First, Hawaii has a winnable game with Nevada. Second, Hawaii’s Scott Harding punts with either foot so no one ever knows which one he’ll be using. When you’ve been as bad as Hawaii the last three years, you get your jollies wherever you can.
Brady Hoke, Michigan: The Brady Hoke Farewell Tour makes a pit stop in East Lansing for what promises to be a monumental beatdown. If it’s embarrassing enough, then Hoke will get his ticket to the Extinct Species List.
Will Muschamp, Florida: Muschamp could pull off a Countdown to Firing Day first in the final five weeks of the season. He’s gone from Irregular Heartbeat to Dead Man Walking in a single week. Beat Georgia on November 1 and he’s back to Irregular Heartbeat. Go 4-1 the rest of the way with one of those wins over Florida State or Georgia and he’s Florida’s football coach next season. Count on it.
Bill Blankenship, Tulsa: Blankenship moved on up to the Dead Man Walking List when Tulsa blew a 30-14 second half lead against USF, which closed out the game on a 24-0 run. There is one winnable game remaining on the schedule. He’s as good as gone.
Tim Beckman, Illinois: Money can’t buy you everything. Beckman gets paid a whole lot more money at Illinois in one year than he made in any three as the head ball coach at Toledo. He went to bowl games at Toledo. He plays and loses to a lot of teams that go to bowl games at Illinois. If he’s still employed after this week, he probably won’t be after the next when he has to face the Big Bad Buckeyes.
Paul Petrino, Idaho: The Vandals have a one-game winning streak going which means the Kibbie Dome will be jam packed again Saturday night when Arkansas State comes to town. What is the Kibbie Dome, you ask? Imagine Alabama’s indoor practice facility with 15,000 seats. This is a place where coaching careers come to die.
Bobby Hauck, UNLV: Armed with a one-game winning streak, all Hauck has to do is win five of the last six games to keep his job. That’s all. Seems the folks at UNLV aren’t very happy that (a) they don’t win a lot of games and (b) had such a bad graduation rate that the NCAA banned them from a bowl game this year. Not that they were actually going to get there.
Darrell Hazell, Purdue: The Boilers had their chance to downgrade Hazell to Irregular Heartbeat but they blew their chance to upset Minnesota, dropping a 39-38 decision. The Boilers (3-5) have 300% more wins than last year. There are two chances they make it 400% -- no way and no how.
Kevin Wilson, Indiana: This is the ultimate dilemma for Hoosier fans. They want a new head coach, which is understandable since they lose a lot of football games. But, there are three winnable games remaining on the schedule (Michigan, Rutgers and Purdue) and three wins means a bowl game and a bowl game means Wilson is the head coach next year. No dilemma this week. The Hoosiers don’t play.
Bob Davie, New Mexico: “We’re only a play or two away in four games from being 6-1” they’re fond of saying in Albuquerque. Of course, if a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his butt every time he jumps. There won’t be a close call this week. The Lobos don’t play again until next week against UNLV in what might be a which coach gets fired first game in Las Vegas.
Paul Rhoads, Iowa State: What could be worse for the Cyclones? They lost a winnable game to Texas last week in the final minute and now Big Bad Bob Stoops and Oklahoma come to town a week after losing to K-State when the field goal kicker hooked a 19-yarder. The Cyclones get Kansas next week and then they get to lose the last three to bring the Paul Rhoads era to an end.
Ron Turner, Florida International: Just like brother Norv, Ron is a classic example of the Peter Principle. He’s a fine offensive coordinator. As a head coach he has been promoted beyond his level of competence. Figure the Golden Panthers will finish the year on a six-game losing streak.
Randy Edsall, Maryland: The next three games – at Wisconsin, at Penn State and #8 Michigan State – will remind the folks in College Park that they really don’t like Edsall. Only problem is the entire athletic program is swimming in red ink and they are stuck with him.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska: The folks at Nebraska don’t like Bo even though he wins. He doesn’t like them either. Bo would love to coach somewhere else next year but he’s not going to get the Florida or Michigan jobs and there isn’t another job that pays nearly as well as what he makes at Nebraska ($3 million).
Al Golden, Miami: The alums don’t like and want him gone but he’s not going to get fired this year because school prez Donna Shalayla doesn’t retire until May. As long as she’s the president, Golden is safe.
How much should Jeremy Foley be willing to pay for a new head coach if he decides to cut ties with Will Muschamp?
Fourplay was the brainchild of keyboard genius Bob James, who brought together Harvey Mason (drums), Nathan East (bass) and Lee Ritenour (guitar) back in 1991. James, East and Mason have remained constant with the band, but Ritenour gave way to Larry Carlton in 1997 and Carlton turned the guitar work over to Chuck Loeb in 2010. The band has produced 13 albums including the hot selling 1991 release “Between the Sheets” whose first track is “Chant.” This is a terrific live version from a concert Fourplay did in Capetown, South Africa.