Roper doesn’t regret coming to UF

Kurt Roper took a risk in the offseason. He left Duke and his mentor David Cutcliffe to take the job as Florida’s offensive coordinator, knowing that Will Muschamp was on the hot seat.

The hot seat is no more, as Muschamp was fired on Sunday morning. The risk, including Roper uprooting his wife and children ages two and six, didn’t pay off. When asked by a reporter if he bought a house in Gainesville, Roper said that he did and joked, “are you looking for a house?”

His future is still up in the air and Roper doesn’t know where he’ll be next season. There is a chance he could return to Florida depending on who the head coach is, but Roper said on Tuesday that he’s just focusing on getting the team ready to play on Saturday against Eastern Kentucky.

The risk doesn’t look good from the outside, but Roper has enjoyed his year in Gainesville.

“We love it here. Everybody's been great to us,” Kurt Roper said. “It's a great place. It's a great place to live, great place to coach, great place to be around. Everyone's been great, so we'll miss it. But you look back at that later on.”

Taking the leap of faith meant betting that Will Muschamp would get the program turned around and that he would make a name for himself on the national level by rejuvenating a stale Florida offense. Neither happened. When Roper was asked if he felt responsible for the season failing, he said that everyone in the program shared that weight.

Roper was sold on the person Muschamp was and wanted to work with him in Gainesville. President Bernie Machen and athletic director Jeremy Foley spoke about his character on Monday, and Roper echoed that after seeing it in meeting rooms.

“Working for Will Muschamp is unbelievable,” Roper said. “Everything you're hearing about him is not just people blowing smoke. That's a good person No. 1. and I learned a lot of football from him. I really did. I learned a lot of things.”

The perception from the outside of the program is that Muschamp handcuffed Roper and what he was allowed to do. After quarterback Jeff Driskel turned the ball over too much, the Gators have been run-heavy on offense and seemed to avoid risk as much as possible.

Roper made it clear on Tuesday that Muschamp hasn’t handcuffed him at all this season.

“In my experience, absolutely none of it’s true,” Roper said. “When (I) got here, it was completely, ‘Hey do it how you best see fit.’ And he doesn’t call plays. You know we obviously talk about situations like the end of that game. ‘Do we want to be aggressive or do we want to take the timeout and use the time?’ All of that. But I’m 100 percent on board with any of those decisions that are made. But as far as calling plays, absolutely. He’s been great. He really is.”

Roper is still respected in the coaching community and won’t struggle to find a job next season, even if it’s as a quarterback’s coach, but he does believe that the new coach at Florida will take over a team with plenty of quarterback talent.

“I think there’s some playmaking ability there,” Roper said. “I think there’s some arm talent there. They enjoy football, they like working at it. I think they like being on the practice field. They’re both young and they’ve got to keep growing and understanding how you study as a quarterback. It’s much more than just the weight room and the practice field. Just doing all the little things preparing to be a quarterback. They’re two talented guys and they’re fun to coach.”

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