Opening at Florida? Be afraid, be very afraid

A few down years have a lot of people wondering just where Florida can go get a football coach. But if you pay attention to the national media, they understand that the Florida job is a hot ticket to stardom for the right guy and that almost anyone in the college game can be had.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier was fielding questions last week, even before Will Muschamp was dismissed as the Florida Gators head coach. The 69 year old Spurrier was the guy that got Florida off the mat so to speak, when he began a run of SEC Championships in the 1991 season that also included the school’s first national championship.

Spurrier having coached the Gators for 12 years and fielding six SEC Championship teams is finishing his 10th season as the South Carolina head man without an SEC title, but having his team among the top teams in the nation for most of his tenure in Columbia.

While Spurrier is likely a bit older than what Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley is shooting for as the next coach to guide the Gators, his persona is the type that Foley wants to lead the Gators in the upcoming years.

A big buyout for Muschamp may have been a big issue in the past, but Foley is changing the way he has approached the job in the past. The pressure to succeed this time has him looking at everyone, and the national media understands it.

As the leader of the University Athletic Association Foley really hasn’t been that skimpy on coaches’ salaries. Steve Spurrier was the first two millions dollar a year coach under Foley’s watch and was awarded for his fantastic coaching.

Urban Meyer demanded a hefty raise from Utah and got one. He started at two million dollars when he came to Florida, by the time five years and two national championships into his tenure at Florida, Meyer was the highest paid coach in the SEC at the time in 2009, having accrued raises and adjusting his income to 4 million dollars per year.

Foley did drop back down a little when hiring Will Muschamp, a move some may construed as going cheap. But, Florida’s ultra-successful all-sports leader thought he saw something in Muschamp that would lead to great things down the road. That doesn’t mean he needed to pay him more than the market dictated. After a very successful 2012 season Muschamp was making three million a year.

The fact is, the likelihood of hiring a coordinator that hasn’t been a successful head coach at the college or NFL level is just not going to happen this time around. Foley is going to shoot for the stars. And he knows that means the money will have to be spent.

Foley actually discussed this on Monday, which may have been a big surprise to a lot of people in attendance at the media event held to talk about the coaching search.

“A lot of people are paying their coaches a lot of money and there may be people that are movable or not movable, but (we) haven't jumped into that and we will find more about that in the next few weeks.”

That is a warning to all the big time programs out there, or all the programs out there with big time coaches.

The media has been all over it and the questions have come from coast to coast.

Top 10 Ole Miss has a head coach in Hugh Freeze that is someone the gators could likely target. He is already fielding questions about the opening at Florida.

“I don’t discuss my job status, good or bad. Nothing good comes from that,” Freeze, who has a career record of 23-13, said Monday in this article. “My family is extremely happy in Oxford. I love working for Chancellor Dan Jones and Ross Bjork. My total focus is on Arkansas.”

Florida raided Texas for would have been their next coach when they grabbed Muschamp from his ‘coach in waiting’ status in Austin. It appears the natives in Austin are getting restless with head coach Charlie Strong who has been an assistant at Florida on five different occasions.

“I have a great job here,” Strong said on Monday and you can read about it here. “There's still a lot of work to get done here."

The state of Oklahoma is going to be busy shielding all the job questions this year. Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy is a highly thought of coach with a rapid fire offense in most years and has really over produced at a place that is hard to do so.

“That's crazy," Gundy replied quickly when asked about any interest in the Florida job found in this article. "I just don't have any interest in that, I'm just worried about tomorrow's practice. I don't think there's any question most people in the country would say that Florida is one of the top 10 programs in the country tradition-wise and history-wise so is that a credit to the school here and the football program, I would say it is."

Oklahoma University coach Bob Stoops has been in Norman since 1999, has a national championship and eight Big-12 championships to his name in his 15 years so far. He’s been talked about for the Florida job all three times it has come open in the last 11 years. He will be mentioned a lot between now and the time the job is filled.

“I’m not a candidate for any job,” Stoops said earlier this week in direct reference to the Florida opening found in this story. “Whether anyone ever contacts me, I won’t say one way or another.”

Not exactly the denial a lot of Stoops fans in Oklahoma would look for.

And would Foley go into the SEC and another school from the conference to get the coach he wants. I think so, and so do some media who had to ask Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, absolutely one of the hottest new coaches in the business.

"I've got one of the best jobs in college here at Auburn, and (I'm) totally committed to that," Malzahn said on Monday when asked the same as the others.

Most of the coaches above fit the criteria Foley is looking for to a tee. He is looking for a coach that has already been successful for a period of time in college, but also a guy that has shown he puts a precedence on a high octane offense. He tells us that next guy has to be proven that way.

“We would obviously like an individual that's been successful on the offensive side of the ball,” Foley said Monday. I think obviously that's what the Gator Nation wants and we see that and that's what we're certainly going to try to provide for them.”

With Will Muschamp he hired a defensive guy that never in charge of an offensive unit and never proved to have success. He knows he is going to have to pay for that part of the resume in his next coach. He is prepared to do that.

Programs with this kind of coach better be afraid, very afraid.

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