Muschamp has been chomped.
After a home loss to South Carolina Saturday, Jeremy Foley – the University of Florida’s Athletic Director – announced Sunday that head coach Will Muschamp will step down at the end of the season, according to a release on Gatorzone.com.
The Gators’ 23-20 overtime loss to the Gamecocks, their fourth consecutive loss in The Swamp, was the final straw.
“Upon evaluation of our football program, we are not where the program needs to be and should be,” Foley said. “I’ve always said that our goal at the University of Florida is to compete for championships on a regular basis.”
The 11-win season in 2012 showed promise for the Gators, but after last season’s 4-8 record, Muschamp needed forward momentum to come back from the disappointing season. Although the unexpected win against Georgia was Muschamp’s first in four years, the losses against Alabama, LSU, Missouri and South Carolina eventually outweighed it.
“I appreciate the opportunity that has been offered to me and my family by Dr. Machen, Jeremy Foley and the University of Florida,” said Muschamp. “I was given every opportunity to get it done here and I simply didn’t win enough games – that is the bottom line. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get it done, and it is my responsibility to get it done.”
Florida’s loss started with Gators kicker Frankie Velez’s blocked kick, which then led to a blocked punt and a South Carolina touchdown–tying the game with only 12 seconds left.
The Gators completed a field goal in overtime, but it wasn’t enough. After driving 25 yards in seven plays, the Gamecocks quarterback ran the ball in for a winning touchdown.
“When you get two blocked kicks with 3:30 to go in the game, it will cost you the football game,’’ Muschamp said. “I don’t know what else to say other than that. I’m very disappointed to lose that football game.”
As the season comes to a close with the Gators playing Eastern Kentucky at home on Nov. 22 and FSU in Tallahassee on Nov. 29, Foley will begin the search for a new coach.
“I will be forever grateful to Will and his staff for their unwavering commitment to the University of Florida and the mission of our athletic program,” Foley said. “He will be missed by everyone in our athletic department – from the people that worked in his office to the people that painted the fields. Will knew everyone and they knew him and everyone in the building loved working with him. Will is as fine a man as you will ever meet, and I will always cherish our relationship with him and his family.”
Muschamp’s football career started when he was a walk-on at Georgia in the early 1990s, which led to a graduate assistant position at Auburn in 1995. He was a defensive coordinator for the LSU Tigers, Miami Dolphins, Auburn Tigers and Texas Longhorns before accepting his first head coaching position with the Gators in 2011.
When signing with Florida, Muschamp agreed to 5 years – 2011 through 2015 – for $13,752,000 with an optional sixth year in 2016 to total $16,502,400. Upon termination by the University Athletic Association without cause, his contract states Muschamp is entitled to a $2 million payout for each year not fulfilled.
After taking over the program from Urban Meyer in 2011, Muschamp’s record was 7-6, winning about 53 percent of the games. He went on to coach the Gators to a 24-17 victory over Ohio State in the Gator Bowl.
In 2012, the Gators were tied at the No. 1 ranking with Georgia for the SEC East after a 11-2 season. Muschamp was named SEC Co-Coach of the Year along with Kevin Sumlin from Texas A&M – this was the first Coach of the Year honor for UF since Spurrier in 1996, according to Gatorzone.com.
The third year of Muschamp’s coaching marked the decline of Florida’s football program. During the 2013 season, Florida went 4-8, winning only 33 percent of the games, with a disappointing loss to Georgia Southern at home.
This season, Muschamp won his first game against Georgia, but after the loss to South Carolina, the Gators are 5-4 and have dropped to 4-4 in the SEC. Florida has lost six of the last eight home games dating back to last season.
Upon entering the game Saturday, the Gators’ potential for a division title was still alive, but Florida’s loss to the Gamecocks in overtime destroyed the possibility.
Muschamp finished 27-20 at UF, including 17-15 in the SEC.
“I have no bitter feelings, but this is a business, and I wish we would have produced better results on the field,” Muschamp said. “We have a great group of players and a staff that is committed to this University and this football program. They have handled themselves with class, and I expect them to continue to do so. As I’ve said many times, life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond.”