With bowl season beginning and holidays upon us, the big news in our Footprint is the gigantic transformation of the coaching hierarchy in the state of Florida. Do you realize that one-season ‘veteran’ Jimbo Fisher of Florida State is now the dean of the BCS coaches in the Sunshine State (barely beating out Skip Holtz of USF)? And how about that the Florida State and Florida head coaches share a beach house in the Panhandle?! These are definitely interesting times in the Sunshine State.
We’ll start in Gainesville, where Florida decided to go with an SEC legacy in Will Muschamp to replace Urban Meyer. Many pundits around the country were surprised the Gators went with a coordinator who has never been a head coach. Names like Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (a former UF defensive coordinator), Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh and Chris Petersen of Boise State were tossed out as candidates, but in the end, the intense Muschamp was the man athletic director Jeremy Foley wanted.
Muschamp grew up in Gainesville and walked on at Georgia. He’s coached in the conference at LSU and Auburn, and he understands the grind that is SEC coaching. Urban Meyer had incredible success at Florida, but that grind seemed to wear him down quickly. Muschamp reminds some of a younger Bob Stoops, and he understands the expectation level in Gainesville:
"We're not a five-year plan here," Muschamp said. "We understand the expectations at Florida, and the expectations are to win championships."
Further south in the Sunshine State, another huge hire was made when the ‘Canes named Al Golden as the successor to Randy Shannon. The ‘U’ was an elite program for 25 years, but the level of football has dipped since Butch Davis’ departure. Golden rebuilt the Temple program from nothing and has also coached in the ACC. It may seem like a gamble to some UM fans because of his lack of sizzle, but Golden is considered one of the most organized and respected coaches in the country.
Shannon did a good job of cleaning up the Miami program, and he recruited well during his tenure. However, the former Cane could not translate his recruiting to success on the field. Miami has not been to the ACC Championship Game since joining the league, and a change was needed. Golden should be a solid choice in Coral Gables. He will recruit the fertile south Florida gridirons and should produce a better product on the field as the Canes look forward to returning to prominence.
Other Coaching News
Vanderbilt looked to have a shot at filling their coaching vacancy with red-hot Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, but he decided to stay on the Plains as one of the highest paid assistants in the country. Instead the Commodores will turn to Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin, also a highly respected coach. Franklin has been tabbed as one of the best recruiters in the nation, as well as being a top offensive mind. If the VU administration will give him the resources to hire a quality staff and make facility improvements, Franklin can build on the moderate success seen under Bobby Johnson.
We all know that the Vandy job is a tough challenge, but Franklin believes the school’s academic standards can be a positive:
“We can have the best of everything,” said Franklin. “That’s something to be very proud of. That’s something you can sell. We are going to be able to attract the brightest and the best from all over this country. To me, it’s time that this football program starts reflecting everything else on this campus.”