University of Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will be the next head coach of the Florida Gators. A press conference is scheduled for Tuesday to introduce the Gainesville native as head coach.
Prior to accepting the job at Florida Muschamp was the “head coach in waiting” at the University of Texas while serving as the defensive coordinator. The head coach in waiting title has become the way to go for some successful programs with older head coaches. Jimbo Fisher, who worked with Muschamp under Nick Saban at LSU, was the coach in waiting at Florida State University before Bobby Bowden stepped down. Muschamp was given the head coach in waiting title in 2008 and as of today was still waiting. No time line was ever given to Muschamp on when he could expect to be the head coach of the Longhorns, although he was given that title after his name surfaced many times to become a head coach at other schools.
While Muschamp’s salary was $900,000 at UT, the coach will receive a pay raise and the opportunity to return home. Muschamp takes over for Urban Meyer, who stepped down unexpectedly on Wednesday. Meyer compiled a 64-15 record at Florida during his tenure. Last season, Meyer took a leave of absence citing health and family concerns.
With the news of Muschamp leaving for Florida, does a head coach in waiting actually work? Clearly it did for Florida State. After Fisher received that title he was stilled being lured by others schools to become their head coach. Perhaps it can work if it is done right. Give the head coach in waiting a time line of when they can expect to be the head coach and if they aren’t the head coach by the time the time line expires then they can freely search for a head coaching position. There was nothing keeping Muschamp in Texas besides the idea that he could one day be the team’s head coach.
Florida got a steal. They got a coach that other teams have wanted in the past. They don’t have to pay a buyout for Muschamp because it wasn’t in the contract. The hire is a bit of a surprise after the program has been so successful the last few season. The Gators coach, before Meyer, was Ron Zook. He, like Muschamp, did not have head coaching experience. Zook lasted three seasons, albeit winning seasons at Florida. Zook led the Gators to 8-5 records in his first two seasons, with an Eastern Division title in 2003, and 7-4 in his final season.
Muschamp will have his work cut out for him. The Gators struggled this season after winning a couple of national titles under Urban Meyer. Reports have surfaces that Major Applewhite will follow Muschamp to Florida from Texas. It seems like a good time for Muschamp to leave with the revised version of the Big 12 Conference and UT now tied into a lawsuit with ESPN.
Time will tell if the former head coach in waiting was indeed ready to be the head coach of a team at this level. Muschamp is a proven assistant after leading defense to national championships at LSU and Texas. He has been widely regarded as one of the top assistants of the last decade, but Will Muschamp is finally a head coach.