The Gainesville Sun's Pat Dooley is often set out as the figurehead of the media covering the Florida Gators, for good and for bad — no one else has @SadPatDooley — but his sources are many, and his roots very deep in Gainesville. He can write about Steve Spurrier calling him in his writeup of Kurt Roper being hired as Florida's offensive coordinator without it feeling like anything other than the privilege of a institution.
Yes, Dooley misses some things from time to time, most recently reporting that Florida was slowing down its hunt for an offensive coordinator, but he's still got knowledge many would do unspeakable things for, and he can drop juicy tidbits without even having to whisper about them. Like, for example, this one (boldface mine):
There are no guarantees that Roper is the right choice. This wasn't the most attractive job in the world because of the uncertainty — whether perceived or real — about (Muschamp's) future. Some candidates were eliminated because they found better jobs (Blake Anderson at Arkansas State) and some because they didn't have the right answers in interviews.
Roper was the first candidate who was reported to have interviewed with Muschamp, but the bolded text surely suggests that he wasn't the only one, and likely not the first. At a minimum, I'd guess that the proximity of Blake Anderson's name to the other tidbit suggests he interviewed, and maybe had "the right answers in interviews," whatever those are¹.
This means, likely, that Roper was not Florida's first candidate, and the $600,000 annual salary the Sun is reporting for him certainly suggests that he wasn't a bank-breaking dream candidate. Dooley's "This wasn't the most attractive job in the world" note suggests that candidates may have politely declined Florida's overtures, too.
Taken together, those details paint a picture of Roper as the candidate Muschamp settled for or on — and, if Dooley and Mark Long (who added his own confirmation that Florida would take its time with a hire) had initially solid info on the Gators slowing down their search, it's possible that Muschamp et al. decided on Roper to avoid the possibility of letting the process drag on into late December or January, aggravating the irritation of Florida fans who have been beyond irritated since, oh, October.
None of that conjecture means that Roper won't be a good offensive coordinator at Florida. But some of the optics of the search and his hiring look off to Gators fans, and that won't make them any easier to win back in the near future.
This is the part where a snarkier writer would list a bunch of things about how "running the ball" and "not screwing up" and "getting us 21 points, c'mon" are really "right answers" to Muschamp, but I really don't know what the right answers at this point in time actually are. I think Muschamp's wildest dreams for his offense have always centered around a unit that controls the ball and does enough to keep stress off the defense, and does so with run-pass balance similar to that of Nick Saban's Alabama teams that seem to churn out games with 200 yards passing and 200 yards rushing with regularity, but Muschamp's not the inflexible and backwards buffoon he is sometimes portrayed as, and, as such, I expect his expectations, and maybe his hopes, have become more malleable.
- Kurt Roper salary: New Florida OC to make $600K annually, per report
- Florida hires Duke's Kurt Roper as offensive coordinator
- Chomping at Bits: More on Kurt Roper, Will Muschamp and the Gators' offense
- Chomping at Bits: More on the offensive coordinator search, a 2014 quarterback and Christmas movies
- Reports: Florida offensive coordinator hire not coming until after January 1