Florida will fire Will Muschamp at some point this year. It may be after the season. It may be today. It may be tomorrow. It may be after another dispirting, disappointing, embarrassing loss.
But the bottom line is that Muschamp remaining Florida's head coach beyond this season is no longer an acceptable prospect for the vast, vast majority of stakeholders in the Gators — a new development after last night's agonizing blowout loss to Missouri, which flipped even most pro-Muschamp fans, like myself, into the camp of the discontented.
And so he must be fired, and fired sooner rather than later.
Jeremy Foley has been Muschamp's staunchest supporter in public, saying in 2013 that he was "one thousand percent" behind Muschamp and asserting in September that Muschamp would get the entire 2014 season. And he might still get the entire 2014 season: The alternatives to letting Muschamp coach out the string aren't all that appealing, in truth.
But Muschamp remaining as coach without a declaration that he will not return — or, hypothetically, a declaration that he will, the sort one might give a coach whose team's issues could be attributed to copious injuries — serves no purpose. No Florida fan with half a brain thinks he'll be back, and the number of Gators who want to watch another game with Muschamp in charge of this team is in triple digits, if that. No recruit with half a brain could possibly think he'll be their coach in 2015 and beyond at Florida, either, even if some recruits likely still, amazingly, want to play for him.
He is a dead man walking, a lame duck, a laughingstock.
And even though I still like him very much personally, and believe he's a good coach and a good man, and think he will eventually have significant success as a head coach in college football, I don't want Will Muschamp to coach another game for Florida.
Last night's game was as painful as any experience I have had as a Florida fan, and I saw five of Florida's eight losses last season in person, including the ones to Miami and Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern, and both losses in 2012, and others in 2010 and 2011.
The Florida defense played out of its mind in that game, even down 42 points in the third quarter, and allowed exactly as many points (if not crediting it with the two-point conversion after Missouri's punt return touchdown, which seems unfair) as Florida's offense scored. But because Missouri's special teams and defense each scored at least 14 points (again, special teams touchdowns turned into 15 points, not 14), and because Mizzou delivered a mortal wound on the opening kickoff, and because Jeff Driskel was as bad as a quarterback can be, and because there were no better options, there was no hope of victory.
Hope has been a constant on tap under Muschamp, despite all the odds and all the pain, though some of us drank it for much longer than others.
In the midst of a historically bad season in 2013, Florida lost just three games by more than single digits. In the losses prior to 2013, and the two this season before this Saturday's debacle, there was always enough defense and competency beyond Florida's offense to believe that getting the offense fixed would make things better, that time would heal some wounds and development would restore power to perhaps the powerhouse program in college football over the previous two decades.
There is no hope today. It was all extinguished last night, probably just after Driskel's pick-six, and nothing will reignite that flame.
Hope is the easiest thing for anyone to buy. It is a more evanescent, less specific form of desire — desire, in its many forms, controls what humans do, I believe — and it is intoxicating, and it is the sort of thing that is so freely available that it can be bought anywhere, anytime, at any price.
No one is buying hope from Will Muschamp, or from a Florida program that employs him, today, or ever again. And so he must go, so we may get our hope from something, somewhere, and someone else.