If I had to make a list of the macro-level mistakes that Will Muschamp has made — or that we can credit almost entirely to Muschamp — it would boil down to these four things.
- Hiring Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator (and Frank Verducci as offensive line coach).
- Allowing the continued erosion of Florida's offensive line through recruiting mismanagement in 2011 and 2012.
- Hiring Brent Pease as offensive coordinator.
- Hiring Tim Davis as offensive line coach.
Of the four, I think Weis is actually the most forgivable: It's not as if it was really Muschamp's fault that Weis didn't have a ton of success in the first year installing his complicated offense, or that Weis bolted for Kansas and a head coach's salary after that one year.
And I think Pease's hiring is, believe it or not, the closest to fully defensible. Pease had significantly more success with the same personnel Weis had, more or less, and his inflexibility and spotty play-calling weren't major issues until 2013, when injuries ransacked his offense, and made it hard to cleanly credit or blame any one person for the offense's failure.
But Florida's struggles in pass protection over the last two years have been blamed largely on miscommunication between Pease and Davis — which was cited as a reason that both were fired after 2013 — and a lack of seedlings to plant in Florida's line, and Muschamp should have foreseen depth problems in 2011 and better evaluated for coaching compatibility when hiring Pease and Davis.
He didn't, and Florida suffered for it. That's unfortunate, but it's also immutable.
What Muschamp could change was his approach to future macro-level decisions based on past ones. And I think he did: Hiring Kurt Roper and Mike Summers gives Florida a battery of offensive coordinator and offensive line coach who seem to have similarly sunny dispositions for the most part, and they fit better with the rest of Florida's offensive staff, which isn't as gruff or aloof as Pease and Davis could be. Given that players have been raving about both coaches being positive all offseason, and about Summers being a "technician" of an offensive line coach, I think that early returns on both hires are promising
Muschamp's also revved up Florida's recruiting on the line: After taking just two linemen in the 2010 and 2011 recruiting classes, Muschamp supplemented another two-lineman class in 2012 with transfers Max Garcia and Tyler Moore, each of whom will play major roles in 2014, and stocked up in the 2013 and 2014 classes with a combined 11 offensive linemen.
And Muschamp's shown this propensity to self-correct before, too: In hiring Pease, he got a slightly more conservative and less pass-happy pro-style offense, one that improved measurably on the offense Weis ran merely by virtue of taking care of the ball.
I think the idea that Muschamp doesn't know what he's doing is mostly a fallacy, but there are good arguments that those four mistakes are all significant, and they've certainly helped leave his job in jeopardy.
If there's a good thing about making mistakes, though, it's learning from mistakes. So far, I think Muschamp's done that.