SEC Coach Rankings: Day 7

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comJune 11, 2014 

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp on the sidelines as Florida defeated Kentucky 24-7 on Saturday September 28, 2013 in Lexington, Ky. Photos by Mark Cornelison | Staff

MARK CORNELISON — Herald-Leader

Editor's note: Bryant. Vaught. Jordan. Dooley. Neyland. These are just a handful of the coaches (among many others) who have come to define the Southeastern Conference due to their dynamic personalities and remarkable success on the field. But who are the top coaches roaming the sidelines of SEC schools today? Ryan Black gives his take, counting down from 14-1. Today, the series moves on to No. 8.

8. Will Muschamp, Florida

Record: 22-16 overall (Spent past three seasons with Gators; went 4-8 overall last year and 3-5 in SEC play)

National championships: 0 (Was defensive coordinator for LSU when Tigers won BCS title in 2003)

SEC championships: 0 (Was assistant at LSU when Tigers won SEC titles in 2001 and 2003)

SEC division titles: 0 (Was assistant at LSU when Tigers won Western Division in 2001 and 2003)

Eighth seems to be a fair place to put Muschamp among his conference brethren. After all, his three seasons at Florida to this point have all been wildly different.

There was the 7-6 debut in 2011. That was followed by an 11-win campaign in 2012. Finally, the Gators bottomed out last year, going 4-8 and missing a bowl for the first time since they were on NCAA probation in 1990.

So yeah, last season was one to forget in Gainesville.

Now the question becomes this: Which Muschamp is the real Muschamp? Is it the coach who helped the Gators eke out all those close wins in 2012? Is it the one who couldn't find a way to right the ship last year? Or is the truest measure of his coaching acumen the 7-6 effort in Year 1?

Sure, 7-6 at some places is fine. But Florida isn't most places. Steve Spurrier elevated the program out of the abyss in the 1990s to make it one of the nation's best. Urban Meyer got it back to that level after the ill-fated Ron Zook era. In Meyer's six-year tenure, the Gators won 65 games, appeared in the SEC championship game three times (winning two) and captured a ear

So the bar is set quite high. The fact that Muschamp still has a job after last season says a lot; heck, he had only one more win than Gene Chizik did in 2012. Even with a national championship in hand, that didn't keep Auburn's coach from getting canned after he went 3-9 two years ago.

Following the debacle that was last season, Muschamp overhauled his offensive staff, bringing in Duke's Kurt Roper as the new coordinator. And Roper's success — or lack thereof — in getting the most out of quarterback Jeff Driskel could hold the key to Muschamp's future at Florida. The defense, as it has been under Muschamp's watch, should be fine. It's the offense that has been the problem, ranging from merely average to downright anemic.

Which brings us to the bottom line: The Gators have to turn things around immediately. Another losing season won't be tolerated.

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