Florida coach Will Muschamp will not return to the program next season, SI.com has learned. The fourth-year coach was dismissed on Sunday after going 27-20 overall and 17-15 in SEC play, but he will be allowed to coach the Gators in their final two regular-season games against Eastern Kentucky and at Florida State. Florida officially released the news after Muschamp had a chance to meet with his team, which is 5-4 overall and 4-4 in conference play in 2014.
The final straw for the embattled Muschamp came on Saturday, when Florida blew a seven-point fourth-quarter lead against South Carolina by having a field goal blocked, having a punt blocked and allowing a last-second touchdown that forced overtime. The Gamecocks won 23-20. Florida would’ve had a mathematical chance to capture the SEC East title with a win over South Carolina. (The Gators would have been knocked out of the race later on Saturday when Georgia beat Auburn 34-7.) Muschamp likely would have been dismissed earlier this fall if not for a 38-20 win over Georgia on Nov. 1.
“Upon evaluation of our football program, we are not where the program needs to be and should be. I've always said that our goal at the University of Florida is to compete for championships on a regular basis,” athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement. “Coach Muschamp was dedicated to developing young men both on and off the field. Our student-athletes showed tremendous growth socially and academically under his leadership. His players were involved in campus activities, engaged with the local community and represented the University of Florida with pride."
“I appreciate the opportunity that has been offered to me and my family by Dr. [Bernie] Machen, Jeremy Foley and the University of Florida,” Muschamp said in the release. “I was given every opportunity to get it done here and I simply didn’t win enough games -- that is the bottom line. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get it done and it is my responsibility to get it done."
Muschamp was the Texas defensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting when he was hired by Florida in December 2010 to succeed Urban Meyer. He arrived promising a ferocious defense and a pro-style offense that featured a power-running game. He delivered the defense, but the attack fizzled. Muschamp’s first offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis, left the team after the ’11 season to become the head coach at Kansas. Muschamp’s second offensive coordinator, Brent Pease, was fired after the Gators finished 4-8 in ’13. Muschamp’s third offensive coordinator, Kurt Roper, couldn’t develop a passing game. Florida failed to develop a quarterback who could help the Gators move the ball consistently throughout Muschamp’s entire tenure in Gainesville.
Parting ways at this point means Florida will owe Muschamp about $6 million. It will cost the Gators about $8 million to buy out Muschamp’s entire staff.