Will Muschamp and the South Carolina Gamecocks are currently on a three-game winning streak. On Saturday, a new streak for Muschamp will begin.
Saturday’s matchup between Florida and South Carolina will be the first game that Will Muschamp has coached against the Gators since getting fired from Florida after the 2014 season. Once the game is over, Muschamp will be eiter 0-1 or 1-0 against his former team.
When Urban Meyer left Florida and went to Ohio State, it left a major void in the college football world. Florida had been one of the top programs in the country during his tenure, and the Gators needed someone who could carry the torch once he left. At the time, Will Muschamp seemed like a perfect fit.
During Muschamp’s tenure as defensive coordinator at Texas, the Longhorns led the Big 12 in total defense each of the three years that he was there. In 2008, after his first season as coordinator, the University of Texas announced that Muschamp would take over for then-head coach Mack Brown whenever Brown decided to retire. Muschamp had the whole world in his hands. If he continued to produce great defenses, he had one of the best jobs in college football lined up in his sights. All he had to do was wait.
Then things got dicey.
After making it to the BCS National Championship game in 2009, Texas would finish one game short of bowl eligibility the following season. Muschamp’s defenses continued to dominate, but the offense couldn’t produce. Mack Brown still had his job, but the program was trending downward. The question was no longer when Mack Brown would retire, it was when he would be fired.
Muschamp had a choice. He could take over a struggling Texas squad — if Texas would still allow him on staff — or he could skip town, just like Urban Meyer did. Coincidentally enough, he took over for Meyer and was named the head coach of the Florida Gators.
Success was waiting for him in Gainesville — or so he thought. A 7-6 record in his first season raised some eyebrows. He had a talented roster, but it was only his first year. In time, he would surely point the Gators in the right direction.
His time came.
2012 looked like a masterpiece. Florida nearly had a perfect record, only losing to Georgia in the regular season. They were given a Sugar Bowl bid with a matchup against Louisville. Surely the SEC would flex its muscle against a team from the Big East, right? Maybe not.
Florida was beaten badly by the Cardinals, 33-23. Halfway through the fourth quarter, the Gators were down 33-10 to Louisville, but eventually closed the gap. Losing in the nature that they did left a bad taste in the mouth of the team and Florida faithful alike.
They would taste that for the rest of Muschamp’s tenure at Florida.
Just one year after a Sugar Bowl appearance, Florida finished fifth in the SEC East with a 4-8 (3-5 SEC) record in 2013. The 2014 season was slightly better — the Gators finished 7-5 (4-4 SEC) — but it wasn’t enough to save Muschamp’s job.
Dreams of championships seemed realistic for Will Muschamp. What had evaded him at Texas was sure to come at Florida — or so he thought. As quickly as those dreams came, nightmares took their place.
It’s time for Muschamp to wake up. He leads a new team now that’s won its past three games. South Carolina can secure its fourth straight and most important victory of the season with a win against Florida on Saturday.
If the Gators can win out in conference play, they’ll make it to the SEC Championship. A loss, however, would likely leave room for Tennessee to sneak in to Atlanta.
For Muschamp and the Gamecocks, a win on Saturday would secure bowl eligibility. What better time to do it than against his former team.
Now, in his first season at South Carolina, Muschamp has a chance to sour Florida’s season once again. This time, however, it would be according to plan.
Edited by Adam Milliken
Featured image by arctic_whirlwind