Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gators Hire Muschamp; Targeting Smart and Applewhite?

The University of Florida has stunned sports prognosticators by naming University of Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp to replace outgoing coach Urban Meyer. Although Muschamp currently works with the Big 10 Longhorns, he has a long history in the SEC; he even played football at the University of Georgia -- a primary rival of the Gators.

Reaction to Muschamp has been pretty solid, although the decision has shocked many observers. Andy Staples of SI.Com, for example, describes the decision to hire Muschamp as "bold" and "intelligent."

Furthermore, the St. Petersburg Times has collected reactions from many major voices in college football, and the reactions are also very positive. Urban Meyer gracefully describes Muschamp as a "great hire," and Tim Tebow is predictably humble and respectful. ESPN's David Ubben says that Muschamp is "arguably, the best defensive coordinator in college football and one of its best recruiters." And the Gainesville Sun's Pat Dooley expects Muschamp to "bring fire" to the Swamp.

Kirby Smart and Major Applewhite Next?
Muschamp's hiring has led to a new round of rumors regarding new staff for Florida. Even before Muschamp was hired, the sports world tried to predict which coach would replace Meyer; these predictions and rumors were way off the mark. Before Meyer resigned, a flurry of rumors surrounded the much-hated Steve Addazio, the current offensive coordinator for the Gators.

Since the announcement that Muschamp would take over as head coach, two significant rumors have emerged. First, several observers predict that Muschamp will try to convince Kirby Smart, currently at Alabama, to become Florida's new defensive coordinator. Smart has a great reputation, and Alabama already gave him a big raise to keep him from going to the University of Georgia. Smart and Muschamp, however, are close friends. Both played for the University of Georgia, and they have worked together as assistant coaches in the past. Perhaps, the Muschamp's relationship with Smart can seal the deal.

Another rumor thread has Major Applewhite, the running backs coach at Texas, joining Muschamp in Florida. The Applewhite chatter, however, is mixed, with some "reliable" sources saying he will remain in Texas and others saying he will move to Florida.

According to one Texas media site, Applewhite told Malcolm Brown, one of the nation's highest ranking running back scouts, that there might be coaching changes in Texas. Brown, however, refused to say whether Applewhite indicated that he would be leaving Texas. Whether or not Applewhite comes to Florida, if the Gators are indeed looking for an offensive coordinator, then this will please many Florida fans who do not want the current coordinator Steve Addazio to remain in his position.

[Editor's Note: Although this is primarily a law and politics blog, I occasionally comment on sports and other matters related to pop culture.]

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