ATHENS – Will Muschamp was going to be fired after last year’s Georgia game, but then his Florida team up and beat its arch-rival. It only postponed the inevitable, however, and two weeks later, when the move was made, Mark Richt was asked for a reaction.
“It’s just the nature of the business, and I wish him well,” Richt said.
Right had no way of knowing it, but the nature of the business ended up having a profound effect not just on Florida, but on Richt’s own program. Muschamp’s firing set in motion a series of coaching dominoes that have seriously altered how things stand a year later:
- Jim McElwain is Florida’s coach now, re-energizing the Gators’ long-dormant offense and threatening to win the SEC East in his first year in Gainesville.
- Mike Bobo, who was Georgias longtime quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, replaced McElwain at Colorado State, earning his long-awaited first head coaching job. But he also leaving behind a Georgia offense he had cultivated and coached for a decade.
- That offense, and the quarterback coaching room, was taken over by Brian Schottenheimer, who largely kept Bobo’s scheme, but made a different choice at quarterback than Bobo might have. At least according to most people.
So far the domino effect it’s working out for Florida and McElwain. Elsewhere, the book is definitely still out.
At Georgia, the offense is off to a bumpy start, ranking 45th nationally in total yardage through seven games. If that held it would be the Bulldogs’ worst offensive ranking since 2010. Brice Ramsey, who many assumed was the heir apparent at quarterback, was passed over in favor of Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert, who has been inconsistent, to put it mildly. (Bobo did try to recruit Lambert to Colorado State this summer, for what it’s worth.)
Richt, when asked this week if the transition to a new quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator was bumpier than he expected, answered by giving an overall defense of Schottenheimer.
“I think coach Schottenheimer is a great coach. I think he knows what he’s doing. I think he knows how to coach QBs extremely well. Got a lot of faith in that,” Richt said. “And, like we said, we’ve had some ups and downs, but the season’s not over yet. I’m in that room most of the time, and I listen to what’s being taught, what’s being coached and how it’s being coached, and I’ve got full faith and confidence that he’s doing an outstanding job. We’ve just got to continue to get better as we go, and I think we will.”
Meanwhile, here’s an update on the others affected:
- Colorado State is 3-4, with two of the losses coming to Power 5 teams (Minnesota and Colorado, each by three points), another to Boise State, and the fourth at Utah State. Entering the season Bobo’s new team was picked to finish third in its division, so it’s about on par with expectations.
- Through six games – less than half the NFL regular season – the St. Louis Rams rank 31st in the NFL in total offense. During Schottenheimer’s tenure (2012-14) the Rams ranked 23rd, 30th and 28th.
- Muschamp now coaches Auburn’s defense, where a first-year turnaround has yet to materialize. The Tigers rank 100th nationally in total defense, 34 spots worse than where they finished last year.
Obviously this is all still very early. Muschamp looked great after his second year at Florida, when he guided the Gators to 11 wins and the Sugar Bowl. Things can turn badly very quick, or get good quickly. Georgia and Schottenheimer could go on a roll all the way to an SEC championship, starting with a win Saturday.
For now, however, there’s probably a few people wondering just how different things would look had Muschamp either stayed at Florida, or if the Gators had made another choice. One seemingly isolated decision can lead to huge, unanticipated ripples.