Will Muschamp was once regarded as the best young assistant in college football. Muschamp was considered the “coach in waiting” while working as a defensive coordinator under Mack Brown at Texas.
Instead, he accepted the head coaching position at Florida in December 2010. The move marked one of the most disappointing coaching tenures in recent memory.
Muschamp entered as the heir to Urban Meyer, who led the Gators to two national and SEC championships. At the time, the former coordinator was the hottest hire of the offseason and was on the radar of several teams.
His tenure started well with Florida posting back-to-back bowl appearances. The Gators finished 7-6 during Muschamp’s debut and were SEC East champions in 2012.
In Year Three, Florida went 4-8, ending its 22-year streak of bowl appearances. Muschamp entered 2014 on the hot seat and fell short of expectations, opting to step down on Nov. 16 following the conclusion of the regular season.
“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,” he said during a press conference announcing the move.
Following his departure, Muschamp’s name was linked to several major programs in dire need of a defensive coordinator. On Dec. 12, he agreed to a three-year deal at Auburn worth between $1.6 and $1.8 million annually, making him the highest-paid coordinator in college football.
The salary seems high for a coach coming off a disappointing tenure, but Muschamp returns to a program where he gained recognition as one of the nation’s best young coordinators. The coach knows defense and, despite all of his shortcomings at Florida, still managed to prove such in Gainesville.
Muschamp coached teams have ranked in the top-10 in the FBS each year since 2009. Auburn ranked No. 61 overall in 2014 and hasn’t finished higher than No. 60 in the past six seasons.
Like Lane Kiffin, the coach will look to bounce back from a disappointing coaching stint and return to his comfort zone. The coordinator will have the luxury of an uptempo offense working under head coach Gus Malzahn and can put all of his focus into the defensive scheme and recruiting.
Muschamp will bring his trademark intensity to a team that was several plays short of contending for an SEC title. The Tigers should see improvement under the veteran coordinator and will be a threat to Alabama’s chances of repeating as conference champions.