Nice Knowing Ya, Gators

So, Will Muschamp, the new head coach of Florida, has decided to ditch the spread option offense–which won the Gators two titles in the last five seasons–in favor of a pro-style attack.

This despite having two spread-style quarterbacks on the roster, including Jordan Reed, who I think, with the right coordinator, has the ability to put up Cam Newton-like numbers.

Perhaps Muschamp thinks Texas’s switch to a pro-style scheme this year paid huge dividends.  The Longhorns went 5-7, after all.  Maybe he thinks pro-style schemes actually work in college football, even though the evidence says they don’t. 

It all adds up to a disastrous hire for Florida and, as a result, I doubt we’ll see much from the Gators on the national scene for a while.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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24 Responses to Nice Knowing Ya, Gators

  1. JMod December 15, 2010 at 5:15 pm #

    I agree with you that the spread is an effective offense in college football for two reasons:

    – It is relatively easy to understand and so it is easier to put into place within the limited time that coaches spend with their players
    – It is effective even if you have players on the field that aren’t the best athletes, but is super effective if you do have the best athletes (Oregon, Auburn)

    However, a pro-style attack can still be effective if the program using it has the recruiting prowess to get the best athletes to run within the system. Florida has these resources.

    I believe you are sort of cherry picking when you cite Texas as an example of a pro-style attack that has not been effective. For example, the best offense I can think of in college football in the past decade is probably USC in 2004, which was a pro-style attack (that’s me cherry picking a counter argument). Also, Florida ran a spread this past season and it got them a pretty mediocre record.

    Since Muschamp is a defense-first type coach I think Florida having success in a pro-style attack will hinge on two things 1) hiring the proper OC and 2) recruiting the proper players.

    I will reserve judgment on Jordan Reed since I haven’t seen him play much but I would have to say that if he was truly able to “put up Cam Newton-like numbers” I’m sure we would have seen him on the field more this past season.

    I think it’s a little premature to call the Muschamp hire a disaster.

  2. AUman76 December 15, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    maybe Reed would like to mosey on over to the Plains? Seems to be working well for another former UF QB. Meyer was 0-2 against the Tigers including their 2006 NC season. We rotate back onto their schedule in 2011. Hummm maybe urvain left before he had to try to grad the Tigers by the tail again? Seems slayer evans has it backwards in his trash piece…..Florida is a helluva lot more worried about the rest of the SEC than we are of UF at this time. Will they win again and soon? Yep but it won’t be instant success.
    Meyer was the only SEC coach not to vote Auburn #1 does that tell you something about his jealous nature and huge ego? Even a bammer writer made his opinion made on the subject. He says UF may nbeed that extra vote someday but may not find it on BCS invite day. UF will better off the sooner urvain vacates the state. He wants to be at ND or duhOveratedSuckeyeUnics anyways. I know it’s childish but it’s also fun to BS a lil.

  3. a December 16, 2010 at 2:18 am #

    Were you high when you wrote this? USC ran a pro style offense during it’s reign of terror in the Pac-10, and Stanford is 11-1 this year because it resembles an NFL farm team for Andrew Luck.

  4. Jams December 16, 2010 at 4:57 am #

    Goodness, HP, is the post-Heisman lull so bad that you have to troll this hard for page visits?

    Then again, you got me to comment, so…

  5. V.G. December 16, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Um, quick question, HP, feel free not to answer, but:

    You do know that John Brantley is not one of those two names, right?

    Sure, he’s admitted that he is open to transferring, but as a UF student, judging from what I’ve seen, I’m certainly impressed so far.

    And if pro-style offenses didn’t help USC win national titles earlier last decade, what did?

  6. Heismanpundit December 16, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    Okay, let’s get a few things clear fellas:

    1. I was probably the first person to opine that Urban Meyer would dominate the SEC. So, this is not some kind of anti-Florida vendetta.

    2. USC did not run a pro-style offense when it won back-to-back titles. It ran Norm Chow’s offense, which is most definitely not an NFL offense. It had neither the nomenclature, nor the scheme that most pro offenses have. It utilized deception much of the time and tried to spread the field with the passing game. So, not a pro-style offense.

    3. Most pro style offenses just don’t work well in college football. They take a long time for players to learn. They are complicated and, furthermore, they do not take advantage of defenses by spreading the field. Florida will have to undergo a major transition to get to this type of offense…for a very questionable dividend!

    4. The last college team to win the national title with a real pro style offense was…..who? The spread has been dominant, winning most of the titles in the past half a decade.

    5. Florida’s personnel is still suited for the spread.

    All those reasons add up to this being a real dumb move on Muschamp’s part.

  7. j December 16, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    Im still not buying it dude. Urban Meyer(among others) enjoyed much of his success PARTLY because the spread has become more and more pervasive in CFB as his career has progressed.

    But now that it’s the glamorous offense to run, defenses are becoming more and more aware of whats coming at them. Therefore, its not really fooling anyone anymore.

    And yes, I realize that Meyer and Mullen in no way invented the spread. They merely helped popularize it, and capitalized off of it.

    But now i think, the newness is wearing off. The spread is old hat now. Maybe its time to switch it up.

    And maybe it wont work out. But to say “Nice knowing ya, Gators”? Give me a break dude. You sound foolish

  8. Heismanpundit December 16, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    There are always new permutations one can bring to an offense. Look at the pistol, currently the new rage. Or the fast-tempos of Oregon and Auburn. I’d say the spread is still doing quite well, thank you.

    Offenses that are NOT doing quite well are offenses grounded in NFL schemery. See: USC, Washington, etc. By all means, if you want Florida’s offense to be like those teams, go for it. I think it’s a bad idea that will put the Gators on the backburner nationally until they change back to something innovative.

    Remember, I predicted the rise of Florida. So, maybe instead of saying I sound foolish, you should actually take heed.

  9. a December 16, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

    USC’s offense was 31st in the nation this year even though they had no depth and nothing to play for, while Stanford’s was 14th. Your argument that offenses “grounded in NFL schemery” are doing poorly seems a tad misguided in light of that.

  10. Brett December 16, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    I really hope Muschamp picks Urban Meyer’s brain like he said he would at his introductory press conference and at least goes to some type of combination between a pro-style and spread offense, like many pundits have predicted the future offenses of college football would head.

    As a supposed defensive guru, wouldn’t you think Muschamp would want to run an offense that he least likes facing as a D coordinator? I can’t imagine that would be a pro-style offense at the college level. Seems like Texas had the most problems with Oklahoma and Texas Tech when those teams were slinging the ball all over the field.

    Not to mention that as a Gator fan, I don’t want to watch a boring, ball-control offense on a weekly basis. I’m pretty sure that’s not the fit into Gainesville’s culture Jeremy Foley was talking about in his hire.

  11. David December 16, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    It’s a pretty strong statement to say pro-style offenses don’t work in college football. This could be disastrous for Florida, but if so I think it’d be much more so because the Gator’s roster and recruiting have focused on getting and developing players specifically for the spread than because of the supposed inferiority of the pro-style offense in college. As Michigan showed the previous two years, the wrong personnel and rigid coaching philosophy can result in disaster.

  12. Rob K December 17, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    “2. USC did not run a pro-style offense when it won back-to-back titles. It ran Norm Chow’s offense, which is most definitely not an NFL offense. It had neither the nomenclature, nor the scheme that most pro offenses have. It utilized deception much of the time and tried to spread the field with the passing game. So, not a pro-style offense.”

    1.) Please give your definition of the Spread (because I assume Reed couldn’t run the Texas Tech spread or the OU spread to the same level that other “pocket-passers” could) vs. your definition of the pro-style offense?

    2.) From what I remember the Norm’s offense was very similar to the Air Croyell offense, which is general regarded as a precursor to the Bill Walsh…”pro-style west coast offense.” I also do not remember seeing the common shifting that occurs in a gimmick offense like BSU. Yes, they did have motion, but so does the Patriots and Steelers.

    3.) Even if you want to call it a “non-pro-style offense”…the system still resembles a pro-style offense more than it does any other system in college football, because it required the QB to drop from center and complete 5 and 7 step drops (the reason Davis hired Kiffin to coach the raiders). It may not perfectly resemble the complexity of a Charlie Weis playbook in the pro. But, it fits the generally accepted rules of a pro-style offense.

    3.) If you want a list of schools that played pro-style offenses that won recent national championships…OSU 2002, Miami 2001, Tenn. 1998 and Michigan 1997. This does include teams (that were one loses from playing for a NC…this year (Stanford) Michigan (2006)). Those are off the top of my head.

  13. Michael December 17, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    You sort of defeat your own argument when you point out that the offenses commonly described as “pro-style” (e.g. 2004 USC) are rarely anything like what’s run in the NFL. If Muschamp says he’s going to run a pro-style offense, it could mean he’s hiring the ghost of Bill Walsh, or merely that qb is going to be under center a lot, since that’s about the only constant among offenses described as “pro-style”.

    2009 Alabama was often described as pro-style.

  14. PJ December 17, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    It’s funny to watch people comment and expect HP to atone for his mis-guided quotes. It won’t happen. He never admits folly on this board especially when it comes to the spread or the PAC 10.

    With regards to UF’s eventual demise…Alabama, LSU, and to some extend Florida won championships because of DEFENSE. I like the spread but it’s not the ONLY way to win.

  15. Travis December 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    I’ll start this off by saying that I’m a Gator fan. Now that’s out of the way.

    Even in the Ron Zook years, UF was still a good team. Not a championship contender, but a good team. Muschamp has had some excellent defenses and will continue to do so at Florida.

    I’m really surprised to see Hp post something like this. This seems a little premature. Especially since UF hasn’t hired an OC yet!

    Let’s wait an see who is hired and which players stay, along with the recruiting class before writing off the UF program for the next few years…

    GO GATORS!!!!!

  16. HP December 17, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

    RobK: you prove my point: a pro-style offense hasn’t won since 2001, when Miami ran it, but it needed OVERWHELMING NFL TALENT to be great.

    The point is, why go away from what works (the spread)? Why go toward what doesn’t work (pro-style offenses)?

    Florida is making a grave mistake. You guys will come back here in a couple years and either make excuses or admit I was right.

  17. AUman76 December 18, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

    HP, that Miami with all that talent is in the same state of Florida which UF has dominated for years. Of all teams in this nation the Gaytors will have no problem getting talent for any style offense. You are makin a mistake with your statement. You will, I mean should cause you won’t ever do it, come back here and admit I’m right or make excuses about why UF was able to beat a spread offense while running a pro style offense. Just my opinion so now we wait and see what actually happens huh? It may not be PC to say it anymore but I don’t give a damn, Merry Christmas HP.

  18. Ed Newman December 20, 2010 at 8:25 am #

    You are all right about one thing. HP won’t ever admit he was wrong about this one. Unless UF makes BCS bowl games 3 of every 5 years, he’ll claim they weren’t as successful as they could have been. Their offense was the weak point holding back a dominant D. Or he’ll say that despite the pro style name, the offense was in fact not pro style at all, but some hybrid of another offense. Just wait and see.

    That’s if he’s wrong. I don’t think he is.

    UF will be good, better than the Zook years and not as good as the Spurrier and Meyer years. They’ll win some east division titles and maybe make a BCS bowl game or two, but not be in serious NC game contention too often. Most years they’ll fall somewhere in the 30-15 range in end of year rankings. This won’t be good enough for the UF fan base and Muschamp will be looking for a job within 6 years.

    Best case scenario in my opinion: they’ve just hired John Cooper 2.0*. Good coach, but not quite good enough.

    *in terms of results not style of play or philosophy.

    • Heismanpundit December 23, 2010 at 10:23 am #

      Ed, I’ve never seen someone rip me while agreeing with me. Interesting.

  19. AUman76 December 20, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    Ed…I hope you’re right but don’t sale the gators short yet. Boom…may not have been the best choice at this moment but he will recruit in that state. Look what we’d done at Auburn in such a short time under a guy I didn’t think had a chance in hell of winning. Muschamp actually followed Chizik at Auburn then on to Texas when Chiz went to Iowa St. He’s a high energy coach and will field some lights out defenses that won’t need a lot of points to win. The key will be who he choses to run the offense. Meyer just didn’t have the physical toughness to handle the stress of the SEC. It’s brutal trying to stay on top down here and to win 2 BCSNC’s in such a short time made it hard to live up to his own standards. Still see Urbie at ND someday.

  20. Ed Newman December 21, 2010 at 9:23 am #


    The Zooker didn’t (and still doesn’t) have recruiting issues, he had coaching issues. Muschamp won’t be that bad, but I don’t see him as the next Meyer or Saban either (let’s face the fact that he has a really high standard to live up to and he’s never been a head coach). Chizik was and still is a surprise. We’ll see if he can actually build a program or if this year was lightning in a bottle. Is he the guy who is responsible for the success or is he a guy who got a little lucky with talent (Newton) and good coordinators? I think he is pretty good, but until he has to replace some coordinators we just don’t know. He’s following a great pattern though. Some of the best guys out there (Tressel, Meyer, Stoops) all had great success in their second years at their big-boy schools!

  21. AUman76 December 23, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    HP…there’s always a first time, haven’t you heard that one?

  22. A Williams January 2, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Florida won 2 NCs not because of their spread offense, but because of 1) great defenses (all kinds of NFL talent) and 2) incredible talent on offense (Tebow, Harvin, Pouncy, Hernandez, L Murphy, Nelson et. al.). 3) Maybe 3rd is the scheme, but it didn’t produce much for the Gators this year when their offense was anemic. Heck they won their bowl game in spite of their offense – D and special teams beat PSU.

    Pouncy is in the pro-bowl, Harvin, Hernandez, Nelson and Murphy are impact players/starters on their teams and Tebow may prove to be a starter. That’s not scheme, that’s talent. And the defensive side had similar talent: Spikes, Haden, Harvey, Moss, Nelson, Wright, and a couple NFL caliber DBs still on the current roster (A Black and J Jenkins).

    In both NC victories under Meyer it was the defense that stood out – holding OSU and Heisman winner Troy Smith to 14 points, and holding one of the best offenses in history to 14 points when UF beat OU.


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