Seminole Slant: Florida Gator Coaching Hires

Let's take a moment to discuss the coaching hires made by new Florida Gator coach Will Muschamp.  Muschamp elected to keep Stan Drayton (running backs), D.J. Durkin (linebackers), and Brian White (tight ends).  Those guys are being kept primarily for recruiting purposes and staff continuity.

Charlie Weis (Offensive Coordinator)

As you might know, Florida hired Charlie Weis to be its offensive coordinator.  We do know that Weis is an excellent offensive mind, but a bad head coach.  Much like Norv Turner or Wade Phillips, he is a guy who hasn't been able to successfully transition from excellent coordinator to head coach.  But he won't be asked to do so at UF.

Given a competent veteran quarterback, Weis' offenses regularly lit up the box scores. With Brady Quinn in 2005-06 and the more seasoned version of Jimmy Clausen in 2009 – as opposed to the overwhelmed freshman-in-the-headlights version of 2007 – the Irish unleashed top-10 passing attacks that averaged upwards of 30 points per game. In fact, Weis' attack finished ahead of or in a dead heat with Urban Meyer's spread option machine at Florida in terms of total offense in all three of those seasons, including the Gators' BCS Championship run in 2006 and Tebow-led march to a 13-1 finish in 2009.  - Matt Hinton

Still, there are questions of fit here.  Will Muschamp is a rookie head coach.  Is he bringing a personality in that he cannot handle?  People say Weis is abrasive and egotistical.  Can a rookie head coach control him?   NFL people say Weis was likely not going to be welcomed back in Kansas City after the season.  

Another concern is his recruiting.  Weis' staff routinely brought in very good classes to Notre Dame, but those close to the program say he was not a good recruiter himself.  As a head coach, he couldn't make many recruiting visits due to NCAA rules.  But as an offensive coordinator, he will have to make many more visits.  It will be interesting to see how he recruits.  As you will see below, UF might already be compensating for his lack of recruiting ability by hiring some good recruiters at other positions-- even at the expense of coaching ability.

I also wonder how he will be received if his first season doesn't go well.  He should receive a free year to install his offense and go away from the spread attack UF ran under Meyer.  But will he?  The system isn't something that these spread kids will be able to easily transition to and expecting this UF offense to be dominant in his first season is unrealistic.  One key will be whether he goes with the star freshman QB Jeff Driskel, or with the pocket passer in John Brantley.  Brantley clearly has arm talent and was betrayed by Meyer.  While Brantley is likely the better option for immediate success, Driskel will provide the fanbase with a reason for greater leniency.  If everything goes right, I do think UF has the pieces to perhaps have an offense equal to Florida State, which has produced one of the best ten offenses in the country in back-to-back years, by 2012.

Aubrey Hill (Wide Receivers)

Hill is a former Gator star who coached the last few years at Miami.  I was not particularly impressed with his work at Miami.  His receivers were not very good and Leonard Hankerson only emerged after becoming best friends with Mark Duper over the summer.  Hill is being brought in primarily as a recruiter.  I was not impressed with his recruiting at Miami, but there is another example here that is on point:  Clint Hurt.  Hurt was Miami's recruiting coordinator and Canes cheered when he left for Louisville, as they said he was a poor recruiter.  For the Canes, he was.  But for Louisville, Hurt is killing it.  That leads me to believe that Hill may actually be a pretty good recruiter.  Why?  Because of the difficulties the staff at Miami had that had nothing to do with recruiting ability and everything to do with restrictions placed upon them.  This hire of Hill is clearly to target South Florida, an area Florida State dominated this year.  Hill is 33 years old.

Frank Verducci (Offensive Line)

Really don't have information on Verducci.   He was with Hayden Frye for 10 years before a long stint in the NFL, which is a plus in my eyes.  Eleven of the last 12 years in the NFL, however, doesn't do much for me.  NFL guys know how to block and need fine-tuning.  College linemen often have no idea how to block when they come in and are simply big bodies.  Insert standard notes about teaching and the 20-hour rule here.  I'm sure Verducci is a fine coach.  At this point, I lack enough information about this hire to say anything more.  Verducci is 50 years old.  

Dan Quinn (Defensive Coordinator/ Defensive Line)

I suspect that Quinn is being brought in as "defensive coordinator" in title only.  Many good college coaches, including FSU's Jimbo Fisher, call the plays and run one side of the ball while allowing an assistant to hold the title of "coordinator" to get a raise in pay for that assistant.  I suspect that is what will happen here as Muschamp will likely call his own defense. Quinn is considered a good defensive line coach, and he's worked with Muschamp before when Muschamp was with the Dolphins.  He has been out of the college game, however, for ten years and has never recruited in D1 football.  He will join UF after the Seattle Seahawks get bounced from the playoffs.  I think this is probably a pretty good hire.  Quinn is about 39 years old.

Travaris Robinson (Defensive Backs)

Robinson is 29 years old and this hire screams "South Florida recruiting."  Robinson has three years of college coaching experience, plus two as a graduate assistant at Auburn, where he played defensive back.  His most recent stop is Texas Tech with Tubberville.  He has coached under Muschamp before, at Auburn, and has also worked with Tubberville.  He will undoubtedly be a good recruiter with his youth, swagger, and knowledge of the Miami area.  I have no idea about his coaching ability.  

Final Thoughts

This staff will clearly push the "NFL" angle to kids.  I expect them to recruit very well, but I really would have expected any Florida staff to do so as UF pretty much recruits itself.  The greater question in my mind is how well some of these NFL guys will adjust to the college game.  The college game is different, both in rule and scope.  Coaches only get twenty hours per week with these kids.  College coaching is more about being efficient than it is thorough, though both are obviously required for greatness. You also have to have concerns about the mesh with these guys, as with any staff.  My early impression here is that Muschamp did a good but not great job with this staff.  It doesn't really make me say "wow", but I also don't look at it and say "oh man, he messed up."

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