Six candidates for UF's OC job
Published: Friday, December 9, 2011 at 1:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 9, 2011 at 1:28 p.m.
At his introductory news conference last December, new Florida coach Will Muschamp said naming an offensive coordinator would be his most important hire.
A year later, he's in the same position all over again.
Muschamp's first “most important” hire was a big one — the legendary Charlie Weis, the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator who had five Super Bowl appearances on his resume and four Super Bowl rings on his fingers.
When Muschamp hired Weis away from the Kansas City Chiefs in January, Weis, 55, indicated he planned to be in Gainesville for the long haul. He reiterated those feelings the Tuesday before the FSU game.
But Weis obviously wanted to be a head coach again. When Kansas came calling and offered him its head coaching job, Weis accepted it and was on a plane for Lawrence, Kan., on Thursday night.
Left behind in Gainesville is Muschamp, now facing another “most important” hire. He said Thursday night that there is no timetable to replace Weis; that he's going to do his research and find the right offensive coordinator for the job.
If Muschamp chooses to go to the NFL for his man (like he did with his offensive and defensive coordinators a year ago), this is going to take some time because NFL coaches cannot accept other jobs during the season, including the playoffs.
Everyone knows what Muschamp is looking for — a coordinator with a pro-style offense that features almost 50-50 balance between the pass and the run.
At a Gator Bowl news conference in Jacksonville on Thursday night, Muschamp mentioned two possible candidates — Jacksonville University head coach Kerwin Bell and UF running backs coach Brian White, who will be the offensive coordinator through the bowl game.
Here's a look at some of the possible candidates to replace Weis:
When the early lists for possible replacements for Weis were being put together, Mike Shula was widely overlooked Thursday night. But he may be the leading candidate for the job. The Sun learned Friday from a well-connected source that Muschamp has already talked to Shula about the job and Shula may be the No. 1 target at this early stage. He's a former college head coach (Alabama) who is in his 20th season coaching in the NFL, where he's been an offensive coordinator before with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He spent four years as the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterbacks coach before taking the same position with the Panthers this past year.
Kerwin Bell is one of the most productive and popular quarterbacks in UF football history, and he will be the sentimental favorite among Florida fans. He indicated Thursday night that he would accept the job if Muschamp offers it. Bell has been calling plays for the last 15 years (in the CFL, at Ocala Trinity Catholic High School and JU), but does not have experience at the Division I level. He runs a pro-style offense at JU. Two years ago, the Dolphins led the nation in total offense with more than 500 yards a game — about 300 through the air and 200 on the ground. He is an innovative offensive coach with tremendous Florida ties.
In his first season with the Cowboys this year, Todd Monken established himself as one of the best offensive coordinators in college football. OSU is third in the nation in total offense, averaging 577 yards a game, 386.25 through the air. Before replacing Dana Holgorsen this season, Monken spent the previous four seasons as the wide receivers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was going to be the Jags' quarterback coach in 2011 before he took the OSU job. He almost certainly will be one of Muschamp's targets.
Although his pro-style Miami offense struggled somewhat this season (71st in the nation in yards per game), Jedd Fisch is a highly respected offensive coach who came to the Hurricanes from the Seattle Seahawks, where he coached with UF defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. He was highly recommended for the UM job by Seattle coach Pete Carroll. Fisch is a UF graduate. He was a graduate assistant coach at UF under Steve Spurrier after coaching at P.K. Yonge.
Brian White has nine years of experience as a college offensive coordinator. He was the OC at Wisconsin for seven years and held the same position at Syracuse for two years. He's an experienced play-caller who will have a chance to show his skills in the Gator Bowl. If Muschamp is looking for a smooth and easy transition, White could be his guy. He's considered one of the best recruiters on the UF staff.
Muschamp and Al Borges were assistant coaches on the same Auburn staff, so Muschamp knows exactly what kind of coordinator he would be getting. Borges runs a pro-style offense with excellent balance between the pass and the run. His Michigan offense this season is averaging 235.7 yards a game on the ground and 198.8 through the air. Borges was considered a possible candidate for the job a year ago before Muschamp hired Weis.