OK boys… time for a little Bourbon on Bourbon crime here.
If any of you watched a Gator game with me in 2006 when the Leak/Tebow thing brought us joy… then division… then joy again, you know I’ve always got my eye on where race matters in many issues. And I think Charlie Strong staying at Louisville had race play an issue, for different reasons that Sammy McCorkle noted in his post.
I had traded in my John Brantley stock and bought up all the available Chris Petersen shares out there, so I’m surprised by the Good Will Muschamp hiring as well, but in minutes it all made sense. For all the reasons listed by Sam, however I think we’ve all got a case of the “David Robinson/Gary Payton/Michael Jordan syndrome” here. The Admiral, the Glove and (pre-Wizards) MJ coasted into their later years without anyone really noticing because they all looked the same still. Nobody gained a bunch of weight or got grey hair, so we just always assumed the they were still 26-28 years old until they fell off a cliff skills wise. Do we look at coaches the same way?
Did you know Bob Stoops and Charlie Strong are both 50 years old?!?!?
That’s 10 full years older than Mike “I’m a man! I’m 40!” Gundy was when he snapped a couple of years ago. Hell, Urban was a “young coach” when we hired him at 40. Now he’s looking like Joe Pa.
Chris Petersen (my guy!) is 46 (Urban’s age). Gruden is 47 (remember when he was a “young” coach). Petrino has worked at 24 places in 20 years or something obsurd like that… no thanks. And Harbaugh is going to coach the 49’ers next season. Dan Mullen might want to keep his boy Addazio around as his OC… thanks, but no thanks.
That leaves ole Charlie.
Here’s where race plays a factor with Chuck: At 49 years old, Charlie FINALLY got his first head coaching job that mattered (not counting the 2005 Chik-Fil-A debacle vs. Miami… you’re welcome Devin Hester). After 20 years + as an assistant, and wanting to remain in the south, and having chosen the partner and wife that he has, has come up as an issue before, he finally gets a chance and gets Louisville back to a bowl game. He’s got the opportunity to build something there, pretty much pressure free (for now). Charlie couldn’t leave now. He’s too good for that and both him and Louisville owe it to each other to give this a chance. To turn his back on the school and AD who gave him that chance after one season because Florida came calling again would be a travesty. So yes, race is a factor… but only in that it too Charlie so long to get this gig in the first place, that he needs to stay there for a little while.
Besides, what’s the difference between Lane Kiffin and Charlie Strong if he were to leave Louisville after one year to come back to where he was most successful and happy. Lane leaving in the dark of night to USC would be no different than Charlie running back to Florida before a bowl game (other than the fact that just about everyone hates Lane Kiffin and all that…).
Now… my associates here at BourbonMeyer.com are not convinced about Muschamp’s credentials and abilities and wanted to bring in all those retreads. But consider this:
What if Oklahoma didn’t give Bobby Stoops his first shot as a head coach in 1998 (yes… 12 years ago!!!) after being a Defensive Coordinator? Who would lose all those Fiesta Bowls and BCS title games??
What if when Mike Belotti retired at Oregon, they went out and hired Jeff Tedford or Rick Neuheisel or Brian Kelly or one of those guys instead of giving Chip Kelly his first shot after being the OC at New Hampshire, then Oregon?
My colleagues seem to think this was a knee jerk or “drunken folly” by Mr. Foley, however, I think Jeremy has had Muschamp on speed dial for about 8 months now. He has stated that he always has a short list of coaches to contact if something should happen. After last December, do we really think Mr. Foley wasn’t prepared for this? Let me tell you what the phone conversation sounded like on Dec. 26, 2009:
Jeremy: “Hey Will. Soooo… Urban may or may not have had a heart attack, but he’s retiring. You’re the first guy on my list to call about the vacancy. Whaddya think?”
Good Will Muschamp: “Wow! I’m flattered. I’m gonna have to call you back though.”
Jeremy: “Call me back?? I want to see if you want to be the Head Ball coach at Florida!”
Good Will: “Yeah, I understand, but I’m in the midst of watching film for this little thing called the BCS National Championship game in a week!!!! You know… we’re playing the team that bent you over a metal chair 3 weeks ago?! They have 756 NFL players on their roster and you can’t name a defensive player from Texas, so if you don’t mind… I appreciate the gesture, but I’m gonna wait til after this game to even consider it.”
Jeremy: “Ahhh… I see your point. We’ve gotta move on this though. When Ole Steve left us AFTER the Orange Bowl, we were stuck with what was left in the coaching pool and ended up with the Zooker. I’ll see if we can talk UM into sticking around another year or we’ll name Addazio head coach til you’re done. But hey… keep your phone on in case we both suck out loud next year and Urbs has had enough.”
The point is… lots of coaches get their first gig at a 100mph job and do fine (Stoops, Kelly). Many don’t (Zooker, Charlie Weis). Muschamp needs a chance and ALL the benefit of the doubt and support right now. Race may be in issue in not bringing in Charlie Strong, but not in the way we think.
Go Gators! Go Good Will!