The Auburn Tigers are giving Will Muschamp the exit from unemployment, taking him on as their defensive coordinator, his speciality before four mostly disappointing seasons as the head coach of the Florida Gators, hoping to make his way up the ladder once again through this job.
Or maybe Muschamp is now one of those who have been burned once and realize that head coaching might not be for them. Auburn follow the line of their big sister, Alabama, hiring Lane Kiffin last season after his USC experience didn’t go so well. As an offensive coordinator, Kiffin seems to be fitting in a lot more nicely with those around him, and in generally comes as much bigger and better use to the program that hires him.
The same should be for Muschamp, who had a defensive juggernaut in Florida, despite the failures in recruiting offensive players. Over the four seasons in Gainesville, Muschamp’s defenses were ranked 8th in opposition points per game (19.1), 4th in opponents yards (302 per game), 5th in allowed third down percentage (32.6%) and 5th in opponents yards per lay (4.7). Not just in the SEC, but in the entire nation. Defense wasn’t where his stint fell apart.
Auburn need defensive help. The Tigers were only 59th in the nation last season in total defense (388.7 yards per game), 82nd in pass defense (239.2 yards per game) and 59th in scoring defense, allowing 26.1 points per game. Ellis Johnson got fired after the season was over, with Auburn finishing just 8-4 in the regular season and 4-4 in the SEC, giving up 55 points in the final game of the season, the Iron Bowl against Alabama.
Muschamp has been very successful as a defensive coordinator for LSU (where he was part of a national championship under Nick Saban in 2003), Auburn (2006-2007, consistently ranked among the best in the nation in almost every defensive category) and he did very well from 2008 to 2010 at Texas, where he was hoping to one day inherit Mack Brown. His Longhorns defenses led the nation in sacks with 119 through his three seasons there.
Muschamp finished with a 28-21 record as the Florida head coach, with just one season of more than 7 wins (2012, going 11-2 and losing in the Sugar Bowl). That includes the awful 2013 season, in which Florida finished 4-8. That impression was impossible to shake off during 2014, despite some happier moments, including the win against bitter rivals Georgia. The offense, ranked only 90th in the nation, simply wouldn’t improve despite the changes he was making.