Florida, Muschamp moving on after Weis leaves

By Mark Long

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Dec. 8 2011 6:06 p.m. MST

Florida coach Will Muschamp, left, and Ohio State coach Luke Fickell wait to be called to the podium during a news conference for the Jan. 2 Gator Bowl NCAA college football game, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Florida Times-Union, Bruce Lipsky) TV OUT MAGS OUT, Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Will Muschamp already has started compiling a list of potential replacements for offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.

Weis left the Gators on Thursday after one season to take the head coaching job at Kansas.

He won't coach the Gator Bowl against Ohio State on Jan. 2. Running backs coach Brian White, a former offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, will handle play-calling duties against the Buckeyes.

Muschamp wants to keep a pro-style offense at Florida, saying White and Jacksonville University coach Kerwin Bell will be considered for the job. Muschamp added that he has received numerous calls from others interested in the position.

"I will hire the best offensive coordinator in the country," Muschamp said. "We need to improve offensively. Pretty obvious."

The Gators ranked 102nd in the nation in total offense, struggling to move the ball consistently against the best teams in the Southeastern Conference. Quarterback John Brantley was inconsistent, hampered by an undersized offensive line, dropped passes and no power running game. Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps looked great against overmatched opponents, but found little room to run against the SEC's best.

Weis was on the receiving end of some criticism, especially while Brantley missed a combined three games with an ankle injury. The offense was really stagnant with freshmen Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett under center.

Given all the offensive woes, Weis' departure was somewhat surprising.

"You never foresee some things like that happen," Muschamp said. "The last (year) didn't go as well as we thought. We didn't have exactly a great year offensively to promote that. But he's got a great track record, he's an outstanding coach, he's a good man and he got a great opportunity to go to Kansas, so I'm happy for him."

Nonetheless, Muschamp praised Weis' work.

"We lost some confidence offensively," Muschamp said. "We got out of kilter. We started searching for answers and things we could do against good people. When you lose that confidence, it's tough to regain that confidence. But again, considering the situations and the circumstances, I was very pleased with the job he did."

Muschamp said he hadn't told the team, but didn't expect much backlash.

"Kids are resilient," he said. "The fan base isn't as much. They're going to be fine. We're going to be fine. We're going to improve and we're going to get better from it, and that's the way you've got to look at it. We're going to go out and hire an outstanding coach.

"Hey, we're at the University of Florida. We're going to be able to go hire an outstanding football coach that's going to fit what I want done within our offense and within our system and that's what we're going to do and I'm going to take my time on it and make sure we hire the right guy and get the right fit, because that's really what it's about. It's kind of like recruiting. You're going out and finding the right fit for what you want as you move forward. Philosophically, doing the things that I want to do, we've just got to have more production."

Weis' departure comes four days after well-respected strength coach Mickey Marotti decided to take a job with Urban Meyer at Ohio State. Muschamp said Marotti's departure was expected since he and Meyer have been friends for more than two decades.

Muschamp also said the position is a "critical hire."

"They spend so much more time than we do," Muschamp said. "That's why I'm taking my time on the decision."

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