It’s obviously way too early to evaluate Florida’s Will Muschamp as a head football coach.
Even this time next year, it will be too early. We’ll have a better idea. There will at least be a body of work to examine on and off the field, but you don’t anoint a coach or write him off after just one season.
Nonetheless, I’ll say this for Muschamp after hearing the news Tuesday that he’d sent star cornerback Janoris Jenkins packing following Jenkins’ second drug-related arrest in three months: There’s a new sheriff in Gator Land, and this one is serious about holding players accountable when they show up on the police blotter.
If Muschamp didn’t already have his players’ attention, you can bet he does now.
Jenkins was the kind of player you build defenses around and might have been a first-round pick had he come out following his junior season.
But he’s not bigger than the Florida program, and if you embarrass the program one too many times, you’re history.
Sounds pretty simple, but we all know it doesn’t work that way at a lot of places.
Make up your own mind about whether it worked that way under Muschamp’s predecessor.
Urban Meyer had unbelievable success at Florida, winning two national championships and three BCS bowl games. But there also were more than 30 arrests on his watch, and just last season, he allowed a player (Chris Rainey) to rejoin the team after he was arrested and charged with stalking for allegedly sending a threatening text message to a woman he’d been dating that read, "Time to die, b----."
It got away from Meyer and the Gators in more ways than one last season, and I don’t blame him for taking his two rings and going to the broadcast booth.
The challenge for Muschamp is to try to sustain the success Meyer had on the field his first five seasons but to snuff out some of the nonsense off the field.
I’d say he’s off to a rousing start.
Muschamp made it very clear in taking the job that the players he recruited and coached would represent Florida in a first-class manner. He went on to say that it was something he took very seriously.
We know now how serious.
More importantly, so do his players.
It’s never easy to kick off your best player, especially when you’re just taking over a program.
But Muschamp stayed true to his word, and it’s obvious he’s not interested in taking shortcuts or sacrificing his core values in getting the Gators back to college football’s upper hierarchy.
Granted, he’s yet to coach in his first game at Florida. But in my book, he’s 1-0.