As is the case with all Muschamp assistants, Roper has not been made available to the media during this season. As a result, we can only judge what happened on the field without getting any explanation for why things might have been done the way they were. If Muschamp brings in a coach with proven production and the offense produces similar results next season, it’s going to be impossible for the blame not to fall on Muschamp.
Muschamp has had three offensive coordinators in his six seasons as a head coach. Charlie Weis was a “big name” hire who proved disastrous, attempting to run a pro-style offense with players recruited for Urban Meyer’s spread scheme. After Kansas took Weis off Muschamp’s hands, he hired Brent Pease from Boise State. Pease was perceived as an up-and-comer, but was dumped after two seasons with Florida. Pease has since been let go by Washington as a position coach and then UTEP as offensive coordinator. Roper came from Duke after Muschamp reportedly looked at other candidates, including then-Arizona State OC Mike Norvell; he’s now coach at offense-minded Memphis.
For Roper, success away from the shadow of an acclaimed offensive coach in David Cutcliffe could have been the path to a head-coaching opportunity. Instead, much like Pease, it seems Roper’s previous accomplishments may have been a matter of where he was rather than his skill level.
Muschamp has a vastly better hand of cards to play with this OC hire than he had either of the times he hired Roper. At Florida, it was clear he was on the hot seat, meaning any candidate was taking the risk he’d be out of a job after one season. At South Carolina, it was obvious a major rebuild was necessary.
Now Muschamp has job security, a talented rising junior quarterback with 19 starts and good skill-position talent. Combine those things with the money an SEC school is willing to pay for a top candidate, and this should be a coveted job. It’s up to Muschamp to find the assistant who possesses the right combination of scheme and proven play-calling ability to finally show he can deliver a team with even an average offense.
(You can follow Heath Cline on Twitter @heathradio)
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