When considering the University of Florida’s football rivals, it will take you a while to get to the South Carolina Gamecocks – if you ever do. Florida and South Carolina have met 38 times on the gridiron dating all the way back to their first meeting in 1911. Florida holds a commanding 26-9-3 advantage in the series.
Florida and South Carolina have played every year since the Gamecocks joined the SEC prior to the 1992 season. In those 26 meetings, South Carolina has won just six times.
When Steve Spurrier took over the South Carolina job from 2005-2015, the series added intrigue, but that quickly faded after Florida won four of the first five meetings.
So, why should Florida consider South Carolina a rival now? Why should Gator fans look at South Carolina as anything more than just another conference game in November? Why, now, is the South Carolina game an important one for Florida to take seriously?
The answer: Will Muschamp.
Will Muschamp coached the University of Florida from 2011-2014, where he compiled a disappointing 28-21 record.
Muschamp was fired by Florida in November of 2014 for many reasons, among them, the tremendous lack of support for Muschamp among the Gator fan base, many of whom had been clamoring for his removal the year prior.
You know those sayings “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side,” or “be careful what you wish for?” Perhaps that is what Gator fans think of now in regards to Muschamp.
No one in Gainesville would deny how accomplished Muschamp was on the recruiting trail as the Florida head coach. In four recruiting cycles from 2011-2014, the Gators never finished outside the top-11 in the country and in two of those classes, 2012 and 2013, the Gators recorded top-five classes nationally.
Muschamp was able to sign seven prospects at Florida who were considered to be five-star talents coming out of high school.
Florida hasn’t finished with a top-10 recruiting class nationally since Muschamp was fired and has signed just two five-star prospects from 2015-2018 according to 247sports.com, CeCe Jefferson and Martez Ivey.
In Muschamp’s four seasons as the Florida head coach, the Gators never finished outside the top-15 in total defense nationally. Florida was 31st in total defense nationally in 2017.
Now, there is no denying the struggles that Florida had on offense in Muschamp’s four seasons. Muschamp’s offense had Gator fans longing for the day of the Spurrier “Fun ‘N’ Gun,” or Urban Meyer’s spread offense.
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