ESPN's GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. Over the next 30 weekdays, we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- What kind of season will Florida have in its second year under coach Will Muschamp?
Fans are hoping Muschamp can duplicate Bob Stoops, Jim Tressel, Urban Meyer and Gene Chizik, and win a national championship in year two. That’s a best-case scenario, for sure, but maybe a more realistic expectation is for Muschamp to duplicate G.E. Pyle, D.K. Stanley or Ray Wolf.
Not sure who they are? They’re three of the six former UF coaches who posted a better record in their second season than they did in their first. It’s a tougher task than it probably seems, because 14 of UF’s previous 20 head coaches (Gary Darnell was an interim coach for less than a season) had identical or worse records in year two compared to their rookie season.
Part of that is because of the rigors of the Southeastern Conference, but it also is a symptom of the normal transition that occurs during any coaching change. Some players don’t fit the new system. Some players are unhappy with the new staff and leave. Some players don’t handle transition well.
For a long time, taking a dip in year two wasn’t a problem. Coaches had at least five years to build a program, so a couple of years of decline were seen as part of the process. No longer. Coaches, especially those at BCS schools, generally have three years to get things rolling or they get booted. That doesn’t seem to be the case at Florida because of the state of the program Muschamp inherited from Meyer. It’ll take at least two seasons for Muschamp to re-establish discipline and recruit the players that fit his pro-style system.
Nevertheless, it would certainly be to his benefit to post a better record than 7-6 in 2012. Here’s a look at the six former UF coaches who did show improvement in their second seasons.