Auburn Football Coaching Rumors: Would Fired Florida Head Coach Will Muschamp Return?


After roughly a full year of speculation about his future, the axe finally fell Sunday. Will Muschamp has been fired as the head coach of the Florida Gators.

However, if he wants another job, he won’t have to wait long. Muschamp is one of the best defensive minds and motivators in the nation. He just wasn’t able to put together an offense that scored enough points in Gainesville to win enough games.

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The 43-year old began his coaching career at Auburn as a defensive graduate assistant. Muschamp coached for Terry Bowden in 1995 and 1996. After a few stops at smaller schools, he joined forces with Nick Saban at LSU from 2001-04 and followed him to the NFL. After one season, Muschamp returned to Auburn as defensive coordinator and led the Tigers defense in 2006 and 2007 before leaving for Texas, and ultimately, Florida.

Along the way, he’s impressed just about everyone as a defensive coach, both on and off the field.

“He’s not a good football coach. He’s a great football coach,” an unnamed ‘veteran SEC coach’ told’s Chris Low. “He’s a coach’s coach and does it the right way. You’re not going to find many people in this profession who will tell you any differently about Will.”

So, with two stints at Auburn already, would Muschamp consider a third? Possibly, but it’s not that simple.

Nov 1, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp reatcs on the sidelines against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half at EverBank Field. Florida Gators defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 38-20. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Keep in mind, the Auburn football team already has a defensive coordinator. Ellis Johnson is also a great defensive mind and he has a long track record of success. However, he and the Tigers have struggled to contain opponents in recent weeks, and Johnson has often taken the blunt of the blame from Auburn fans. A change is possible – not just because of a lack of success, but also because Johnson could be eyeing retirement.

“I’ve been coaching for 40 years,” Johnson said Sunday when discussing his unit’s struggles. “I’ve coached at a lot of different places, and everybody doesn’t (have to) like me. It’s just part of the business. If it bothered me, I wouldn’t still be coaching after 40 years. I can understand some of it. We’re frustrated. Players are frustrated. Obviously fans are frustrated.”

Plus, when a defensive coach of Muschamp’s caliber is on the market, sometimes teams will take extraordinary measures to grab him. Some have already suggested offering Will Muschamp a blank check to come back to Auburn.

However, hiring Muschamp might not be the best long-term solution to Auburn’s defensive problems. He’s a great coordinator, but Muschamp probably wants to become the head coach of another program sooner rather than later. If Johnson were let go or retired, and Gus Malzahn and Jay Jacobs wrote Muschamp a blank check, he’d only be in town a year or two most likely.

A return to the Plains also probably isn’t the most likely situation for the new free agent coach. It’s pure speculation, but here’s how I would rank Muschamp’s likely future destinations:

  • First, Muschamp could decide to take a year off and weigh his options. After taking a hefty salary to coach the Gators, and taking a buyout not to coach them, it’s not like he needs the money. Like many coaches do, Muschamp may take his time and make sure his next job is the best possible fit before jumping into something else.
  • Defensive coordinator and head coach in waiting at South Carolina. Muschamp and Steve Spurrier have become very chummy recently, and the Head Ball Coach isn’t far from retirement. This, of course, assumes Spurrier won’t return to Florida. Expect to hear many coaching rumors suggesting the HBC could return to The Swamp, but that is also unlikely.
  • Defensive coordinator in the NFL. Muschamp was part of Nick Saban’s staff with the Miami Dolphins, and he could take a year or two (or more) away from the college game.
  • Head coach at a less-than-premiere FBS school. Muschamp will be a good head coach one day. The timing and the fit just weren’t right at Florida. Kansas and SMU have openings. Other jobs will surface over the next few weeks.
  • Defensive coordinator in the SEC. Auburn could be an option here, of course, and Texas A&M might as well. Also, and this might make you gasp, should Alabama DC Kirby Smart finally take the jump to become a head coach, don’t rule out Muschamp reuniting with Saban.

Simply put, Muschamp will have plenty of options soon. Auburn could be one of them, but it’s most likely not the one he will take.

Next: Auburn Defense Isn't Physical Enough

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