Muschamp's departure has deepened a schism in the Texas fan base already cut deep by this season's on-field and off-the-field disaster.
Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Austin, where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
Two camps - Trust Mack and Pine For Muschamp - are in a civil war. Neither represents the actual man himself, mind you, since neither Mack or Will are in real substantive opposition, but that has never stopped human beings from adopting their mantle and smiting each other with flails and morning stars.
The Trust Mack contingent believes that Mack built this and can again, defensive coordinators are easily replaced commodities, some hold that Muschamp wasn't that great anyway; some even believe that Muschamp and any coach who follows him are disloyal. They hold that Texas will be just fine, Chicken Littles. We're Texas. Trust Mack.
The Pine For Muschamp camp contends that Mack can only rejuvenate, not optimize. Some believe that Muschamp was driven away to Florida by Mack's inability to manage process and people with folksy wisdom informed by an Ol' Coach's Quotebook and management techniques gleaned from the Oxygen channel. The wrong man is leaving the 40 Acres, they suspect.
And there are lot of people in the middle ranges floating up and down the axis of opinion.
Then there are The Stupid. Who are always with us. Particularly as our network grows. They exist in all categories, some even hovering above the argument in some strange defiance of space-time. I don't know where they're from, but I will pay for their vasectomies.
One emphatic point:
The truth is not somewhere in the middle. I despise people who say that. That's espoused by people who like to suggest their own fair mindedness with the notion that truth is an arithmetic division of all opinion. No. Assertions can be weighed, kicked, poked, and evaluated to see if they approach something like truth. You don't take them and average them together to find a mean. The scientific method agrees. Every blowhard who has ever opined on a cable talking head show disagrees.
Let me throw out a few things approaching true, irrespective of what camp may draw your sympathies.
Will Muschamp Was Driven Away!
Will Muschamp went to Florida because he was offered a Top 3 job.
Everything else is garnish and "oh, isn't that interesting."
His frustrations with Mack Brown or his sense that things weren't being optimized at Texas are an irrelevance in that bigger picture. Had Muschamp taken the Vanderbilt job, then we can talk. But he went to Florida. After passing on Tennesssee a year ago. That tells you Will's math pretty plainly. Top 3 job - pack bags. Top 15 job - nah. Too bad he didn't get offered by Georgia, LSU, Penn State. Then we'd know his actual tipping point.
While one can certainly offer a preference that Will Muschamp lead the program instead of Brown that's an option only under the following scenarios:
1. Mack Brown immediately resigns and Muschamp takes over.
2. Mack Brown and the Texas administration firm up Mack's retirement date in 2011 or 2012 with a formal agreement to pay Muschamp a 5 million dollar penalty if he is not named head coach at Texas by date X, while Muschamp agrees to the imposition of a 7.5 million dollar buy-out penalty to stop poachers.
Those are the only two credible scenarios in which Will Muschamp remains at Texas. Neither happened. And #2 would have needed to happen four days ago. If option #2 was offered post-Florida offer, Muschamp would have to weigh how long he really is willing to put off his dream vs. taking orders from a guy he may be somewhat convinced he could be doing a better job than in several program areas.
Muschamp Is Disloyal!
Back to the big picture: for Muschamp, it's not that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. It's that a bird in hand is always worth more than one identical but theoretical bird in the bush.
Florida and Texas are more or less the same job in terms of coaching appeal. Any coordinator who would not jump at the opportunity to coach the Gators shouldn't be in the profession. Keys to great car now or possible keys to great car at an indeterminate future date?
Not a hard choice.
So why are some people so upset about losing Muschamp?
Let me have men about me that are fat, Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights. Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much, such men are dangerous. (I, iii, 192-5). - Julius Caesar
First, a sense that Muschamp was bringing much needed edge to a coaching staff that was fat and happy. I suspect most won't argue against that anymore, though the numbers were legion a year ago. Brown eventually saw that too, but he needed 5-7 for it to be clear. Unfortunately, Mack Brown has not self-diagnosed that he was largely responsible for that complacency and the entitlement that he decries, yet has so often created in his handling of personnel, staff, and evaluation. Mack likes to anoint people. I don't. Personally speaking - ENTP to his ESFJ - it drives me completely insane.
Second, Muschamp represented our HCIW. If you've soured on Mack, you've lost the subtle pressure of a groomed replacement in waiting and the hope offered by a guy on staff that you think might be able to meet the challenges of a new landscape. Now Brown is cemented and Pine For Muschampers are lashing out, their hopes for near term change dashed.
Third, Will was a damn good defensive coordinator. His three year record is a very good one: massive improvement in 2008 from the Akina/MacDuff debacle of 2007, a defense that carried us to the national title game in 2009, and in 2010 a defense that we resent for being statistically Top 10 but ultimately unable to escape the pull of offense and special teams that were like quicksand.
Fourth, an open defensive coordinator job picks at a lot of scabs on a Texas fan and Mack has hired a range of DCs from failure: Reese/Akina/MacDuff; to solid but overrated: Chizik; solid and underrated: Robinson; good all around: Muschamp. There's little evidence to suggest that hires here have been nothing but a crap shoot.
Fifth, the timing is awful on the heels of the offensive house cleaning. The prospect of a completely brand new staff means Mack is more likely to hire in his comfort zone rather than take risks that he can better absorb psychologically with a stable base around. Mack is going to be looking at a bunch of new faces soon. After a tumultuous 2010, he may want to see some comfortable ones. And any young men he brings in may be overly deferential without a senior management champion in their corner. It also increases the probability that S&C may not be addressed.
Finally, people that really understand and follow recruiting know the impact Muschamp (and Applewhite) had on ours over the last two years. A staff needs rainmakers, guys willing to shake the bushes, evaluators, individuals who will fight for the elite talent rather than be concerned about their offer acceptance hit rate percentages. The guy who will speak up in a staff meeting and call out a colleague on a lazy take. It's not just about the current recruiting class - it's also about how recruiting will be conducted down the road.
The Trust Mack brand has taken a big hit over the last year. Will Muschamp was a repository of hope for a lot of fans who believe that we operate in a Darwinian world of strife and competition where even the programs with great natural advantages must constantly be adapting to their environment. Or perish. Most hoped the changes he could effect could happen under the Mack Brown regime, leading to an eventually bloodless transition of leadership.
With that possibility now gone, the Muschamp partisans find themselves as lost as the Trust Mack crowd found themselves at the end of 5-7.