No one knows how well Will Muschamp is going to do at Florida. Sometimes, very good coordinators end up being very bad head coaches, and vice versa. But often good coordinators become good head coaches -- that's why the coordinator post is a popular place for programs to go when looking for a head coach.
So the only thing we have to try to gauge Muschamp's effectiveness right now is how well he's handled his defensive charges. And while you've no doubt heard enough to know that Muschamp has been very good, you might be surprised to see just how good he's been.
In the college ranks, Muschamp has never ranked outside the top third of his conference in total defense. His stint in Miami didn't work out so well, but we all know that the NFL is not the best proving ground for the college ranks. Muschamp has had success literally everywhere else he's been.
There have been some comments here and there suggesting that Muschamp's defense wasn't quite as good this year as it was in past years. The only sign of any let-up I can find are the slightly elevated yardage -- not that much to worry about, really -- and the much higher scoring defense. There's a reason I don't have scoring defense on that chart: It is a flawed measure of how good a defense is, particularly when it's paired with an incredibly bad offense.
Texas had a -12 turnover margin on the year, helped out mightily by Garrett Gilbert's 17 interceptions and the team's 13 lost fumbles. When the offense is handing the ball to the other team more than two times a game, it's going to be hard to keep the point total down no matter how good the defense is. At one point in the second quarter of the game against UCLA, the Bruins scored 13 points on three drives that totaled 43 yards. Two of those drives started on fumbles, and the other started when Texas turned the ball over on downs. What's Muschamp supposed to do about that?
Aside from that season, Muschamp's college defenses have been in the Top 10 all but two years: In 2006, when Auburn still ranked 19th in the nation; and in 2008, during the pointsapalooza era of the Big XII. It's worth noting that while Texas' defense came in 51st overall, it was still the best among teams that were facing the same potent offenses every week.
If you're really looking for a cause for concern, it would be the inconsistency against the rush when in the SEC. With Marcus Lattimore likely to spend two more years in Columbia, Mark Ingram and the Tide on next year's interdivision schedule, as well as an Auburn team that will still have a powerful running game even without Cam Newton, now is not the idea time for Florida to settle for an average rush defense. But that's a short-term concern for now.
The most encouraging thing for Florida fans might be that Muschamp hasn't been on a losing team until this year. What he knows about being a head coach, he's learned from head coaches in the middle of winning seasons. When you're taking a shot with someone who's never actually been a head coach himself, that's about as good a qualification as you can ask for.