The reprieval that Florida coach Will Muschamp earned with a win over rival Georgia two weeks ago was apparently short-lived.
Muschamp will coach the Gators' final two games, according to multiple reports, but will not return as Florida's head coach next season. Sports Illustrated was the first to report the news Sunday.
"Upon evaluation of our football program, we are not where the program needs to be and should be," athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement Sunday. "I've always said that our goal at the University of Florida is to compete for championships on a regular basis. ... I will be forever grateful to Will and his staff for their unwavering commitment to the University of Florida and the mission of our athletic program."
Florida is 5-4 on the season after losing to South Carolina, 23-20, on Saturday, when a blocked punt late in the fourth quarter allowed the Gamecocks to win in overtime. The loss ended UF's already slim hopes of winning the SEC East.
It was Florida's sixth defeat in its last eight games in Gainesville.
The previous loss was equally troubling for Foley. The Gators turned the ball over six times in a 42-13 drubbing against Missouri on homecoming last month. Chants of "Fire Muschamp" could be heard throughout an emptying Florida Field.
Foley stuck with Muschamp after that one, saying the coach and the season would be evaluated "as it plays out." The Gators regrouped, benched turnover-prone quarterback Jeff Driskel and won consecutive games in dominating fashion, including a stunner against rival Georgia. They even had an outside shot at winning the SEC's muddled Eastern Division.
But that ended against the Gamecocks, which entered the game with one of the country's worst defenses. The Gators attempted just one pass in the final 17 minutes of regulation against South Carolina.
After finishing 4-8 last season amid myriad injuries, much higher expectations were in place for the Gators coach this year, to results that were lukewarm at best. In particular, Muschamp was expected to reenergize a weak offense and hired new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper last offseason. Instead, veteran quarterback Jeff Driskel showed no sign of improvement under Roper and was replaced by true freshman Treon Harris, who has led a ground-based attack since taking the starting job.
UF's passing offense ranks 114th out of 125 FBS programs at just 165.9 yards per game.
Muschamp issued a statement through the school on Sunday: "I was given every opportunity to get it done here and I simply didn't win enough games -- that is the bottom line. I'm disappointed that I didn't get it done and it is my responsibility to get it done."
Muschamp's firing makes for an early, high-profile start to the season of college football coaching turnover, which will begin in earnest in early December and begins to settle in late January prior to national signing day. Although Muschamp will leave behind a program lacking in talent to immediately compete for an SEC title, he vacates a position that is a destination job in several other respects, including salary and a fertile recruiting base.
Muschamp's coaching background is as a defensive assistant, most notably under Alabama coach Nick Saban at LSU. Muschamp coached under Saban with the Miami Dolphins in 2005 before returning to the college game as Auburn's defensive coordinator. He then took on the same role at Texas before being hired by UF.