Florida is the nation’s most fertile recruiting ground. The three prominent programs that feed from it – Florida State, Florida and Miami – have changed coaches within the last calendar year. The latter two did so within the last four days. The situation may change moving forward, but, as of today, here is how the new coaches have affected the relative balance of power in the state.
Florida State: Jimbo Fisher has had a year’s head start and, unsurprisingly, the Seminoles have the advantage. They had the better season, winning nine games and playing for the ACC Title. More importantly, they crushed Miami and Florida in both in-state clashes. The success is reaping dividends, with FSU pulling in ESPN’s third-ranked recruiting class with 10 of ESPN’s Top 150 recruits. Had a couple close games gone in Florida State’s favor they could be 11-2. They are the closest to performing at elite level and have the easiest route.
Miami: Al Golden may not have been Miami’s first choice, but he was the best realistic candidate for the position. He won at Temple. The Owls were 0-11 when he took over, run out of the Big East for incompetence. He built them into a team that won 17 of their last 23 games. He’s also recognized as one of the country’s best recruiters. Golden runs a system predicated on speed, athleticism and line strength on both sides of the ball. Miami can improve next season, but still play FSU and VaTech on the road and host Ohio State. They are close, but probably need another season before they are 10-win ready.
Florida: Jeremy Foley hired Urban Meyer, but hardly deserves credit for prescience hiring the hottest coach in the country. He’s still the man who hired Ron Zook, but Muschamp is no Zook. Muschamp is coming from a college program, and a college program where he held major responsibility. He’s a great defensive coordinator and an energetic recruiter, but, at Florida, he will be judged an offense. The Gators must reformat and rebuild on that side of the ball. Keeping #1 quarterback recruit Jeff Driskel is top priority. If Brantley can’t recover his confidence, Driskel could be the starter from Day One. Florida has the highest ceiling of the three schools, but the SEC is far less forgiving.
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