GAINESVILLE - Brent Pease spoke last week like someone who understood the unlikelihood of his return to the Florida Gators football program. Now, the decision is official.
Florida fired the offensive coordinator Sunday following two largely unproductive seasons. The Gators, who completed a 4-8 season Saturday for their first losing campaign since 1979, also parted ways with offensive line coach Tim Davis after two seasons.
“There have been a lot of unfortunate circumstances this year, but that is part of the game sometimes,” Gators coach Will Muschamp said in a press release. “I want to thank each of them for their contributions to the program both on and off the field.”
Pease, 49, joined Muschamp’s coaching staff in 2012 after spending six seasons at Boise State. He was considered one of the most desirable assistant coaches in the nation at the time, drawing interest from Alabama, among others, before choosing Florida. Davis spent one season with Muschamp working for the Miami Dolphins in 2005.
Neither was able to create much success with the Gators.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to come to the University of Florida and work with a bunch of great coaches, administrative staff and players,” Pease said in a release. “I know we came up short of our ultimate goal, but I will carry on knowing I gained valuable friendships and relationships during my time here.”
The decision to let Pease and Davis go isn’t at all a surprise. Florida finished the season last in the SEC in scoring and yards per game and failed to top 20 points during its miserable seven-game losing streak to end the year.
“We’ve got to find a way to manufacture more points,” Muschamp said following Florida’s latest disaster, a 37-7 loss to rival Florida State on Saturday. “There’s no question moving forward we need to do that.”
The team’s offensive struggles were not unique to this season. A year ago, the Gators ranked 103rd in the nation in offense despite enjoying an 11-2 record and a trip to the Sugar Bowl.
This season, Florida’s offensive shortcoming became impossible to ignore. While many players have toed the company line throughout the season, defensive end Jon Bullard begged for an improved offense next season following Saturday’s game.
“Give us 21 a game,” Bullard said. “If they can do that, then I would put the blame on us if they score 21 points or over. What we’re doing right now just ain’t working.”
Even Florida’s usually stoic athletic director, Jeremy Foley, chose to speak up prior to Saturday’s game. While talking with a group of reporters in an impromptu news conference, he suggested changes were going to be made to fix a broken offense.
“I don’t think it’s any secret,” Foley said. “We’ve got to fix that side of the ball. I’m not being disrespectful to anybody, but you look at some of the games we’ve lost, we haven’t scored many points. This year or last year, what have you, that has to get fixed.”
Pease signed a three-year contract worth $1.8 million including bonuses before the 2012 season. In January, UF added a year to his deal and increased his base salary from $490,000 to $590,000. Florida will now be on the hook for the remainder of his deal — minus his new salary if he takes another coaching job — through the 2015 season.
He said last week he felt he deserved to return, citing the overall progress of the offense during his two years at the helm and the unforeseen circumstances that plagued the team this season. Florida lost its starting quarterback during its third game of the season and had been forced to deal with injuries to several other offensive players.
However, a string of ugly performances to end the season sealed Pease’s fate.
Muschamp called the offense’s struggles “infectious” and a “week-in, week-out occurrence” following a disastrous 26-20 loss to FCS opponent Georgia Southern on Nov. 23. Weeks earlier, he called the unit “inept” after a road loss to Missouri.
Florida’s third-year coach now enters the offseason with more than coaching changes on his mind. He hinted Saturday that an entire offensive overhaul could occur before next season rolls around.
“We need to take a look at ourselves schematically with what we’re doing,” Muschamp said. “There have been some things that have happened that are very difficult to overcome, but schematically, there’s no question we need to take a look at ourselves.”