New head coach Will Muschamp arrived in Florida last month promising that Florida "will be a pro-style attack offensively and defensively" on his watch, and he's made good on the first half of his pledge: The Gators' new offensive coordinator is the master of the "decided schematic advantage" himself, Charlie Weis, fresh from overseeing the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense in his first season with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs confirmed Sunday Weis' pending departure, effective at the end of the Chiefs' playoff run, on the heels of a long weekend of speculation.
Given his openly bitter exit from Notre Dame in 2009, it would have come as no surprise to anyone if the rest of Weis' career was spent tucked away in various NFL press boxes, where he always seemed more comfortable – and, with three Super Bowl rings from his days with the Patriots, more successful than he ever was in the top job in South Bend. Weis' Irish teams made it into a pair of BCS games in his first two seasons, but never recovered from a 3-9 collapse with an overhauled lineup in 2007: In five years, Notre Dame was 1-12 against teams that finished in the top 25, lost 20 of its last 23 against teams that finished above .500, lost twice to Navy in South Bend and punctuated consecutive November collapses in 2008-09 with home losses to unranked Big East also-rans Syracuse and UConn, respectively.
Along will former Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan (now offensive line coach of the New York Jets), Weis is the epitome of the single-minded chalkboard guy who will always be more comfortable in a darkened filmed cave than slapping backs at booster clubs. He did fine with recruits, but his antisocial image did him no favors when the record turned south, and Florida fans weened on fire-breathing attacks under Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer will turn on a scoreless quarter or two even against coaches they're not predisposed to dislike.
Still, given a competent veteran quarterback, Weis' offenses regularly lit up the box scores. With Brady Quinn in 2005-06 and the more seasoned version of Jimmy Clausen in 2009 – as opposed to the overwhelmed freshman-in-the-headlights version of 2007 – the Irish unleashed top-10 passing attacks that averaged upwards of 30 points per game. In fact, Weis' attack finished ahead of or in a dead heat with Urban Meyer's spread option machine at Florida in terms of total offense in all three of those seasons, including the Gators' BCS Championship run in 2006 and the Tebow-led march to a 13-1 finish in 2009. With the exception of the '07 debacle and a mediocre follow-up in '08 – two alarmingly green teams across the board – Weis has a solid decade of first-rate offenses on his resumé, from the sideline and the booth.
His first mandate at Florida: Figure out how to turn John Brantley, head scapegoat for the Gators' staggering 2010 regression, into something more closely resembling his former protégés. Weis' track record with lead-footed pocket passers is a strong incentive for Brantley to commit to returning to Gainesville for his senior season, where he won't be nearly as out of place as he was trying to run the spread option.
Brantley conceded after Muschamp's insistence on a "pro-style" regime that "it was definitely better to hear more pocket passing," even if it wasn't enough at that point to fully rule out a transfer. A more solid plan with Weis aboard may be enough to keep Brantley in the fold – or else start over in the spring with the only other viable option for a dropback passing system, hyped incoming freshman Jeff Driskel. X's and O's are fine, but there's no accounting for not being forced to throw the 18-year-old to the wolves.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.