GAINESVILLE -- Brent Pease appears resigned to his fate.
During a somber news conference Tuesday, Florida’s besieged offensive coordinator was peppered with questions about his job security instead of how to score on No. 2 Florida State’s defense.
Pease said he hopes to return to the Gators in 2014 and believes he has earned the right do so, but the embattled coordinator acknowledged his murky future with the team.
“I think you look at the first year and some of the situations and knowing the body of work and not just a game-to-game basis and situations we’ve been under [this season]. I hope any evaluations are looked at that way,” Pease said in his defense. “But I understand things, too. I know you’ve got to win and have success. If it’s not meant to be … I came into this with friends, and I’m walking out of it with friends.”
During a lengthy news conference — possibly Pease’s final meeting with the local media with numerous reports regarding his future employment — UF’s second-year coordinator spoke softly but candidly, handling a number of tough questions with dignity and grace.
Inundated with inquires regarding the fans’ ever-deafening criticism, Pease said, “That’s how it is. If it’s coming my way, then it’s coming my way. You’ve just got to kind of take the blows.”
Florida’s offense ranks in the bottom 20 nationally in scoring offense (No. 111), total offense (No. 113) and red-zone offense (No. 118), but it has been a unit decimated by injuries. The Gators have lost two quarterbacks, three offensive tackles and a starting tailback to season-ending injuries.
Although coach Will Muschamp has received a public vote of confidence from the school’s administration, Pease — and the rest of UF’s offensive staff — has not. After Florida dropped its sixth consecutive game Saturday — a loss to Georgia Southern, UF’s first to a Bowl Championship Subdivision team — Muschamp called UF’s offensive woes “infectious.”
Muschamp has cited the team’s injury list as a reason to skirt complete culpability for UF’s woeful 4-7 season, and Pease was asked if he’s being used as a scapegoat despite the injury situation.
“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s a tough question to answer. … You can always address that question later.”
Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin did voice his support for Florida’s offense coordinator, saying, “We’re all in this together. It’s not just [Brent] or any one person on the staff. It’s everyone. We’ve got to coach better, we’ve got to player better, we’ve got to do a lot of things better, and we will.”
After the Charlie Weis experiment lasted just a single season in 2011, Pease left Boise State to jump-start Florida’s anemic attack. Last season, Pease’s unit ranked No. 104 nationally as the team transitioned to a ground-and-pound attack led by a first-year starting quarterback. Statistically, it was a nominal improvement, yet Pease was rewarded with a $100,000 raise and a one-year extension.
Now, Pease’s bosses are silent, and he’s left to be defended by players he might not be coaching next season.
“I think he did what he could,” senior right guard Jon Halapio said. “I love the guy. Personally, I hope he stays for another year.”
Added senior receiver Trey Burton: “I’m a big fan of Coach Pease, and I always will be. I thank him for everything he’s done for me and my family and the lessons that I’ve learned from him. I can’t put into words how thankful I am for him.”