Florida Gators football: New candidate emerges for OC

All that Florida Gators football fans want for Christmas is a new offensive coordinator, but it seems they will be sorely disappointed when they look under the tree.

The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley reported Monday that Florida would not hire its new offensive coordinator until after January 1.

So now the question becomes, who will this new offensive coordinator be?

Up until a few days ago, it appeared USC’s offensive coordinator and interim head coach Clay Helton was the leading candidate. Helton seemed like a perfect match. He was born and raised in Gainesville, as the son of former Gators’ player and offensive line coach Kim Helton. He also has experience coaching in both a pro-style and up-tempo offense. However, this seemingly perfect marriage was not meant to be, as it appears Helton will remain on staff at USC under the Trojans’ new head coach Steve Sarkisian.

But it seems a new leading candidate has emerged in Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. According to coachingsearch.com, Roper met with head coach Will Muschamp in Gainesville on Monday.

Florida GatorsRoper has spent the past six seasons as Duke’s assisstant head coach/offensive coordinator and quarterback’s coach. Prior to that, he coached at Tennessee (2006-07), Kentucky (2005) and spent six seasons at Ole Miss (1999-2004).

Roper fits the mold that Muschamp appears to be looking for in his next offensive coordinator. He is a young and up-and-coming coach that is one of five finalists for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach. This season, Roper has directed a Duke offense that has been among the best in school history. The Blue Devils have scored a school-record 411 points (31.6 points per game) this season behind a balanced attack that averages 234.4 pass YPG and 173.7 rush YPG.

It doesn’t appear that Roper has been offered the job, at least not yet, and he could be one of a number of candidates to interview for the job in the coming weeks. Florida football fans have been anxiously waiting for a new coordinator to be named, and although it would have made the holidays more relaxing, Muschamp (who could be coaching for his job in 2014) is making the right decision by taking his time in trying to find the right guy for the job.