New offensive line coach Mike Summers has his work cut out for him. He takes over an injury plagued unit that struggled to find any consistency. Former Florida center Jonotthan Harrison was the only player to play in all 12 games. But if there’s one person who can turn around one of the Gators biggest weakness, it’s Summers. He’s got a wealth of knowledge and experience as he takes over the offensive line coaching duties from the departed Tim Davis.
Summers has 34 years of coaching experience across 14 teams, including the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons in 2007. He’s coached with current SEC teams 11 of those years. He got his start as a graduate assistant at Kentucky after he played as a defensive back at Georgetown (KY) College. From 1980 to 1984, Summers served as an offensive line graduate assistant for Kentucky and Texas A&M. He got his first crack at coaching as Northern Illinois’ offensive coordinator from 1985-90. Summers was incredibly successful with the Huskies, setting 51 school records as well as seven NCAA marks. He moved to a major conference in 1991, joining Oregon State. The Beavers lead the Pac-10 in rushing in four out of the five seasons Summers was offensive coordinator. He then joined a charter member of the original SEC, the University of the South, or Sewanee. Sewanee has had an incredible football history and tradition. The 1899 team, which went 12-0, shutting out 11 teams, and winning by a combined score of 322-10, is considered one of the greatest football teams in college football history. Summers didn’t have that kind of success with the Tigers, however. His teams went 17-19 in his four years as offensive coordinator. He moved to Oklahoma State for the 2000 season as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator and then to the Ohio Bobcats for two seasons as the offensive line coach.
His next seven years were spent with Bobby Petrino, where he contributed to some of the most prolific offenses at that time. Summers was the offensive line coach for Petrino for four years with Louisville, one year with the Falcons, and two more years with Arkansas. During his 2004 season with the Cardinals, Summers helped Louisville break school records for total yards, rushing yards, points, and rushing touchdowns while leading the country’s top total and scoring offense. After Petrino resigned from the Razorbacks, Summers joined former Florida wide receivers coach, and then Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips as the offensive line and run game coordinator. Finally, Summers spent one season on Lane Kiffen’s staff at USC, holding the same title.
If there’s one thing that consistently follows Summers, it’s the prolific offenses he’s helped coach. He’s also helped put talent into the NFL with 12 players being drafted from teams he’s coached. Of those 12 players, 11 played on the offensive line and the other was a wide receiver. One of the most overlooked aspects of his style is his recruiting prowess. He helped land some very good offensive line classes at Arkansas and Kentucky, something he will be looked upon to do again.
Summers certainly has a lot of work to do, but with his pedigree and a healthy line, he could be part of one of college football’s best turnarounds of the 2014 season. He’s worked all kinds of offenses, from spread to pro-style, so he should integrate seamlessly with new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper‘s scheme. Summers is put into a tough position this season, with his fate tied to that of head coach Will Muschamp‘s. If they don’t find success, especially along the offensive line and offensive production, then both of them could be searching for new jobs next season. I have every bit of confidence Summers can help turn around, even if his grammar skills are questionable. You may remember he tweeted out a sign reading “Florida Gators Offensive Line - the most physically dominate unit on the field!!!”. He since corrected it:
At least he had a little fun with it. With only 78 days until Idaho, Summers helps provide a new level of anticipation as he tries to flip the script on one of Florida’s most painful units to watch. He returns four starters, so the unit will not be lacking in experience. Here’s to hoping he finds success.