What's sizzling in The Swamp is Will Muschamp's seat, the Florida football coach trying to hold on to his job after a crash-and-burn third season.
Circle the drain to 4-8, lose at home to Georgia Southern, and the Gator backers can turn pretty torrid under the collar in the Sunshine State.
That Kentucky is rolling into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday for the SEC opener should fit nicely into Muschamp's turnaround plans. After all, Kentucky hasn't beaten the Gators since 1986. Even last year, a bad Florida team beat the Cats 24-7.
And yet, even though the grid Gators have dominated Kentucky since the Ronald Reagan administration, the crazy fact is much of Muschamp's current plight and possible resurgence has to do with former Cats.
Start with Brent Pease, the former Kentucky offensive coordinator (2001-02) under Guy Morriss whom Muschamp hired away from Boise State to replace Charlie Weis in 2012.
Jared Lorenzen, the former Kentucky quarterback who both worked with and battled with Pease during his sophomore and junior seasons, publicly predicted that the temperamental Pease was a bad UF fit, and the hefty lefty hit the analytical nail on the head.
To be sure, never-ending injuries had something to do with Florida's 2013 offensive flop, but the Gators cratered to No. 113 in the NCAA total offense rankings. Next thing we knew, Pease was trading his sunscreen for an umbrella, heading to Washington to rejoin Chris Petersen as the Huskies' receivers coach.
Enter another former Kentucky assistant, Kurt Roper, who was Rich Brooks' quarterbacks coach in 2005. The next year, David Cutcliffe returned to Tennessee as offensive coordinator and persuaded Roper to get the band back together.
Roper was a graduate assistant at UT under Cutcliffe from 1996 to 1998, then he moved to Oxford when Cutcliffe became head coach at Ole Miss in 1999. After leaving Brooks for Rocky Top in 2006, Roper followed Cutcliffe to Duke in 2008 before answering Muschamp's distress signal.
It didn't take long for Roper to hire another former UK staffer in offensive line coach Mike Summers, although the two never worked together in Lexington. Summers is not only Joe B. Hall's son-in-law, but he was on Joker Phillips' staff from 2010-12 before spending a season with Lane Kiffin at USC in 2013.
In fact, it was Phillips who helped persuade Roper to bring Summers to Florida in the first place. Phillips worked with Roper under Brooks at Kentucky. When Phillips was fired as Kentucky's head coach after the 2012 season, Muschamp quickly scooped him up as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.
Soon after the "Play for the Joker" Photoshop recruiting strategy earned attention, only to come to an abrupt halt when, out of the blue, Phillips resigned a summer after reportedly being accused of a recruiting violation.
(Local real estate note: The Phillipses are returning to the Bluegrass; the former UK coach and his wife recently bought a house in Lexington.)
On the flip side, Kentucky has its Florida connections as well. Mark Stoops, the man who succeeded Phillips, was secondary coach at Miami before building a nationally ranked defense at Florida State, which he promptly parlayed into his first head coaching job.
In fact, Muschamp and Stoops are both a pair of old defensive coordinators trying to succeed as head coaches. Muschamp was defensive coordinator and head coach in waiting at Texas before being picked to succeed Urban Meyer.
In 2011, with Muschamp as the Florida head coach and Stoops the FSU defensive coordinator, Stoops got the upper hand when the Seminoles won 21-7 in Gainesville. In 2012, Muschamp returned the favor with a 37-26 Florida win in Tallahassee.
Saturday marks the second Muschamp-Stoops face-off as head coaches. Stoops would love to get a big win for his young program. Muschamp can't afford to lose.