Will Muschamp is an energetic football coach who may provide Florida a needed jolt following last week’s resignation of Urban Meyer.
He’s already given former Georgia coach Ray Goff reason to cheer for the rival Gators 11 times a year. Muschamp played safety for Goff’s Bulldogs from 1991 to ’94 and was a defensive co-captain as a senior.
“I had a reporter from Florida ask if this meant I would pull for Florida against Georgia,” Goff said Tuesday afternoon. “I said, ‘I love Will, and he was a good player for me, but I know about 100,000 Georgia people, and you think I’m going to pull for one over 100,000? Have you lost your mind? Pull against Georgia, where I played and coached?’
“I’m going to pull for Will in every game but Georgia, and I am very happy for him.”
Muschamp now is a third of the way through the Southeastern Conference after being introduced Tuesday night in Gainesville. He had successful stints as the defensive coordinator at LSU, where he was a part of the 2003 national champions, and at Auburn and now takes over the league’s most successful program of the past generation.
Florida has won three national championships in the past 15 years and has more appearances (10) than absences (nine) in the SEC title game.
“The expectations at Florida is winning championships, and believe me, I understand that,” said Muschamp, who spent the past three years as defensive coordinator at Texas. “I know there will be criticism about not hiring a guy with head-coaching experience, and I certainly understand that, but I do think you can look across the board at guys who had no head-coaching experience and did an outstanding job because they were the right fit for the right job at the right time.”
Muschamp said he has not hired any assistants and does not plan to announce any staff moves until after Florida’s Outback Bowl game against Penn State on New Year’s Day, which will be Meyer’s finale. Meyer has invited his successor to attend the bowl practices.
One declaration Muschamp did make was that the Gators are going to a pro-style offense and that he wants an offensive coordinator with a background in both college and the NFL.
“I think he’s going to do a great job coming in here and molding the offense to what our players do best,” said starting quarterback John Brantley, who could benefit greatly by a pro-style switch.
Raised in Gainesville, Muschamp grew up going to Florida games. His family moved to Rome, Ga., while he was in high school, and he played football and baseball for the Darlington School.
Muschamp had just completed his opening dialogue Tuesday when the first question concerned his playing for Georgia, coaching under Nick Saban and sharing a vacation home with current Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. Muschamp and Fisher were at LSU in ’03 on a staff that also included current Tennessee coach Derek Dooley.
“I suffered some temporary insanity there for a while,” Muschamp joked.
LSU led the nation in scoring defense and total defense under his guidance in ’03, but the SEC team he has struggled most against since is his alma mater. Georgia scored 45 points against LSU in 2004 and tallied 37 and 45 points against Auburn in 2006-07.
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said the more he researched Muschamp, the more he realized he was the perfect fit. Goff could not agree more.
“There are some guys that you know are going to be successful and go places and do good things,” Goff said. “A guy that comes in as a walk-on and earns a scholarship, they’ve got a little something to them. You don’t walk on at many places and earn a scholarship without having a little backbone and some people skills and some toughness, so it doesn’t shock me that Will has done what he’s done.
“You knew with his work ethic that he was going to do well no matter what he did.”
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...