Will Muschamp’s loose personality is nothing new to Gator Nation.
On a Thursday night this past September, Muschamp called in to the Gator Hotline show, a call-in radio program. Normally, Muschamp or another Florida coach makes an appearance on the show, but on this night it was Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley who joined the host Mick Hubert.
Muschamp’s intense on the field, but he’s often showed a much lighter personality off-the-field, someone who’s not afraid to engage in some self-deprecation as evidenced by his “Bill from Gainesville” alter ego.
However, when someone faces adversity, that’s often when you see the true personality of a person. And for a head coach with virtually an entire fan base calling for him to be fired, you wouldn’t know it by watching Muschamp this past weekend.
Muschamp achieved his first victory against Georgia since becoming head coach in 2010. Not only did the victory come at a time when his team desperately needed a victory, but for the sake of his coaching future, Muschamp needed it just as badly.
But still, Muschamp is far from out of the storm. With four games to go, the Gators still have two SEC games remaining as well as a road trip to take on No. 2 ranked Florida State. While he’s earned himself the month of November, he’s certainly still on the hot seat.
During Saturday’s post-game press conference, however, Muschamp unsurprisingly and quickly kept things light as he started off his press conference by removing the proverbial weight off of his back.
“”Let me pull something off my back,” Florida head coach Will Muschamp said to start off his opening statement as he reached behind his shoulder. “One less thing for you to write about.”
It was a heavy weight, too. You could tell just a week ago that it was wearing on Muschamp some — the ‘Fire Muschamp’ chants, the multiple losses, etc. — especially as he discussed how it’s affected his family.
“Well you’ve got to get home and explain to your 9-year-old why they’re chanting to fire your dad. That’s not very fun,” Muschamp said. “But, again, my family understands it. They understand the deal of being a coach. There’s some great things that come along with this job and there’s some tough deals you’ve got to deal with.”
Coming into this past weekend, Muschamp’s record at Florida was less than impressive — 25-19 overall and just 15-14 in conference play. Most importantly, he was winless against UGA and a fourth loss to the Bulldogs would have likely sealed his fate.
So it wasn’t shocking to see Muschamp soak in the moment following Saturday’s victory. He had been waiting on this moment for nearly four years.
“I’m very happy for our players for understanding what we need to do to be successful the game and that was to win on both sides of the line of scrimmage … hold on Robbie, I’ve been waiting a long time for this. So you can’t put your hand down,” Muschamp said to a reporter with a smile during his opening statement. “I’m going to sit and enjoy this.”
The Gators throttled the Bulldogs using a pretty simple game plan: run the football. Florida had 60 rushing attempts compared to just six passing attempts. The plan worked, however, with the Gators accumulating 418 yard on the ground, and most important, 18 more points than the Bulldogs.
Muschamp pointed out that the coaching staff “did have a plan to throw some passes in the game.”
“I know I’ll still disappoint a bunch of Florida fans but why stop running the ball when you’re able to gain yards running?” he added.
Ironically, the knock against Muschamp has never been his personality. It’s probably one of the reasons why Jeremy Foley has been so patient with Muschamp despite such turmoil during these past two seasons. If you ask a Florida fan what their thoughts are on Muschamp, you’ll probably hear a response like “Well, I like him as a person, but he’s just not getting it done on the field.”
That’s because Muschamp’s always been a popular person around the program, likable to the fans and Foley has been sticking his neck out for him time after time in hopes that finally things will turn around on the field. He could have easily fired him after the 4-8 season in 2013 or the 42-13 loss to Missouri two weeks ago, but he didn’t.
He even made a very public appearance on the Florida sideline this past weekend to enjoy the big win in The World’s Largest Cocktail Party. The television cameras caught Foley celebrating as his emotions characterized pure elation and joy as he watched Muschamp finally get over the hump and overcome that proverbial weight on his back.
For Muschamp, he’s finally regained some positivity behind himself and the football program. It has been refreshing to see a coach not lose his personality or have the ability to lighten the mood, especially when the tension has been overwhelming at times.
But now with the potential of a strong finish to the season, we’ll probably see more of the Muschamp we saw on Saturday — a head coach relieved to be on the winning side for the first time in a while.
“I’m happy to win it,” Muschamp said. “It feels much better than the other side.”
Appropriately, he finished his thought with another quip in typical fashion.
“I don’t think they’re going to induct me into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame. I’m sure I’m on the ballot now.”