Florida fans have good reason to be mad at Muschamp for what his teams did on the field alone. But after what’s gone down the last few days, Gator fans appear to like him even less. However, it seems to me that people are angry at him for the wrong reasons, which is why I’m writing this. Of course, what he said is still very, very foolish…
Anyway, these are the facts:
After Jeremy Foley fired Will Muschamp from Florida, I had this to say about him as a farewell statement:
“I still like Muschamp very much personally, and wish him the best wherever he goes after this. He is a smart, talented defensive mind and a solid recruiter. I hope somewhere down the road, he finds success as a head coach. He’s a likable man and a hard worker and I think he deserves success somewhere.”
However, that was before Muschamp started running his mouth about his former team.
A few days ago, Muschamp was introduced at Auburn, and wasted no time taking shots at Florida. First, he said that he would “rather come to Auburn and win championships.” Well, who was the genius that made Florida not win any championships? But OK, I can shrug that off as him wanting to please the Auburn fans. Kind of like how I pardoned Lane Kiffin for saying he wanted to sing Rocky Top all night long after beating Florida.
Like Kiffin, though, Muschamp couldn’t stop there. He then took this shot at Florida’s facilities:
“To see all the facility changes and all the nice things that have happened, ugh, within, ugh, this campus is awesome to see. I see the wellness center, and I know the student on the recruiting trail all the kids that would come to Florida and come to Auburn, they’d tell me how nice the housing was here, so that’s good to be on that side of it now. I’m excited about that.”
I don’t have a problem with a coach wanting to make a strong initial impression on his new school’s fans, even if it’s his third stint there, nor do I have a problem with showing some swagger after being fired from your previous job to show people that you’re always willing to bounce back up and go at it again with the same intensity. I also don’t have a problem with a fan, or a current coach, pointing out that Florida’s facilities could use an upgrade- because they do (and will soon get one).
But I can tell you, Muschamp, that virtually nothing good will ever come out of one of the worst coaches in Gator football history insulting any part of the Florida Gators’ football program, particularly when that program is paying you more than $6 million to basically get the hell out of there. In particular, delivering an insult to a set of facilities that’s a few months away from an upgrade (Florida is looking to get an indoor practice facility in July) when you yourself weren’t good enough of a coach to stay at that school long enough to see that upgrade take place is mind boggling. Sure, there’s an emotional component to this- Muschamp made Florida football extremely frustrating to watch, I wanted him gone and out of my mind after the Vanderbilt loss in 2013 and now here he is taking direct shots at Florida’s facilities…- but I took a day or so to sit back and look at this as objectively as possible. And when I do, I can’t find a single bit of logic behind it.
My initial reaction was something along the lines of, “Well, Muschamp didn’t seem to think the facilities were so inferior when he was Florida.” Which as far as I know is fact; Muschamp coached at Florida for three full years before talks to upgrade the facilities began. Maybe he saw it as a challenge to himself to lead Florida to their worst season since 1979, have lower level facilities and see how highly ranked of a recruiting class he could bring in. I don’t know. I can also understand not being in a position to walk into your boss’s office and demand that he spend millions of dollars on an overhaul to the facilities after going 7-6 in your first year. But after his only somewhat decent season- 11-2 in 2012, with some promise going forward- Muschamp was hailed as a genius and fans loved him, myself included, even though the Sugar Bowl had me sort of questioningly tilting my head. If he really thought the facilities needed an upgrade, THAT was the time to do something about it.
If Muschamp had gone into Foley’s office in the winter or spring of 2013 and told him that he really felt the school’s facilities needed an upgrade, there’s little doubt in my mind that Foley would have done something, considering how much he loved and trusted him. He would have been pointing out the same thing that he did in his Auburn press conference, but he would have been doing it in a respectful way as a respected employee, as opposed to using it as the negative side of a comparison to his new school as a disgruntled former employee. That’s the main problem I have with him dissing Florida’s facilities.
It’s pretty clear at this point that Muschamp doesn’t care what Florida fans think of him (not that he necessarily should), which is fine, in a vacuum. However, the fans aren’t the ones who hired him to replace Urban Meyer, nor are they the ones paying him $6.3 million to go away. By going out of his way to diss Florida, he isn’t really insulting the fans as much as he is the men who actually did hire him- Bernie Machen and Jeremy Foley. The facilities are owned by those guys, not the fans, and those guys treated him better than you could ask for.
Everybody knows how badly I wanted Muschamp gone throughout this past year; we’re not going there again. What I will say is that I was far from the only one, and yet Foley stuck with him through times that were worse than anything Zook brought us through. Chants of “FIRE MUSCHAMP” rang out through the crowd during the Missouri game, which is an obvious threat to hit Foley in the wallet by not buying tickets for future games, yet even that (nor the coinciding blowout Florida suffered) didn’t change Foley’s mind. And when Foley finally did recognize that Muschamp had to go, he was kind enough to allow Muschamp to script his own exit by “stepping down” at the end of the season. He was loyal to the end with Muschamp, and this is how Muschamp repays him?
The other part of what makes his comments foolish is something I’ve brought up twice, but is worth another mention: Florida is looking to improve on the facilities before the 2015 season. So yes, they may have slightly inferior facilities now, but they acknowledge this and are taking steps to better them. Muschamp of all people had to know that improvements were in the works, since he was the coach of that program when talks were underway. To condescendingly point out a flaw in the Gator program that the UF brass has admitted to having and is on its way to being fixed- in answering a question that had nothing to do with Florida, mind you- suggests that Muschamp was simply looking for a reason to diss his old school. Otherwise, why bring it up? Why mention it? Or looking at this from another angle, if the facilities are really so bad that they merit a public scolding, why didn’t he call them out when he was actually at Florida and could have done something to fix them?
So if you’re going criticize Muschamp for these comments, that’s fine, because he deserves it. Be my guest. But make sure you understand why saying what he said warrants criticism. Muschamp doesn’t qualify as a disgruntled employee for pointing out that Florida doesn’t have the world’s best facilities. He qualifies as a disgruntled employee because of how and when he did it. It’s the “how” and “when” that have napalmed any warm feelings I still had toward him. And it’s the “how” and “when” have assured you, Muschamp, that I will never root for you again.
Except maybe against Georgia.