Many did not know what to expect before Monday’s press conference. Dr. Bernie Machen approached the podium and delivered a speech that sounded more like Coach Muschamp was receiving a lifetime achievement award instead of what was his farewell press conference. AD Jeremy Foley promptly followed that with what sounded like an announcement that he had just fired his son. Those two made it quite easy to see the impact that Coach Will Muschamp has made to those around him.
Will eventually stepped up to the podium and did not sulk, did not throw blame on anyone, or anything. He had a piece of candy in his mouth and even cracked a half smile from time to time. He had just been fired from a job he had for 4 years at a school he loved, in the town he grew up in. He took it on the chin like a man and was as humble as any man could hope to be. He spoke about how he didn’t win enough games, but you could tell that what was important to him was the impact he made on the lives of the children he was responsible for. He was proud of the job he had done turning high school kids into men, whether it be in the classroom or molding their character into what men should be. The Florida football program on the field may have been worse than it was when Muschamp stepped on campus, but off the field there aren’t enough words I can use to describe how much better the program became.
What was labeled as a “broken program” after former head coach Urban Meyer left for his ESPN gig, and then Ohio State job, turned into what is now an accountable program with high GPA’s and a high graduation percentage. We know that Will was scorned for his offense and for his “stubborn ways” of coaching, but sometimes we all have to take a step back and realize the impact he has had on not only his team and assistant coaches, but the men and women that work in the University of Florida athletic offices. When I spoke to Gatorzone.com’s Scott Carter recently, he was glowing about how passionate everyone at UF was about Muschamp having success. He was kind to everyone. He loved his two sons Jackson and Whitt, his beautiful wife Carol, and most importantly he loved his job. Yes, we in the media have criticized him for some of his coaching decisions in the past, including his decision to stick with quarterback Jeff Driskel. But there was a lot more to Will Muschamp than X’s and O’s. It was about integrity, humility, and good character. I had the chance to meet Coach a few years back after he was first hired. He made me feel like I was important when I spoke to him. He didn’t have the ego of his predecessor.
But at the end of the day, the University of Florida had no choice but to move on in a different direction. Winning is what’s most important in the wild world of college sports, and he didn’t do enough of it to satisfy Jeremy Foley and the Florida fan base. Some things in life are permanent and others are just for a time, but both are meant to be. As a passionate Florida fan and former student, I take pride in my school’s success and I knew it had to make a change. But I will be forever grateful for the positive impact Coach Will Muschamp had on the University and this team. Coach Muschamp as a football coach made some bad choices (which even he admitted yesterday), but as a man and leader, we could only hope that our children have a coach and role model like Will Muschamp. Good luck and God Bless, Coach.