New Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp was a guest of Joe Rose on 560 WQAM in Miami, FL on Thursday and spent time with the former Miami Dolphins tight end discussing a number of topics that fans have been waiting to hear him discuss.
Like Urban Meyer before him, Muschamp was likely informed of the importance of having a presence in the South Florida media as the area is a recruiting hotbed and Rose’s show is arguably the most notable sports talk show in the mornings. He frequently talks about high school football and picked Muschamp’s brain on recruiting in the area.
“There’s a lot of young men that are going to sign out of each state. The key is evaluation and taking the right guy,” he said. “There’s a lot of really good football players in South Florida – tremendous. You take Palm [Beach], Broward and Dade County – there’s phenomenal football players. I’d say probably over 200 kids out of those three counties are going to sign Division I scholarships. [You have to] take the right guy that’s going to do a nice job academically for you, is going to represent your university in a first-class manner and play well on the football field.”
He was also asked to describe any notable differences between the recruiting process in the state of Texas and region of South Florida.
“It’s not different. We have an evaluation process that we’re going to go through with each young man. From on and off the field, different critical factors at each position that we look at that we decide that this is a type player we want to have at the University of Florida,” Muschamp said. “Just like I did when I was defensive coordinator at Texas when I ran the defensive [recruiting] board. We’ve got certain things that we’re looking for at each position. It’s about evaluation. It’s about taking the right guy. Not necessarily taking the best player at that position; he might not be the right fit for your football team or your university. That’s a huge part of what we do as coaches, is evaluating and taking the right players because there are a lot of good football players out there.
“I’m not worried about the guys that don’t sign at Florida, I’m worried about the ones that sign at Florida. We need to do a great job of developing those players. A lot of these young men that go other places, I’m going to see them once a year. So I’m not as worried about them as I am the ones we are going to have on our campus.”
Rose noted that Muschamp must be excited about having current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as the biggest name on his staff, something the new head coach felt comfortable enough to open up about.
“Charlie’s very close with his family. It’s a situation where his daughter Hannah – they need to move back to South Bend, she’s a special needs child. He and his wife Maura are going to move back to South Bend to a more comfortable place for them where she can go to school,” he explained. “His son Charlie, Jr. is going to college and they were choosing colleges and they looked at the University of Florida and really liked Florida. I kind of heard that through a third party and said this might be an interesting thing to see if we can check out.
“I called Kansas City and asked for permission to talk to him and got him on the phone there. All of a sudden we had a lot of interest on his end, a lot of interest on our end. At the end of the day, it’s still Florida. It’s a great place to be, it’s a great place to coach. You’re going to coach at a high level. You’re coaching with an administration that’s willing to do what they have to do to be successful and doing it the right way.
“Charlie had a great interest in coming to Florida. At the end of the day it worked out for everybody involved, and I’m excited to have a guy as accomplished as he is as a playcaller and in developing quarterbacks. He’s wearing four Super Bowl rings. We’re going to put two on each finger when he’s recruiting.
“I’m really excited about him coming to town. It says a lot about Charlie as far as how close he is with his family. It says an awful lot about him as a person. Charlie took a pay cut to come here. A lot of people won’t know that, and he won’t say that, but I will. That says a lot about him as a family man. The more I talked to Charlie, the more I liked him, and the more I saw philosophically we believe the same things.”
Part of that philosophy is the belief that it is best to fit schemes to players and not the other way around. Muschamp explains how the Gators will recruit from this point forward.
“Coach Meyer got a lot of really good football players committed. We’re honoring all those commitments, and I’ve watched all the film and I’m excited they’re all going to be Gators. I can tell you that. There are some really good football players in this class coming in,” he said. “But when you have some changes, you tailor a little bit more to recruit to what you want to be offensively. What I really like about Charlie, and he and I philosophically believe the same thing, you can’t take a scheme and throw it on your players. You have to evaluate your team, you have to evaluate your players and decide what you can do.
“We’re not on a five-year plan. We need to win here immediately. That’s what’s expected and that’s what we’re expecting. We got to figure out right now what we can do to be successful offensively with the players we have on our campus.”
One of those players is redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, who is currently in the process of deciding whether or not he wishes to transfer away from Florida. Muschamp was asked if he has spoken to Brantley and whether or not the pro-style offense will be a better fit for him.
“I’ve talked to John. We want guys who want to be Gators. John’s been a good Gator and [is part of] a Gator family – the Brantley family,” he said. “We’re excited about all of our players returning. And we’re going to move forward with the guys we have.”
Muschamp also spoke on a variety of other topics:
On being the Gators new head coach: “I’m excited. I lived about nine years here in Gainesville growing up, walking to Gator games every Saturday. It’s a little surreal just kind of walking in here and being part of the program. [I’m] very excited. I appreciate Jeremy Foley, our athletic director, giving me this opportunity – and Dr. [Bernie] Machen – I’m really excited to get cranked up. We’ve been recruiting and it’s gong well. Putting the staff together has been exciting. [I’m] looking forward to being the head coach here at Florida.”
On how he felt when Foley extended the offer: “Florida’s Florida. There’s only about three or four [programs] in the country that are like this. You have all the resources available to you. You have an outstanding recruiting base. You play in the best conference in the country. It’s an outstanding school. Very similar to Texas in what the expectation level is to win. Win championships, do it the right way at a fine academic school. All of that was very exciting. When I got the call, it takes you back a little bit that they have an interest level in you. But it also excites you. When Jeremy extended me the offer, he didn’t get it out of his mouth very long before I said, ‘Yes!’”
On his family being pumped, too: “I got two boys 5 and 9, and they’re very excited about being Gators.”
On coaching against friends Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher and Derek Dooley: “Three guys I have a lot of respect for in this profession. We had an outstanding staff when we were all together at LSU. We won a lot of football games for a reason; we had a lot of good players, but we did a good job coaching and developing those players. I have a lot of respect for those guys, but I’m glad I’m a Gator.”
Photo Credit: Erica Brough/Gainesville Sun