Will Muschamp put his replacement in a tough spot when he left the Florida Gators – in more ways than one. Not only did Muschamp leave a roster depleted in a few key areas, he told the media and fans that he recruited so much talent that the next coach should have nothing to complain about.
“They’ve got a deep and talented roster, so don’t let that new guy tell you they don’t have any players,” Muschamp said last November. “Tell you that right now – they got some good football players in that locker room.”
New head coach Jim McElwain‘s now had a legitimate opportunity to evaluate the depth and talent on the Gators’ roster. And while he believes there are some capable players at Florida, he also noticed that there are some deficiencies.
“You’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt and right now, quite honestly, the hand we were dealt is really insufficient at some of the areas,” he said last Friday.
McElwain was specifically talking about the Gators’ depth at offensive line (seven scholarship players), linebacker (five scholarship players) and running back (two scholarship players).
But Muschamp, despite claiming not to have heard what McElwain said, had no problem responding to it before taking a turn at Florida’s new coach.
“I didn’t see any comments,” said Muschamp on Thursday during his second media availability as Auburn’s defensive coordinator, according to al.com. “At the time [I left], D.J. Humphries and Tyler Moore had not declared for the NFL Draft. “Certainly, at that position at the offensive line, the numbers are obviously down … but I didn’t know of any [of McElwain’s] comments. Other than that, there’s a lot of good football players sitting down there.”
And then came the jab.
“[He] said he could coach a dog and win. Heck, [does] he like the dog better than his players?”
Muschamp was referencing a statement McElwain made back in December, when UF’s new coach mentioned his dog during his opening press conference with Florida.
The problem? Muschamp took McElwain completely out of context.
“You got to understand this: I believe I can win with my dog, Claire-a-bell,” McElwain said. “That’s the attitude. There are good players here. That’s just our responsibility.”
McElwain did not say he preferred his dog to his players, especially considering he had not even begun evaluating the Gators yet. Rather, he was referring to the fact that he was so confident in his systems that he believed he would be able to get by even if a dog had to play one of the roles.
As such, McElwain was not commenting about talent when he called the roster “really insufficient” last Friday – he was discussing the Gators’ lack of bodies at key positions.
“It’s hard. It hurts the whole team [having so few offensive linemen]. Just like the short numbers of our linebackers as well. We’re awful short there as well. And yet, it’s something we know, it’s something there’s nothing we can do about,” McElwain explained. “I did try to get free agency put in and we weren’t able to get that handled. At the same time, we’ll do what we have to do, find out what those guys can do and let’s do it best.”
Muschamp was much more successful ribbing Urban Meyer during his four years at Florida than he was taking a turn at McElwain on Thursday.
Let’s just hope the end result is not McElwain putting Claire-a-bell on the field and having her try to block defensive end Alex McCalister but rather Muschamp actually reading comments he’s asked about before responding to them.