Just hours after completing his first Gator Gathering in Lakeland, FL, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp traveled to Bristol, CT and was put through ESPN‘s self-named car wash – appearing on nearly a dozen of the network’s media platforms over the course of one business day. OGGOA followed Muschamp’s media appearances throughout the day and has put together the following recap:
He started the morning on the set of SportsCenter, where anchor Josh Elliot interviewed him about becoming a head coach and taking over the Florida program.
Then Muschamp headed over to First Take on ESPN2 where host Jay Crawford covered a wide variety of topics with him.
Read, view and listen to the rest of his day in Bristol…after the break!
He discussed playing paintball with the team, noting that he had a bunch of bruises on his chest after the players “unloaded the magazine on me a couple of times.” Asked about co-owning a seasonal home with Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher, Muschamp quipped, “Jeremy Foley didn’t ask me in the interview, so I didn’t tell him.” Finally, he said something that got some Texas fans across the country a bit annoyed. Asked about coming home to Gainesville, FL versus coaching in Austin, TX, Muschamp said, “Texas is a good place, but Florida’s Florida.”
Next stop for him was ESPN Radio, where he sat down with Brian Kelly (filling in for Colin Cowherd) and discussed moving back to Florida, what makes a good coach, Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert and former Texas QB Colt McCoy. [Listen]
Muschamp noted that his wife and family have the moving trucks in Austin as he was speaking and that it took him three and a half months to find a permanent home in Gainesville. Asked what makes a great football coach, he insinuated that his job is just a small piece of the puzzle. “Players. Period. End of sentence,” he said.
He then headed to another studio to tape ESPN’s College Football Podcast with host Ivan Maisel and provided more details on the story of being hired by Foley. [Listen]
Muschamp said Foley called him two days prior to offering him the job to gauge his interest. After the conversation, Muschamp spoke with Texas head coach Mack Brown to ask his opinion. Foley then called Brown to talk about Muschamp and convey his seriousness. Brown related this to Muschamp, informing him that Foley does not mess around. Just a short time after, Muschamp agreed to become Florida’s head coach.
He also talked about where the Gators are offensively compared to where he wanted to be at the end of spring. “We are where we are. We had too many injuries up front offensively. We had too many moving parts on the offensive line – and that was hard,” he said. “[That being said,] I’m excited about where we are and what we’re able to do.” Muschamp is also confident about being able to convert on short yardage downs. “We’ve got a fantastic play caller and a guy that’s going to put the ball in the hands of somebody whose going to convert those situations,” he said.
There was one more ESPN Radio appearance on the docket for Muschamp before he went back to television as he stopped by the studio to visit with Scott Van Pelt. [Listen]
He was asked about the transition to being a head coach, the best piece of advice former Gators head coach Urban Meyer gave him and how hard it was deciding to leave Texas for Florida. Regarding Meyer’s best advice, he remembered him saying, “‘Be yourself. Understand that there’s going to be some landmines out there and there’s going to be some things that aren’t quite as big issue-wise as maybe some people make them out to be.’ He’s been awesome. He’s been a great sounding board for me. Him and Shelley [Meyer] are going to stay in Gainseville, which I think is great.”
Muschamp then miraculously did two things at once – appeared on College Football Live on ESPN2 and did a live chat on ESPN.com (the former was taped).
Sitting next to former Florida QB Jesse Palmer, he answered questions about his mentors, redshirt senior QB John Brantley and hiring a staff filled with NFL experience.
The chat, which can be read in its entirety here, concentrated on things fans have already heard…though there were a few standout questions/answers:
Q: What is the strength of this team for the upcoming season?
A: Probably the playmakers on offense. Some emerging WRs that we feel good about.
Q: What will be your involvement with the offense? Will you have any input on play calling?
A: I’ve hired Charlie [Weis] to call the plays. My involvement will be philosophical and Charlie and I are on the same page.
Q: Always wondered how we lost to you at Auburn in ’06 and ’07. What was the secret to shutting down Urban’s offense?
A: Limiting big plays. Taking the run game away. Tackling and playing well in space against any spread offense is very important.
Q: Coach, I was wondering about your expectations for Andre Debose this season. Receiver and returning kicks?
A: Andre had a very good offseason. Had a very severe sprained ankle in the spring. We expect him to be a good player in the fall.
Muschamp’s day concluded with visits to SportsCenter on ESPNNEWS and SportsNation on ESPN2. On SportsNation, Michelle Beadle asked him to evaluate the top five defensive prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft and do the “hook ‘em horns” hand signal one last time. He refused the last request, instead opting for a Gator Chomp.
Overall, Muschamp’s day with ESPN was mostly filled with coach-speak (as expected) and little in terms of revealing information or news. However, he appeared comfortable no matter who interviewed him, came across excited yet serious and answered nearly every question posed that would not get him in “trouble.”