Updated at 5:00 p.m.
Joining a handful of other Southeastern Conference coaches in Bristol, Connecticut, on Tuesday, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp went through ESPN’s “car wash” by appearing on nearly a dozen of the network’s media platforms over the course of one day. It is the fifth time Muschamp is being put through the wringer by ESPN after previously participating in April 2011, July 2011, July 2012 and July 2013.
OnlyGators.com is following Muschamp’s media appearances throughout the day and updating this post live with the news, notes and quotes from all of his appearances. Due to most of Muschamp’s spots not airing live, this post will be updated into the night.
CAR WASH SCHEDULE*
Now that Muschamp’s day – which included one live television spot, a handful of taped segments, four taped radio interviews, two taped podcasts, a number of photo shoots and four print interviews – has come to a close, below is where you can find some of his segments before Tuesday comes to a close.
1:45 p.m. – SportsCenter (ESPN)
1:45 p.m. – SVP & Russillo (ESPN Radio)
6:30 p.m. – College Football Live (ESPNEWS)
7:45 p.m. – Sedano & Stink (ESPN Radio)
10:30 p.m. – Freddie Coleman (ESPN Radio)
Muschamp started the day with a customary ESPN Images photo shoot.
He then participated in a number of interviews, all of which will either be tape delayed on the radio or available on podcasts.
Muschamp’s day continued with some taped video segments set to air at yet-to-be-determined times. He taped two more radio interviews and filmed five different segments.
— ESPN TalentProducers (@ESPNBookers) July 22, 2014
— Will Muschamp (@CoachWMuschamp) July 22, 2014
His only live hit of the entire day came at 1:40 p.m. when he visited the new SportsCenter set for a quick interview with Joe Tessitore, the future host of College GameDay take-off SEC Nation on the new SEC Network.
Muschamp was first asked about the new College Football Championship trophy, to which he remarked that he preferred the old crystal football. “I kind of enjoyed the crystal ball, to be honest with you. [This] would be nice on some of the cars in the parking lot, I can tell you that,” he quipped.
He then discussed embracing adversity and competition, noting that nothing will change in terms of how the Gators are perceived except “having an outstanding season, us having a really good football team and winning games.”
Muschamp complimented new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper for his development of redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel and ability to get a large part of his offense installed during spring practice.
“We’re better at the skill positions than we’ve ever been since I’ve been at Florida, as far as receiver, at running back, on the offensive line, at tight end. I feel much more comfortable [with the talent] at every position since I’ve been at Florida – on the offensive side of the ball,” he said.
Muschamp believes the Gators have “a very good mixture of talent and experience, leadership along with that, at the right positions to be successful.” He said Florida must still develop its inexperienced backups, which include a large number of freshmen and sophomores.
“I feel very good about our football team going to Atlanta, I really do,” Muschamp said about bringing UF to the SEC Championship. “I’m very confident going into the season from the standpoint of our talent base, where we are – the foundation of our program has been set – and this is the most complete team I’ve had at Florida.”
ESPN Radio decided to air Muschamp’s interview on SVP & Russillo at the same time he was featured live on the television network’s flagship program. [Listen]
Muschamp again touched on the Gators’ offensive talent surrounding Driskel and predicted a “remarkable jump in his play and his production this year as opposed to what we saw two years ago [in 2012].” He also noted that he thought Driskel had already made some major gains in 2013 save for three bad decisions in the Miami game.
He referred to redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose as an “explosive player” who left a hole in Florida’s offensive and special teams production last season. “He’s the leading kickoff returner in UF history. We really missed him as far as that was concerned. But I really felt like he had matured and understood what you got to do on and off the field to be successful,” Muschamp said. “He has worked extremely hard. I was at a 6 a.m. workout watching him run [Monday and] he looked like the old Andre Debose, the explosive guy. I think, schematically in this offense, we’re going to help him.”
Muschamp also hyped up Florida’s chances for success in 2014: “I feel like this is the most complete team we’ve had. This is, by far, the most talented offense that we’ve had. We’re not as talented on defense as we were in 2012, but we’ve got some very good players. We’ve got a good combination of experience and talent and young talent coming.”
He then spoke more about the Gators’ offense, saying that Roper has been a “very positive teacher” and “a guy that’s been very good for our football team” because “our players have been very receptive with him.” He also noted that new offensive line coach Mike Summers “has done an outstanding job” with his unit.
As far as Florida being a spread offense in the shotgun, Muschamp quipped: “We’re in the shotgun every snap unless we’re taking a knee in a victory situation there at the end of the game, which we better have a bunch of them.”
Finally, Muschamp was asked to predict which team would win the SEC East. “Yeah, I think Florida [is the favorite]. I feel very good about our football team and our staff. We’re coming into the season with a lot of confidence in where we are and what we’re doing. Again, I think this is our most complete team coming into the season.”
— ESPN TalentProducers (@ESPNBookers) July 22, 2014
Taped around 11 a.m., Muschamp’s college football podcast interview with Ian Maisel was published by the network in the afternoon [Listen – start at 37:31].
Muschamp said it is “not very often” that a unit will lose confidence in its coordinator but admitted that is exactly what happened with the Gators’ offense in 2013. Touching on many of the same topics as listed above, he also indicated that seven Florida offensive lineman have playing experience – due in large part to last year’s injuries – which gives him increased confidence in that unit entering 2014.
In regards to Roper, Muschamp said his new coordinator’s experience with David Cutcliffe was a huge plus. He also spoke extensively with Archie Manning about Roper’s character both on and off the field. “We’re going to be able to score points, not just because of what we’re doing schematically but because we have better players,” he added.
Because the Gators will now be running an up-tempo offense, Maisel grilled Muschamp about the fast-paced nature of the game and how quickly teams should be allowed to snap the ball coming off a previous play. Though Muschamp said he would like a time gap instituted, he noted that he would like it to be standardized across the board before officially implemented. He also wants to make college football’s rules as much like those in the NFL as possible.
“There’s no question that the tempo has brought some excitement to college football,” he said, “and that’s why we’re going to it. Kids want to play in it. It’s easier to recruit to. Everybody wants to talk about pro style and spread versus the NFL Draft. The last two NFL Drafts, top 10 picks, there have been 12 offensive players taken – 10 of them came from spread offenses.”
Responding to a question about UF’s rash of injuries in 2013, Muschamp said he spoke to multiple specialists in the offseason but noted that there was nothing the Gators could do about those injuries.
“Our soft tissue issues are way down. My first year, we had 15 players that missed time with hamstrings; this past year we missed three. We had no groins this year; we had six my first year. We had seven sports hernias my first year,” he explained. “That goes back to the way you’re training; this is soft tissue injuries. I went back and looked at a lot of things as far as, ‘Are we having too much contact at practice?’ I didn’t feel that way.
“I talked to multiple coaches, guys I’ve worked for, and the amount of contact was probably less than what they had. The amount of time we’re on the field, are we on our legs too much, I tweaked some things in camp in terms of how we’re going to practice. I feel very comfortable with what we’re doing. Again, the soft tissue issues are more toward how you’re training the athlete, and those are way down for us. I’ve been very pleased with our strength and condition staff and Jeff Dillman and what they do.”
On the set of College Football Live prior to his SportsCenter spot, Muschamp taped an interview while sitting next to Tennessee head coach Butch Jones.
“We just need to concentrate on the University of Florida,” said Muschamp when asked if Florida State’s national title has affected his team. “We went up to Tallahassee and won a year ago.”
He also spoke about the eight-game league schedule and permanent rivalries, noting that he absolutely wants to keep the annual game between Florida and LSU.