Whether you want to call it tough love or the mark of a players’ coach, head coach Will Muschamp believes in one quality above all else: honesty.
So when he was asked Wednesday if he felt any pressure to make his players like him upon taking over the team, he dismissed the idea and instead explained how his policy of truthfulness is mutually beneficial in the long run.
“I am who I am. I don’t really change for anybody,” he said. “My whole deal in coaching is, if [the players] respect you and they trust you, eventually they’ll like you because they’ll understand what you stand for.”
Whether Muschamp is delivering good news or bad news, he does so in the same manner and expects his players to respond and act accordingly.
“I’m about being honest with the players and sometimes they won’t like what I tell them, but I’m going to be honest with them and tell them the way it is,” he said. “Sometimes they don’t like the way I tell them either. I’m going to be honest with you, I’m going to tell you the way it is. When you do it right, I’m going to tell you. When you do it wrong, I’m going to tell you.
“We’re going to do things a certain way. I think they respect that, and I think they understand that when I tell them something, they can trust me.”
“I think over a period of time, when [the players] see respect and they see trust and they see a staff that has a track record of being successful where they’ve been in what they’ve done and winning and all of those things, I think that builds a little credibility,” Muschamp explains.
“At the end of the day, coaching is a peoples game. You’ve got to relate to people. They’re all different, and they’re all motivated different ways. I think it’s our job as coaches to find what keys they have individually. It’s not the old saying of treating everybody the same way. You really don’t to be honest. We’ve got to figure out what makes them tick – each individual.”
With that in mind, Muschamp made a point to get input and feedback from his players when he met with them one-on-one in the spring. After discussing their respective strength training, academic standing and place on the team, he asked each player about his opinions on the program and how things could be adjusted to suit him better.
“The guys you can listen to, they’re going to be honest with you and generally tell you this will be nice for this, this will be nice for that,” he said. “It goes back to one of the base things I talked about in this program – communication. Communication takes two. Respect and trust takes two. You got to be able to do that with people.
“I tell them all the time, ‘I love suggestions. We may not do them all, but certainly I want your input because this is your program.’ I always tell the staff, ‘We’re here to serve the players. We got to hold them accountable, make them responsible and dependable in what they’re supposed to do.’”
While he may not necessarily believe in one old saying, Muschamp certainly holds another in high esteem.
Honesty is the best policy.