Billy Donovan offers support for Florida’s football coach, again: ‘I am a huge Will Muschamp fan’

By Adam Silverstein
October 24, 2014

For the second time in 10 days, Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan went out of his way to openly praise Will Muschamp, standing behind Florida’s embattled football coach as Muschamp faces a likely dismissal following his team’s poor start to the 2014 season.

Last Wednesday, Donovan said he had an “enormous amount of respect” for Muschamp, noting that he took over a challenging situation in 2011 and dealt with an insane number of injuries in 2013. Donovan even revealed that he had Muschamp speak with the basketball team this past summer in order to enlighten players on how quickly success can turn into struggle.

During an appearance on an ESPN.com college basketball podcast that was published on Friday, Donovan went even further in his support of Muschamp.

“I will tell you this: I am a huge Will Muschamp fan,” he said.


“I really respect him as a man, and I respect the way he goes to work every day and the way he’s tried to deal [with this situation] and address his team. Certainly in these situations, they’re always challenging, but as a man, he’s a great guy, and I think he’s an outstanding football coach.

“I don’t know enough about the Xs and Os to probably pass an opinion on that, but I do know that Will Muschamp is a man and there’s nobody rooting harder for him than I am because he’s about all the right things. And he’s a football coach. And he’s a coach to the core. And I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”

Donovan noted, as many have before, that Muschamp’s 4-8 record in 2013 was due in large part to 15 season-ending injuries (10 to starters). The basketball coach called it “totally impossible to overcome the level and talent of players that [Muschamp] had [injured].”

He also has no doubt that Muschamp’s mindset, at this time, is on improving the Gators on the field, not his job status for the remainder of this season and beyond.

“I would imagine that every day he’s putting his head down, getting to work and figuring out how to make his team better. And I just don’t see them as football coaches, or any coach for that matter, really having time to deal with all that [external noise]. There’s nothing you can do about that,” Donovan said. “The only thing he has control over, that any of us do as coaches, is to try to get our team better and to try to get them to move in a positive direction. I think as a coach, you try to control the things you can control there.”

He added: “Listen, if Will Muschamp is out playing golf every single day and he’s not working and he’s not doing that, I get that, but this guy is working his tail off and he’s in there I can tell you, around the clock, trying to make this team better.”

Donovan said he has “a lot of respect and a lot of love” for Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and the way he has “stood by Will” and given him “every opportunity to be successful.”

In the end though, he’s much less concerned about Will Muschamp as he is the Muschamp family, which is unable to shield themselves from the major criticisms and insults hurled at their husband and father from seemingly every direction.

“That bothers me deeply in all this stuff. I think as coaches we understand that we’re in a job and there’s going to be some criticism and there’s going to be some people that aren’t happy with the way things are going. And I get that. But I just don’t like it when people don’t’ take into consideration that here’s young kids and there’s families involved that have to do with that stuff,” he said.

“I really hope that on every college campus, people would say, ‘Listen we’re going to trust the administration, the coach. We’re just going to rally around the team, let the chips fall where they may and just be as supportive as we possibly can.’ I know I’m leaving in a fantasy land by saying that, but I think sometimes people don’t realize that Will Muschamp has got some young kids, he’s got a great family, a great wife there.

“It’s probably a lot harder for them to get away from that kind of noise than it is for will. Will can go into the office and get down and deal with players on the practice field, and he’s doing it. But his wife and his kids, they got to deal with and see that kind of stuff, and I always worry about how in some way that impacts them in any form or fashion.”

14 Comments

  1. Ken (CA) says:

    “but I do know that Will Muschamp is a man”

    haha, reminds me of Mike Gundy “I’M 40, I’M A MAN!”

    Another coach who probably should be considered on the list.

  2. Stephen James says:

    Although I do want Muschamp to go, I’m astounded at to how we even got here. He seems to do everything right: works hard, recruits at an elite level, clean program, and can coach a pretty good defense (except on third and 20+). That being said, the offense (and special teams during last game) has obviously been putrid. As a head coach, it ultimately falls on his shoulders. My question is- why? Is Kurt Roper not what we hoped for, and thus another failure on his part to bring in the right coordinator? Do we not have the athletes? Is Jeff Driskel the whole problem?

    Maybe Muschamp is just still young and still learning. Maybe he has horrible luck. I honestly have no idea. Generally where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The fire is everywhere right now, but you generally see other things that clearly lead up to it. I feel I follow the program fairly closely, but I just can’t see how we ended up here. Maybe this will be in a silver lining one day.

  3. David says:

    Muschamp is a good coach who has had to learn how to be the CEO of a major college program. As a defensive minded head coach I think his biggest problem on offense is not having had an OC that he had a prior working relationship with. Right along with that has been major issues at the QB position. Imagine if Donovan was trying to run his basketball program with a point guard who was not a leader and lacked instincts to play the game at a high level. That is what Muschamp has been dealing with and it in a big way has hurt the program. JD would be adequate in some programs but at UF you need an alpha male at that position.

    • apprentice says:

      “That is what Muschamp has been dealing with and it in a big way has hurt the program.”

      And whose fault is that? Is he just a victim of consequences? Or has he had 4 years to recruit and groom capable Quarterbacks? And is Driskel really the only available option? Why did it take him 7 games to start Treon Harris?

      Listen, I know many of you were rooting for Muschamp for some reason (I still can’t understand this argument that he’s “likeable”… he’s a pouting baby that has challenged fans to fight and is always curt with the media, his only access to the fans), but let’s not act like this whole thing wasn’t his fault.

      Also, I wish we would stop repeating this:
      “Donovan noted, as many have before, that Muschamp’s 4-8 record in 2013 was due in large part to 15 season-ending injuries (10 to starters).”

      One season is a fluke. Three bad seasons is a trend. We have no crippling injuries this time around and we’re well on our way to a second losing season.

      • David says:

        Bad or mediocre at best QB play, plain and simple, is the reason for the problems. You cannot cover it up and it effects the entire team. Is Treon Harris or Will Grier the answer who knows. Maybe the QB they currently have committed will come and develop into a player. To be elite you have to have elite QB play. The Gators are not even getting average play at that position. Will Muschamp is not an offensive coach just like Jimbo Fisher is not a defensive guy but you have to get the right personnel.

  4. Suedawgue says:

    Why haven’t very many people not looked up and brought up the stats on the number of dropped passes on third down, in the end zone, wide open, etc and put that into the equation of the won/loss record? A valid question is why so many dropped passes? Is the receivers coach the right person for the job? An ex-quarterback (yes, with an excellent track record as QB) the right person for coaching and improving the receivers?

    I remember when Jabbar Gaffney was a receiver and in an interview he stated he would turn out the lights in his room and lie in his bed and throw the football up in the air and catch it in the dark over and over until it became a reflex. It paid off. How often have we as Gator fans seen when the ball just hit his hands it was a reception?

    The correct instruction (coaching) could pay dividends for these receivers.

    • Dropped pass stats are not the easiest to find historically. Also, while it is a big issue, it is minor in the grand scheme of what’s been wrong the last few years.

    • Frank says:

      Coach previously explained that with the Joker firing happening when it did, it would have been very difficult to bring in someone from the outside, hence he went with what he had and probably thought Chris would at least be a good motivator. My deal is, like someone commented recently, if the starters aren’t catching the ball pull ’em and let the backups give it a shot. Just a thought…GO Gators!!! Beat Georgia!!!

  5. Frank says:

    I agree with Coach Donovan 100%!!! We need to get a grip Gator Nation. Let this thing play out and then make a decision. Otherwise cool it on the destructive comments. Calling Coach names or accusing him of intentionally sabotaging the team as a uga spy is about as ridiculous as it gets. Go Gators!!!

  6. swampem says:

    I can’t help but seeing similarities between Billy’s early years with UF & WM. Billy was always a great recruiter but had to learn his trade in game coaching. I see the same thing in WM. Great recruiter but his game decisions are lacking. I think he will improve with time & experience, as Billy obviously did.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      I don’t see it. Billy missed the post season in his first year, and by his 4th year he was national runner up.

  7. MAR says:

    I am one of the Gator fans who has typed that it was WM’s plan to destroy Gator football. I don’t really believe that, but I too am looking for reasons why under Muschamp, the program has sunk lower than I thought could ever be possible.
    However, there is no doubt in my mind that WM is a hero in Athens and he was worked silly by the fun n gun as a player. He must of been somewhat embarrassed and angry when SOS made sure the leg humpers felt the pain between the hedges in 94.
    Like many athletes, fans and coaches, I am superstitious. If the Gators win while I’m wearing my orange shirt and my Gator candle is lit, you can bet I’m wearing that same shirt and lighting the same candle next Saturday. I’ll be drinking the same beer and standing in the same spot as well. And while I don’t believe WM is out to destroy us Gators, I DO believe that you NEVER hire alumni from our most hated rival to lead our program. I don’t care how good he is, nothing good will ever come of it.
    That is about the only reason I can think of why after 4 years under WM, Gator football is at an all time low, because there are simply NO excuses for this. WM can win with his style of coaching, just not here.

  8. Sharon M says:

    College football has become a business. Muschamp is making $3 million a year which is enough to take care of his family for a lifetime. He simply is not winning games. It shouldn’t be an emotional decision.
    At this time he is just not successful as a head coach and needs to go.

  9. Steven says:

    Muschamp has done more to turn us into a basketball school in his 4 years than Billy D has in 15.

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