Muschamp, Gators adopting ‘bunker mentality’ as Florida players support embattled coach

By Adam Silverstein
October 27, 2014

Shielding themselves from falling bombs of criticism and ear-piercing chants for the ouster of a starting quarterback and head coach, Will Muschamp said Monday that he hand the Florida Gators have adopted a “bunker mentality” that he hopes will serve the team well through the remainder of the season.

With redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel benched for freshman Treon Harris after Driskel turned the ball over 12 times in his last four games, one part of the call from Florida fans has been answered.

However, Muschamp still remains coach of the Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) after their devastating 42-13 blowout loss to Missouri on homecoming, and fans continue to let it be known that they want athletic director Jeremy Foley to make a change and fast.

Muschamp accepts the fervor and heavy criticism because it comes with the position of head coach, explaining that he is singularly focused on Florida’s next opponent – the SEC East-leading, No. 9-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) – and not what fans think about his job status.


“It is what it is. It’s what you deal with [when] you get in this profession,” he said. “I told the team on Sunday after the game, ‘As a fan, you buy a ticket, they reserve the right to boo.’ They buy the ticket, they can come boo and chant and holler and scream and start a website and all that stuff, if that’s what they want to do. That’s certainly their prerogative. As a coach or as a player, when you come to the University of Florida or a place like this, that’s something you got to accept. That’s part of it. It’s tough.

“You got to go home and explain to your 9-year-old why they’re chanting to fire your dad. That’s not very fun. But again, my family understands it; they understand the deal of being a coach. And there’s some great things that come along with this job and then there’s some tough deals you got to deal with. But again, I don’t complain about that stuff. That’s part of the job. That’s part of what you do when you come here. It is what it is.”

No one wants to be in a bunker during a college football season, even if it does help narrow one’s focus and keep the attention on the game at hand rather than outside distractions. But if put in that situation, having seemingly unconditional support from those you’re leading would make that position as comfortable as possible.

It appears as if Muschamp has that type of support in and around Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as two veteran players, one on each side of the ball, spoke out in support of their coach on Monday.

“People can really say whatever they want. We’re the ones who sit in these meeting chairs and listen to him. The people saying that, they’re not out there coaching with him, they’re not being coached by him, they’re not playing on Saturdays,” said redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor.

“They have the tickets, they have the twitters, they have all that stuff, and they can voice their opinions. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s somewhere in the Constitution, one of the amendments, where you can voice your opinion. It’s not facts. People can say whatever they want to say, but I guarantee you [if] we go out there and play well on Saturday, we win, a lot of stuff that comes on my Twitter feed will be a lot more positive than what it has been.”

Taylor continued: “He’s just got to do his job as we got to do our job. We can’t worry about his future or what we’ve got going on and how that how it connects to us. We’re just going to go out there and play. We love playing for him. He’s a good coach. He’s a great person. I wouldn’t approve anybody else; I wouldn’t want to play for anybody else right now. That’s just how I feel about it, and I’m pretty sure every other player in the locker room feels that way. We’re not really playing for his job; we’re playing for ourselves. We got enough motivation.”

Redshirt senior center Max Garcia pointed out that Muschamp is not just a football coach to the players but someone they know on a “personal level” as a father-figure to them as well as a husband and father to his wife and children.

“It’s hard when people talk bad about him,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that being in this conference, it demands so much out of a coach. But we’re just there to support him however we can, just to love him like he loves us.

“That’s all we can do, just support him, because he does put us in the right position. He does give us the opportunity to go out there and win. But he can’t catch a ball for the receivers; he can’t make a call or make the right read on the field. He can just prepare us to do it, and as players, we have to go out there and execute.”

Added Garcia: “I think he’s handled [the criticism] it very well. … He’s been put in this position because he can handle it. If he wasn’t made for this position, he wouldn’t be in it. It’s just encouraging to see him handle all the critics that way as a professional and as a person because sometimes you want to take things personally when it comes to football.

“People have to understand we are people, too. We have emotions. We’re humans. We hurt, and we feel things with our hearts. People don’t understand that all the time.”

What appears to be universally understood is that Muschamp has one foot out The Swamp’s orange gate and not get the opportunity to walk through it again if his Gators get embarrassed and lose their fourth-straight game against the Bulldogs at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

19 Comments

  1. Rakkasan says:

    Yeah well maybe the players should have started this whole “rally around the coach” thing last season, and if the players won’t play for anyone else but Muschamp I think we’ll all understand. I’m hopeful those players will understand there are players out there that will be happy to take their place.

  2. gatormiami says:

    Gator players comments are understandable….& unconvincing. Taylor has complained on line about PT & driskel & now he wants us to believe he supports Chump. If as claimed, the millionaire HC’s job is to put players in a position to be successful…..THAT JUST AIN’T HAPPENING!!! Sorry boys, your coach has GOT to go….

  3. Rich says:

    If they do the bunker mentality as good as they execute the other things they are supposed to on the field then I believe they’ll be waving the white flag shortly.

    Nobody wished this upon them, nobody put this on them. Muschamp is in his 4th season and the players knew after last years dumpster fire of a season they had to walk the walk. They had since last November’s final game against FSU to do everything they could to “rally” around the coach this season.

    It’s a little late now. Maybe rally around your leader before the entire house is burned to the ground and left with nothing but a smoking husk of a former program, before you plan to bunker down and fight for your leader.

    What a joke. It’s like Georgia Southern never happened, Vandy never happened, 42-0 on Homecoming never happened. Hey fellas, let’s rally around Coach. It’s us against the world! More like they can’t get out of the way of themselves.

    I know they try hard and they practice hard but the results aren’t there and unfortunately there is only one thing to do.

    • Frank says:

      With all due respect, if I hear Georgia Southern one more time, I think my head will explode. Their option is very difficult to defend, especially when you’re preparing weekly for proset or spread. When Coach was DC for Saban at LSU, LSU was trying to get a contract with Georgia Southern. Coach heard the news and went to Saban and told him to watch tape. Saban watched three plays, turned off the video and walked straight to the ADs office and told him to “call Georgia Southern. we’re not playing them.” We were a broken team by that game last year…physically and emotionally. They may have been FCS or FBS or whatever it is, but they had everything to play for and had quality players the offense to keep the ball and control the clock. Just my opinion. Go Gators!!! Beat uga!!!

      • Michael Jones says:

        You might not want to hear Georgia Southern again, but it’s the fact that they were a broken team is the part that is inexcusable and that–not Georgia Southern’s option–is why we lost the game.

        Look, I’m not interested in piling on Muschamp anymore. The end is near and I’m not into kicking a dog when he’s down. But for more reasons that I care to type and you evidently care to read, the Georgia Southern loss was inexcusable.

        And if the Saban story is true, that’s just weird, but not an excuse for losing to Georgia Southern. .and I know they’re good in their division. . but they’re Georgia Southern. That’s why other schools’ fans chant their name when we come into town.

        Enough said.

        Glad the team is FINALLY rallying around their coach.

        • Frank says:

          Michael-Thanks for your non-volatile and reasoned response. As a Muschamp supporter, I’ll defend him to the end (which is likely coming soon), but I find myself hesitating before I press Enter knowing my that my comments paddle against the current. You and apparently thousands of other fans will get your wish and Coach will go. Just wonder if we’ll end up regretting that decision…God Bless and GO GATORS!!! Beat uga!!!

          • Michael Jones says:

            I hope for the best and God bless Will Muschamp and his family. UF has made him a millionaire, has given him some very valuable lessons that will hopefully make Will an even better man and coach than he already is. He gave us his best and he tried hard, I am sure of that, and he gave us some good times too, as well as that one glorious season. He also never cheated or brought shame on our school in that way and I commend him for that as well.

            Keep supporting Will. I commend you for it. Looking back through history, some pretty renowned coaches had some pretty rough starts and endured their share of firings before they finally got it right and went on to have distinguished careers. I hope the same thing happens for Will Muschamp.

            And for the record, Frank, my “wish” was never for Will Muschamp to not succeed here. He wasn’t my 1st choice, but when we hired him I backed him passionately for several years, because I’m a Gator.

            Go Gators!!!

      • Ken (CA) says:

        Not to belabor the point, but there is no reason they shouldn’t have been able to defend the triple option. They didn’t even have to cover the pass.

        This was a team that lost to Wofford, Furman, Western Carolina, and appalachain state. And Florida couldn’t compete with a division 2 team with a 6-4 record?

        That is just the height of denial as to what was really going on. Aside from injuries, our scout team should have been able to beat them or at least competitive, anyone on the 2 deep should have been much better than anyone on their roster.

        • Michael Jones says:

          You’re exactly right. Every point. Including that our 2nd stringers should have easily been able to overpower their best. Our talent is just that superior.

          It was a matter of heart. We were lacking there on that day. Coaches, players, everyone connected to the team had to own it.

    • Michael Jones says:

      I went to the Vandy game last year. Our Gators just quit. That was all I needed to see.

      If you love your coach like they claim too, then you don’t quit on him. We quit. I saw it first hand.

  4. Michael Jones says:

    The booing is tough. I will never ever boo an amateur 18-22 year old athlete that plays for my alma mater or for anyone else’s school.

    I disagree that you get that right with the price of your ticket. That’s just low class as far as I’m concerned.

  5. Sharon M says:

    WM makes $3 million a year. I think that is enough to support his family forever.
    When you are a CEO you have to produce.

    I agree this downslide is just too painful to watch. If he had been let go last year this would not be happening now. If the players love their head coach why are they not stepping up to make plays(end of LSU game)

  6. Jesse Ven-Johnson says:

    Dead man walking.

  7. uf_84 says:

    Yaaaawn.

    I sure am looking forward to hoops season getting started. As for football, wake me up when we have a new head coach. We have about as much chance of beating UGA as the Jaguars have of winning the super bowl. Plenty of tickets available on Stub Hub for those of you who think otherwise. Two of them are mine. I don’t plan to watch a single second of this beatdown.

  8. Geremy says:

    I personally think that fans should stay fans and leave coaches to do their job. (The jobs that they get paid to do). I’m always around this program and I see the significant changes that have been made to change this program. Sure, maybe the results haven’t been the best, but no one was raising cane when we went 11-2. It should be a good game saturday, Go Gators. #LetsAllDoOurJobs #GatorNation

    • Michael Jones says:

      When fans are cheering, crying, celebrating, laughing, complaining, raising hell, bragging, sulking, criticizing the coach, complimenting profusely, attending games, being unreasonably optimistic, being overly depressed, putting too much emphasis on sports, watching their team on TV, screaming “Orange and Blue,” trying to make too much noise for the other offense to hear their calls, commenting on this website. . . we are being fans.

      What does getting paid have anything to do with it?

  9. Geremy says:

    I personally think that fans should stay fans and leave coaches to do their job. (The jobs that they get paid to do). I’m always around this program and I see the significant changes that have been made to change this program. Sure, maybe the results haven’t been the best, but no one was raising cane when we went 11-2. With Harris at the helm now, we should be a little more electric. It should be a good game saturday, Go Gators. #LetsAllDoOurJobs #GatorNation

  10. sean kidd says:

    Maybe that story about Saban is true…doubt it but maybe. Here is who last year found a way to stop Georgia Southern:

    Wofford
    Samford
    Appalachian State
    Furman (in Statesboro)

    They did beat Chattanooga by 2 however.

    • Frank says:

      Good point Sean. My thought was that it was the “perfect storm”: 1)Injuries had decimated the defensive front seven-tough stopping the run 2) We were down to third string linebackers- not good when facing the option. 3) Morale was bottomed out- for whatever reason some of the players quit on Coach 4)Losses not withstanding, they had a dangerous offense- maybe those teams seeing it yearly helped them more??? I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter. Coach will be gone within weeks. Foley will struggle to find a guy who is willing to deal with this fan base, even for 3 million. He’ll settle for another up and comer, who’ll take four years to get the program going again. And Coach will be winning championships elsewhere. Go Gators!!! Beat uga!!!

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