Snell’s Slant: Apology to Muschamp, the Gators

A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell joined OnlyGators.com in 2012 as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team. He has returned to continue sharing his musings through the 2013 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 of those contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.

There’s no two ways about it – I’ve been incredibly negative over the last few weeks. Not this time. Not after what the Gators did on Saturday.

I apologize to the coaches and players of Florida football.

Dating back to the LSU game, I have done nothing but criticize, put down and – at times – completely rip apart this team – coaches and players alike. I sat by and watched as the losses piled up, and my blood pressure rose with each passing game because the Gators simply looked horrible.

During the games, in order to relieve some of the frustration, I would tweet something sarcastic here and there in an attempt to draw a laugh – either from myself or my followers. But something really bothered me while I was doing it. It was almost like an epiphany hit me. I had become what I hated the most when I was a player: an angry fan who was on the outside looking in and being way too critical.

The performances were so depressing that even as I related to you all my perspective as a former player, I seemed to forget somewhere in there that I put on that uniform and faced the same criticism for four years, especially after losses.


There were many Saturdays that my teammates, coaches, and I took the field and didn’t come away with a win. In fact, I remember every single game I lost at Florida and exactly how I felt afterwards.

Losing a game and failing to create a positive outcome as a team simply sucks. But unless you were lucky enough to go to a top-tier high school and never experience what it was like to lose before college, you were used to it and knew how to bounce back. The worst part about losing was walking around campus the next week and either sensing or hearing the disappointment from faculty, staff, friends and fans.

It is a terrible feeling. It’s lonely.

Many times, I stayed home from class because I did not want to deal with that crap. It was not worth exposing myself to it and feeling worse than I already did.

Players read the newspapers and watch the highlight shows. In this day and age, I guarantee you many of them follow most of the people that cover the team on Twitter, too. When you lose, you are constantly reminded of it until you win. And when you lose five games in a row like these Gators have – something I luckily never experienced – the feeling has to be unimaginably depressing.

I can’t speak for the rest of Gator Nation but shame on me for being so judgmental and not putting these losses in better perspective.

I was too quick to call for new leadership and change.

Head coach Will Muschamp was right to single out a small percentage of the fans and tell them to “get a grip.” Many of you – myself included – have gone overboard in criticizing this team considering the adversity it has been facing this season.

Muschamp is the same coach that led last year’s team to an 11-2 record and a BCS bowl berth. You can luck into winning a game, but an 11-1 regular season is not a fluke. Muschamp got the most out of the players he had last year but lost 13 starters including his best offensive weapon, special teams ace and a ton of incredible defensive players. And then there’s the injuries this year; we don’t need to go over those again.

That’s not to say Florida would be a one-loss team right now if everyone had been healthy. But with a couple starters avoiding injuries and a capable kicker, the Gators would likely have already qualified for a bowl game at this point.

I would love to play for Muschamp now or 10 years ago. He is a man with a ton of character, desire and – pardon the pun – will. He has a will to win.

You just watched him to take a top-10 team to the limit on the road with an injury-riddled team and a third-string quarterback leading the charge. He held a Steve Spurrier offense to one touchdown – one that only came due to blown coverage.

On Saturday, these players reminded me and many others why we should be proud to be Florida Gators. I’ve already given my apology. Now, for some of you, it’s your turn.

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44 Responses to “Snell’s Slant: Apology to Muschamp, the Gators”

  1. Josh says:

    Great post, Snell.

  2. Jeff Schiff says:

    You’re a good man, Shannon. It is difficult for people to sincerely apologize, let alone in a forum like this. I have even more respect for you now. Go Gators!

  3. TST says:

    Ya , good one Snell ! Guess we all feel the pain .

  4. chris says:

    Great article… Gator Nation needs to realize what that these are kids playing this game that we love so much. They give it their all and they have fell under bad circumstances this year. The coaches have tried everything in the book to pull a few more wins out but it is hard when we are missing so many key starters. Next years squad should be very talented and barring another injury filled season we should be considered elite again. Go Gators

  5. Oldflyer says:

    Well, good for you for stepping up.

    On the other hand although this is all well and good, the damage was done. Apologies don’t undo it. An aura of negativity now surrounds the program, centered on Muschamp and his staff. It is questionable whether it can ever be erased.

    You are not alone, Writers and Talkers across the spectrum have beat a steady drumbeat of negativity, with forums piling on with gusto. I read and listen and wonder if those people have any contact with reality; if anyone pays attention to facts. It all stated with inflated expectations, followed by mounting rage when the expectations began to deflate.

  6. Kevin Glenn says:

    Well said Shannon. It takes a man to realize that he made a mistake and publicly apologize. I have been saying what you posted here to countless numbers of Gators who want to come to me as a former player to vent. You should see some of my texts…lol. I have posted on Facebook and my site to try and reach the masses and today re printed a post from Carlos Alvarez to the Gator Nation. I enjoy your posts and Adam’s reporting of Gator Athletics more than any other site that’s out there. Keep up the good work and Go Gators!

  7. Frank says:

    Thanks Shannon. Your comments define what Coach meant when he said,”Get a grip!” Think I ought to cut and paste on the Gatorsports.com threads. It’s as if they’ve allowed their negative thought to become entrenched/embedded in concrete- losing all perspective. Is this a disaster of a season? Yes. Is it fixable for next year? Absolutely! How? 1) Get everybody healed up. 2) Playing time for subs=Depth 3) Very good ball players coming-some early enrollees. 4) Increased competition at positions 5) Sheer character building from enduring this disaster (See Carlos Alvarez column). One other comment- I don’t care how bad a coach might be (and I personally agree with your comments on Coach Muschamp…He will build a championship program here). NO ONE deserves the verbal assault Coach or Pease and others have had to endure. There is no excuse for the outright rude and demeaning personal attacks on our coaching staff, particularly Coach Muschamp. I agree, it’s past time for multiple apologies…Humble pie may not taste good, but it sure is good for the soul.

  8. Dave says:

    Can someone post this on Gator Country’s Swamp Gas page.

  9. Tony says:

    Snell, I’ve always enjoyed and looked forward to your articles more than the rest, because of your insider perspective as a former player. I must say, your last article left a sour taste in my mouth. You sounded very much like the fans leaving highly negative comments on this site (and others), rather than someone who knows what it’s like to be on the other side. However, you’ve totally redeemed yourself with this article. Great job. Glad to have you back.

  10. traubgator says:

    love your posts. love the site.
    i personally didn’t think an apology was necessary.

    we have a passionate coach and a passionate fan base. i joke all the time, half my buddies when i was in school couldn’t stand spurrier!

  11. Gatoralum88 says:

    What’s the saying “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades”? A loss is a loss! I credit the closeness of it to USC taking Florida lightly before waking up in the 2nd half. The Gators offense is downright unwatchable! In fact, it’s downright offensive! Don’t get soft on us now Shannon. I love your posts, but, I’m not about to apologize for being critical…and I have news for you & Muschamp…it’s not “a small percentage” of fans. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want his head to roll! I certainly don’t appreciate that hot-head telling me to “get a grip”. I’ll watch on TV but I definitely won’t be buying another ticket to see a game in person as long as he’s the HBC. Maybe fewer fans in the seats will eventually convince Foley and Machen to make a change. Coach Boom needs to grow up and stop punching chalkboards, stop screaming at players on national television, & show some composure! If he’s going to be their leader he needs to start acting like one. I’m hearing and reading too many excuses from a guy who doesn’t want a “pass”. I think we all gave him too much of a pass last year following a 14-7 win over Missouri, a 27-20 win over Louisiana and a 33-23 loss to Louisville. Again, offensively, they’re unwatchable! He’s had three recruiting classes to bring in enough talent. I just think he does a poor job developing his players. You should know better than anyone, CHARLIE STRONG would be a better head coach (agree?). He had his team ready to play in the Sugar bowl. Frankly, (& I know I’ve written it on this site before) I’ve seen enough to realize MUSCHAMP ISN’T THE RIGHT GUY!

    • ziggy says:

      GO AWAY!! Your negativity will do nothing but further hurt the program especially on the recruiting front. Who are you or any other fan to demand for “his head to roll”. GET A GRIP!!

    • Oldflyer says:

      At least get the math right. He has had two recruiting classes, plus the class that Urban Meyer put together just before he walked out the door after his sabbatical year.

      I laugh out loud when I hear the shctick about lack of player development. Is Muschamp supposed to be down in the trenches teaching technique? I read out of one side of various posters’ mouths (allegorically speaking) about lack of player development, then out of the other side praise for the likes of Joker Phillips. Any of his WRs setting the world on fire. Any of them that the QB can throw the ball up and depend on them to beat the db–like Manziel does? Like Murray does? Like Shaw does? Or that kid from Mizzou? On the Dline–Lawing was proclaimed to be a player development genius before he joined Muschamp’s staff. LBs–Durkin was ok when he was producing the likes of Bostic and Jenkins; guess he forgot how to coach when Muschamp took over. Never heard any complaints about White until Taylor did not hit the field fast enough. The OLINE has been a problem. I know it is a no-no to say that there is shortage ofof talent on the Gator roster–unless you are bashing Muschamp’s recruiting. But, the fact is that it is honestly impossible to evaluate the oline coaching considering the talent, depth, injuries and key transfers. I guess Pease can be faulted for not turning a two star QB, recruited by no big time school into the next Manning. Obviously it was a fluke that D. Lewis converted J. Reed from a failed QB into a potential all pro tight end.

      Yep, circumstances and roster limitations be damned. It is just bad coaching all the way around; and it is Muschamp’s fault.

      Going back to Taylor. He epitomizes the ridiculous complaint that is constantly harped that certain players are held back. Bad, bad Muschamp. I wonder who the complainers think actually make the decisions, or at least the recommendations, as to who in their position group are ready to see the field? Could it actually be Brian White in the case of Taylor; Joker Phillips for Robinson and Fulwood, and oh yeah Pease for Murphy (instead of Driskel?).

      Back in the dark ages, 1950s through the ’80s we had a saying about Gator football; “Wait until next year”. I can hardly wait to see what the negative nellies and bandwagon fans have to say next year. Maybe I should keep a list for reference.

  12. Joe says:

    Thankfully people will listen to a former Gator in Snell. I’ve been saying this all season and haven’t had near the positive response.

    This slamming of our program needs to stop immediately. It’s a really tough season for everyone involved.

    • gatorboi352 says:

      The slamming is of MUSCHAMP, Joe. Take your blinders off.

      There is no apology warranted for Muschamp. Maybe he can go wipe his tears from all the fan hate with his MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

      Unbelievable.

      • Joe says:

        It is your expectations that blind you from the reality of the situation. Your expectations that lead you to believe we should be winning when we’re down 15+ players. Your expectations that everyone should succeed like Meyer did. My expectations for this season have not been met but I don’t base my observations and conclusions on expectations, they are based on the reality of the situation. I’m not even going to go into all the hardships we’ve encountered this season but I’ll mention a few. We’ve been running a team with backup QB’s since Week 3. Have you forgotten? If we still had Brissett I don’t think I would be as lenient but we don’t have experience at the position. How much experience did Murphy have before he started? Mornhingweg? Going back even further, how the F* did Brantley do as a starting QB under Meyer? Where is that guy again after losing one of the best players in the history of the NCAA? Oh yeah, he left for greener pastures because he knows as well as we all know that the SEC is the most difficult conference in the country. You also fail to realize that almost all of our competition also have 4 and 5 star recruits, a healthy starting QB, a healthy O-line that hasn’t rotated like a turnstyle due to injury, and healthy defensive stalwarts. And even when we did play teams with injuries they weren’t affected by injuries to the same extent we were.

        • gatorboi352 says:

          Man down, man up Joe. Where is the player development the past 3 years? Why is nobody ready to step up with the exception of Kelvin Taylor?

          • Oldflyer says:

            Gatorboi, you aren’t making any sense at all.

            Fluke? Maybe beating one top 10 team. Maybe you could stretch your imagination and call beating two top 10 teams a fluke–if you really tried. But, come on.

            I have no idea whether Muschamp and the staff could have done better in any particular game; or over the course of the year. I do know that with the magnitude of the issues they have faced, it is illogical to make any judgement about their abilities, or the direction the program will go in the future. I might even go so far as to call it immature–but will refrain.

            As I said in my response to Shannon Snell; the constant attacks are creating an aura of negativity that could be very hard to shake. I have also said in the past, that Foley must be careful. If he dumps Muschamp after his third year; particularly after a season like this, it will be noticed in the profession. The question could be asked: “Is UF a coaching graveyard? Are expectations too high; and patience too thin?”

            I know what many vocal Gator fans think of Muschamp; none of us really know what his contemporaries think of him. It is one thing to run off a relatively unknown neophyte head coach like Zook, it is another to pull the rug on a well respected young coach who has been a key part of successful programs without giving him a fair opportunity to grow.

            There is a false sense of entitlement and a grandiose sense that UF can get any coach it wants, as though there are not a great many very attractive jobs around the country. (Having lived from one end of the country to the other, I can tell you there are many places where the humidity stays well below 90 and the cockroaches and mosquitos are not the size of small fighter planes.)

            Many very good coaches will evaluate expectations for reasonableness. For instance SOS found a home where they love him if he only loses a couple or so a year, and thrilled if they have a shot at Atlanta now and then–and they pay well. He won one NC at UF, he is in a place where there is always the chance to catch lightening in a bottle once every ten years or so. Plenty of jobs like that.

            • Ken (CA) says:

              “I might even go so far as to call it immature–but will refrain. ”

              LOL and yet that is exactly what you just did in a passive-aggressive way…

            • gatorboi352 says:

              “I know what many vocal Gator fans think of Muschamp; none of us really know what his contemporaries think of him. It is one thing to run off a relatively unknown neophyte head coach like Zook, it is another to pull the rug on a well respected young coach who has been a key part of successful programs without giving him a fair opportunity to grow.”

              Wow. Just…. Unbelievable. I don’t even need a rebuttal to this. It sells itself. You HAVE to be a relative of Muschamp or something.

            • JaxGator384 says:

              The University Of Florida is one of the top 5 Coaching Positions in the Country. It is asinine to think we could not attract a top tier coach to this beloved University. I bet Bobby Petrino would leave Western Kentucky in a heartbeat to come and install a top flight offense at UF. I know he had personal issues in the past but he has never been in trouble with the NCAA and developed great College Quarterbacks, Receivers and Running Backs during his time at Arkansas. We have had coaches with much larger issues on their records to get second chances. I assure you with University of Florida level athletes he would dominate the SEC. Remember he was on the brink of challenging Alabama for SEC West supremacy when he was dismissed. Go Gators!!!

  13. gatorboi352 says:

    I’m failing to see why an apology is needed. Perhaps to the players themselves; I get that. They only go out there and put their all on the line.

    But there is no excuse for the product Muschamp and company have rolled out in year 3. This program is way more broken today than it was when Urban left. Urban only had entitlement issues. Muschamp has introduced 3 years of the worst offense in over 25 years.

    I keep asking it, no one will answer it: What single aspect of this team/program has Muschamp _improved_ in his time here?

  14. DieselGator says:

    Well written. I agree with half of your points. The players should not be ridiculed like they are. It falls on the coaches. Coach Muschamp shows no control out there. All the penalties, he’s punching walls, calling out fans from the stands. Attitude reflects leadership, and he’s not showing that. Makes questionable calls and tries to mimick Nick Saban too much. The injuries were tough to swallow, but its not doing us any favors, doing the same stuff that got us beat previously

  15. GatorNYC says:

    Shannon – I am a lifelong fan, but rarely feel the need to write on blogs. So this is one of those rare occasions. I enjoy following the blogs to see what the gator nation is thinking and I enjoy reading your weekly articles during the season. You are obviously entitled to apologize whenever you see fit. However, I personally thought that your previous article after the Vanderbilt game was warranted. Remember, we got blown out at home against Vanderbilt on homecoming! Since when is that acceptable at the University of Florida?I agree, the players played with a ton of heart on Saturday night and I don’t think it is fair to criticize them at all especially after that effort. I will watch the game this weekend because I watch all games and I am a loyal fan. That being said, staying the course as a loyal fan and sticking up for the players is very different than supporting a coaching staff that has arguably let these hard working players down by consistently putting them in terrible positions to win this season. Understanding that injuries are part of the game, we need to remember that this coaching staff has likely been the catalyst for the most unsuccessful team in the last 30+ years. We have had 3 top 5 recruiting classes in the past 3 years, which should have given the coaching staff enough depth to field a competitive team. In my opinion, the coaches have completely failed this season (specifically offensive side of the ball).

  16. Ken (CA) says:

    I believe that anyone complaining about the players themselves or their effort absolutely should apologize. As far as the coaching staff itself, I think that is fair game and there are seem to be a lot of issues there. The reason we recruit 25 every class is because we know we are going to lose to NFL/graduation/transfers etc. There are many times in consecuitve years we have lost 10+ starters. That is why younger players need to be developed and grow to be ready to step up. Spurrier didn’t win 4 straight SEC championships without a whole lot of turnover in the squad each year.

    If Muschamp didn’t say basically the same identical thing every press conference, treat fans with disrespect (no excuse at all for some of the things he hs said), appear to be completely out of control himself so many times, the perception might be different. He has created this perception, and come in for 3 straight years with a completely putrid offense, and little sign of it getting much better due to his philosophy.

    I think you say a lot of good things, and you make some very good points in this article, but I think you are moving too far to the other side of the discussion. I don’t believe it is a very small vocal portion of the fan base that is disgruntled. I have never in 30 years seen the Swamp so empty early in the 4th quarter of games as it has been much of this season. Even the comentators haven’t ever seen anything like it when the cameras flash to it.

    I have to disagree with an 11-1 regular season record can’t be a fluke. With just one or two calls go the other direction last year or a couple of lucky breaks this team could easily have been 8-4 or 9-3. There was a huge amount of grit and effort, but last year you can argue maybe they made their own luck, but there were a few significant “flukes” that created the 11-1 year

  17. anthony says:

    I dunno about the the 11-1 season not being a fluke. My packers went 11-0 a couple years ago, still consider that a fluke.

    • gatorboi352 says:

      It was a fluke. A season full of smoke, mirrors, a crap ton of luck and a solid defense. Oh, and a little guy called Caleb Sturgis.

  18. Sammage says:

    I don’t want to be negative…and I’ll still be there for the games yelling (and not booing). But really this coaching staff has to look at itself and take the injury excuse off the board. Before the injuries started mounting they weren’t setting the world on fire. We really did get lucky last season…lucky and had a hell of a kicker. Those two things got us the wins. The offense never looked good. It hasn’t looked good since Muschamp has been here. That’s almost got to be coaching because we have had reportedly good recruiting classes…so the talent SHOULD be there. I don’t want to be negative, but three years and no improvement at all and you have to start looking at what could be the cause. Injuries? Sure that’s a factor. But entirely? I don’t think it is.

  19. Steve Bell says:

    Let’s just make sure that we beat Georgia Southern first…

  20. Spike says:

    The article mentions we lost 13 starters from last years team. I believe we have lost 7 starters to injury. That means 20 starters gone in one season out of 24 (including punter and kicker as I believe the 13 includes sturgis). If that is right, not sure what expectations would’ve been had we known we would be down 20 starters.

  21. Intuition says:

    I’m terribly impressed with the fact that the players have not quit. I LOVE the fact that they went into SC’s house and fought until the end with a 3rd string QB, a freshman RB, and missing guys all over the place on both sides of the ball. As much as I hate the W-L outcomes, this is one of my favorite groups of players that I’ve ever watched. I find myself rooting for them in ways that I’ve never rooted before. College football is a developmental game based on student-athletes and I think that the players are handling business to the best of their capabilities. There really aren’t many teams who could’ve gone into SC’s house and played a game like that given the talent and experience we’ve lost in the last 10 months.

    But I have a basic question: did we run a play action pass last Saturday?

    • gatorboi352 says:

      “But I have a basic question: did we run a play action pass last Saturday?”

      I’d like to extend this question out to “Have we run a play action pass all year?”

  22. JaxGator384 says:

    For all of the Will Muschamp purists please explain to me why this former Bulldog cannot defeat Georgia and Mark Richt. We were never tolerable of a coach losing so much to Georgia. Steve Superior and Meyer crushed the Dawgs. So please give me a break and stop making excuses for his ineptitude. The Offense has been Offensive since he has been here. 11-2 record last year or not. We have never ranked above 100th in Offense and this is the University of Florida level athletes. He needs to learn to be more explosive or he will get the same results next year. His six yards and a cloud of dust offense WILL NOT work in the SEC period. Go Gators!!!

    • gatorboi352 says:

      I knew all of last year the way UF was winning that it wasn’t sustainable. Caleb Sturgis accounted for 4 wins easily. South Carolina was a turn over laugher of a game that was over at the half. Smoke and mirrors.

      All we need to know about the state of this program today is that we are genuinely concerned about Georgia Southern beating us on Saturday. Just let that sink in.

      I just hope FSU keeps it within 3 scores.

      • nugent1021 says:

        You hope FSU keeps it to 9 points (3 scores, in UF terms)?!?!? They’ve been up 35-0 at the end of the 1st quarter in their last 4 games against halfway decent (albeit ACC) teams. They have let the other team score only in the second half against their second string. They tore Miami apart – who we lost to. They completely RIPPED Clemson who beat a fully-healthy UGA team – who we lost to when they weren’t healthy.

        if you’re worried about us against Georgia Southern…..

        Personally, the 3rd loss to UGA (this year and last, they really weren’t very good either year in my opinion – in fact, they’ve never been very good) soured me to this coaching staff. I can’t stand UGA or their fans. 3 straight losses is unacceptable.

        Foley already said we’ve got another year of this Tommy Tuberville football. I think the “merit” that Carlos Alvarez referred to will kick in at that point.

        I hope our boys take it to FSU and trip them up and ruin their season.

  23. Terry says:

    Way to man-up Shannon! I had tried to send you a stern rebuttal previously, glad that it did not go through. You addressed all the points that I thought needed your attention from your previous post. You could be a GREAT role model and mentor to help recruit top tier offensive lineman to this program. It is apparent that Muschamp and company have not been very successful attracting the elite at this position (for what ever reason).
    Use your God given talent to infuse some positive energy to your brothers in the trenches!

  24. Mike D says:

    Finally… way to own up to being wrong.

    props

  25. JaxGator384 says:

    Shannon I think you were right in your earlier evaluations of Muschamp and Pease. Let’s call a spade a spade. His offenses have been horrific since he has been here and will continue to be that way if he does not make drastic changes. He does not get a pass…Throw the ball down the field and seek big plays. His conservatism will be his ultimate downfall. Go Gators…

  26. ryan says:

    why are you apologizing? you just said what everyone else is saying as a fan. the run game is bland. the passing attack is predictable and our bench contains better recruits than teams we’ve lost to because we didn’t develop them. don’t back peddle on this one just to keep your job.

  27. JaxGator384 says:

    Please please run these clowns Muschamp and Pease out of Gainesville. Pat Haden had the guts to send an embarrassing Lane Kiffin packing (Look what the head coaching change to Orgeron has meant). Unfortunately Jeremy Foley does not due to his enormous ego. That is unbelievable because I always respected him for doing what needed to be done and demanding excellence. This is a sad day for Gator Fans…I am truly embarrassed. Go Gators!!!

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