Will Muschamp exits Florida Gators job: ‘I hold my head up walking out of here’

By Adam Silverstein
November 30, 2014

Saturday’s loss to Florida State was a microcosm of the Florida Gators over the last four years under head coach Will Muschamp.

Florida committed undisciplined penalties, was unable to take advantage of opponent miscues and could not find the end zone even with a short field, which it had often. The Gators were also plagued by uneven coaching and questionable decision-making, especially deep in the red zone and on their last offensive series when the passing game was for some reason suddenly preferred over the running game.

Similarly, Muschamp’s post-game press conference incorporated all of his maxims. In fact, many of them were thrown into a single five-sentence reply after he was asked about Florida once again having a chance to win a game but failing to take advantage of its opportunities.

“We’ve had our opportunities. You look at two other games where we had the game in hand and had our opportunities to get it done. We didn’t get it done,” he said. “It falls on my shoulders. And that’s why they’re going to be looking for a coach.”


Indeed, the Gators’ coaching search began two weeks ago when Florida lost a seemingly un-loseable game to South Carolina. Muschamp, though dismissed immediately after that loss, decided to man up and remain with the Gators for the rest of the season.

His players rewarded him with a 52-3 blowout win over Eastern Kentucky for his last game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, and Florida seemed poised to repeat 2004 by walking out of Doak Campbell Stadium with its fired head coach up in the air on the shoulders of some of his players.

But that’s not what ultimately happened. With three timeouts in their pocket and 3:23 remaining in the game, the Gators needed to piece together a 78-yard game-winning touchdown drive. One would expect Florida to go back to its bread and butter with so much time left and run the ball. Instead, the Gators called passing play after passing play.

Even after Florida benefited from a pass interference penalty on 4th and 8 that gave the Gators new life at midfield with 2:16 on the clock and two timeouts remaining, Florida stuck with the pass. Freshman quarterback Treon Harris threw four-straight incompletions, the last of which was behind – and dropped by – an open wide receiver in sophomore Demarcus Robinson.

Muschamp, who noted after the game that the Gators do not “consistently throw the ball very well,” explained Florida’s decision to toss it around so much at that juncture. He then punctuated his comment with some recently-acquired who-gives-a-shit-anymore humor that was perfectly accurate and certainly well-received.

“In the situation, we got to go 80 yards. I thought it might be a good idea to try and get some vertical throws,” he began before pausing and realizing he was asked about UF throwing the football too much.

“Hold on now, you’re complaining about me throwing it? Seriously, I’ve been getting drilled for four years for running the ball, and I say we throw it and I get drilled for it?! You guys are amazing! Holy mackerel! Seriously!”

Saturday brought a lot of closure for Muschamp, though after the game he was still upset about the loss. But it is not the end of his duties with the Gators. In fact, Muschamp has one more task at hand that he still must fulfill before he can truly move on.

“I got to do my TV show [Sunday]. When you get fired, I’m not a good negotiator. I agreed to do that. That’ll be a blast,” he said with a jovial tone. “I get to hang out with Mick [Hubert on Sunday]. That’s part of the deal, I’m not a very good negotiator.”

Once that’s done though, Muschamp will finally be in the clear. He will make himself available for professional scouts, coaches and general managers that want his insight about Florida players, and he similarly will tell any Gators juniors that wish to get his opinion on their NFL future to call or text him at any time.

Where Muschamp’s career goes from here remains to be seen. If he chooses to coordinate a defense, he could very well be the highest-paid defensive coordinator in the nation by the time he is hired. That would go on top of the $6.3 million buyout that UF will be paying him over the next three seasons. Muschamp, whose head coaching chops have now been cut at one of the top programs in the country, could also be a candidate for a couple somewhat lower-profile jobs. A head coaching opportunity at a lower-rung Power 5 program he can build may be too attractive to pass up.

For now, he is not sure whether he will take too much time off but also said he’s in “no hurry” to find a new job. Muschamp would like to “get away for a little while” with his wife, Carol. He also said he’s moved on from his Florida dismissal and has a positive mindset going forward.

“Carol and I are excited about the next step, I can assure you of that. … That’s what we’re looking forward to,” he said. “I am extremely disappointed for our football team right now. They got a good team. They do a good job. We had our opportunities, and we didn’t get it done.”

In the end for Muschamp, it always comes back to football, and while he succeeded in so many other areas with the Gators, on the field is where his “buzzard’s luck” bit both him and the team – time and again – over his four years.

In many ways, Muschamp was the perfect fit for Florida. He was a disciplinarian who got the Gators back on the right track after Urban Meyer’s sloppy exit and (for the most part) kept his players out of police blotters and in academic honor rolls. But the head football coach at Florida needs to beat ranked teams, win home games, capture division crowns, advance to conference championships and contend for national titles, and Muschamp did not meet those goals either often enough or at all.

So when asked at the conclusion of his final press conference as head coach of the Gators, his hometown team, how he would like to be remembered in Gainesville, Florida, Muschamp did not ask for undue praise. He just hopes for respect for what he actually accomplished, which despite his other failings was in and of itself no small feat.

“Just a guy that did it the right way. I hold my head up walking out of here. We did things the right way,” he said.

“We didn’t win enough games. I was asked to clean up the program. We did that.”

For a coach who did indeed do exactly that, it is a more-than-fair final request.

Updated on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.: During his final coach’s show as Florida’s coach, Muschamp exited with the following last words.

“It’s been a great four years. Unfortunately, we didn’t win enough games and this is a bottom line profession. But we certainly made a difference here. … All the people we’ve met here at the University of Florida have been outstanding. Nothing but great memories. No regrets. No bad feelings. No bitterness at all. This is a great place; it’s a great school. I really wish them well for the next staff to come in. They’ve got a good locker room and a bunch of talented players – and a bunch of good kids. We’ve cleaned up the place, and it’s ready for somebody to go take them to the next step.”

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

31 Comments

  1. Aligator says:

    Goodbye!

  2. Michael Jones says:

    Good article, Adam. Good insight.

    Now, for all of your Muschamp homers who have been claiming that he doesn’t do the play calling and therefore is’t responsible for the offense, re-read this: “I thought it might be a good idea to try and get some vertical throws.”

    And if you had any doubt about whether he has the horsepower upstairs to lead a program like UF, then read his idiotic defense of his from-one-extreme-to-the-other playcalling on our last drive: “Hold on now, you’re complaining about me throwing it? Seriously, I’ve been getting drilled for four years for running the ball, and I say we throw it and I get drilled for it?! You guys are amazing! Holy mackerel! Seriously!” Those aren’t the words of a rocket scientist.

    Finally, for the “Muschamp is such a great guy” refrain that we’ve heard ad nauseam, this: “That’ll be a blast,” he said with a jovial tone. “I get to hang out with Mick [Hubert on Sunday]. That’s part of the deal, I’m not a very good negotiator.” Go ahead and skip it, Will, it you don’t think there are $7 mill reasons in your pocket to go out with a little class. . we’ll hardly notice because we won’t be watching.

    I’m also sick and tired of hearing a coach get praise like he’s Bear Bryant because his players go to class, don’t get arrested (that often), and he doesn’t commit recruiting violations. Big deal. He’s supposed to do that at a bare minimum.

    So, hold your head, hang your head, bang your head. . do whatever you want on your way out the door. . just don’t let it hit you on the butt.

    • Dude. He was having fun. Watch the video and his tone.

      • Oldflyer says:

        Jones, I guess one nice thing about the internet is that it gives little people the chance to take safe shots at bigger, better people.

        The bad thing about the internet is that little people cannot resist the impulse to constantly take cheap shots at better people.

        Muschamp is history. He has handled himself with class and dignity during a difficult time. Too bad that his detractors cannot step up to his example. Your little BS cheap shot sits there like a fresh, steaming, turd in the punch bowl. Unfortunately, you do have company.

        • Michael Jones says:

          Actually, Oldflyer, what makes it frustrating is guys like you who continue to defend his coaching to the end in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Muschamp is not a horrible human being, I guess, although I have never met him, and on a personal level I wish him and his family the best.

          But I have always suspected that his hand was heavily involved in the offense and that this “great guy” too often threw offensive coordinators or his players under the bus when he should have taken the blame upon himself for his woefully inept offense. His comments in this article are a little peek into the reality that Will’s offensive coordinators were always hamstrung by Will. He had no business getting involved in the play calling on that last drive because he’s not qualified.

          And coaches all over the nation run clean programs and nobody throws them a parade for it and nobody ever uses that as an excuse for poor coaching. . like it has to be one or the other. . so I am tired of hearing it. I also note that his “clean program” continues to commit the stupid, undisciplined personal foul penalties that the other evil coach’s program did, just without the national championships. I don’t recall Meyer (or any other Gator coach) having a guy on the sideline take a cheap shot on the other team’s QB like we did this past Saturday and get thrown out of the damn game for it along with a 15 yard penalty. Other teams also don’t seem to have the problems that we do with guys shutting their mouths after a play and getting back into the huddle.

          So go ahead and talk about how big he is and how little I am although you don’t know either one of us. I’m tired of responding to you.

        • mjGator says:

          Oldflyer, what makes you think Muschamp is such a “bigger, better” person? What did he do that was so great? He finished a season after getting fired because he made things intolerable. He also had a contract, and he also had to be employable when the season ended. He also did exactly what many before him did, including Ron Zook.

          You say he’s a “bigger, better” person. What I saw was a guy who was slobbering and spitting on the sidelines while swearing so much that the television announcers had to apologize to the national audience. I saw a guy who hired and fired assistant coaches as a shield for himself. I saw a guy who openly blamed players for losing games (in his opinion). I saw a guy who sent a player home from Nashville on a Greyhound bus when he could have managed that situation better. I saw a guy who said he would kick a true freshman off the team for making an emotional mistake against our one of our biggest rivalries. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Muschamp is a nice guy at times and I’m sure he has a nice family, but I’m also sure that he is the wrong guy for this job. I don’t hate the man, but I hate the status of this program under his direction and control. Call me what you want, but make sure you call me THRILLED that we got rid of Muschamp.

      • Michael Jones says:

        Watched the video. He was joking around about throwing the ball and the Mick Hubert thing. Got it.

        Didn’t realize that you had written an account of what was on the video or I would have watched it before I commented.

  3. Rakkasan says:

    He cleaned up the program alright. He was like a dishwasher who washed each dish before throwing it against the wall.

  4. Sharon M says:

    Too many excuses for way too many lost games. kind of sad, but goodbye Muschamp!

  5. Alex says:

    No need to hate on him any longer. People act like he was trying to sabotage the program. He wanted to win he just isn’t a HC; he is a premier DC and that is all he should be. Foley hired the wrong guy and that isn’t Muschamp’s fault.

    And yes, this program was littered with Urban Meyer trash and he bagged them up and threw the garbage away.

    Foley is under the microscope, one more bad hire and we will be Tennessee for the foreseeable future.

    • apprentice says:

      One of the only streaks Muschamp didn’t break was the Tennessee streak. So if even Muschamp couldn’t break that streak, I say Foley hires Derek Dooley and we will still beat Tennessee next year! (And yes, we will have officially become them, but wouldn’t that be trolling in its highest form?)

  6. Mike the Red says:

    This is the guy who threw Westbrook under the bus on his way out. It is one thing to make those comments when you are trying to motivate him to play better. It is just plain petty when it is too late to do anything about it.

    Whatever Westbrook’s faults, Muschamp coached him for 4 years and ultimately was responsible for putting him in the game. If you had anybody better Muschamp, put him in. If not, show the senior some respect on his last regular season game of his life.

    Westbrook will probably be a life long Gator. Not so Muschamp. He just got rich while destroying our program.

    • mjGator says:

      Bingo! Well said Mike the Red. I am sick of hearing this guy blame players for a miscue. Quality coaches don’t blame players. Quality coaches especially don’t blame players for errors in execution. If a player makes mental mistakes, mistakes from a lack of effort, mistakes from lack of preparation, mistakes from not thinking . . . you can criticize those, but don’t dump on a kid for dropping a pass. He’s out there trying just as hard as Muschamp was trying. There is a lot of blame to go around from that game, so it shouldn’t be leveled against Westbrook.

  7. Kaleb Wolfe says:

    We did get screwed for on some ridiculous holding calls on some drives in the 2nd half that cost us some chances to f
    Get on the goal-line. The ACC Refs even before the game, I knew there was no way in hell they were going to let their golden goose of a shot at the national title get ruined it’s all about money & about how many teams you can get in the Final Four from you’re conference, I guess everyone except the Big Ten is atleast going to get a a power five team in the conference.

  8. Gatorgrad79 says:

    Adam are you hearing anything about the coaching search? What are the odds we would pay enough to be able to get someone like Gary Patterson?? It always seemed like we hired Coach Champ ‘on the cheap’ at a time when all the SEC and our other rivals were shelling out big $$ to get the right guy….don’t think the difference we saved between urban liar and Boom was worth it.

  9. Ken (CA) says:

    Any word on whether he met with the team or what he said other than the postgame locker room?

  10. W2 says:

    Great read. Wish a Coach the best he just needed to let the OC do his job and let go. Well he is right the next coach will have a group of players to win with. Go Gators

  11. Trevor says:

    Minus two “game-costing” drops this year by Westbrook, Muschamp would probably still have his job. He dropped one against LSU that really started the Gators downfall this year. If I was Muschamp I’d be mad at the kid also. He’s a senior at UF and should catch a pass that hits him in the hands.

    • Kaleb Wolfe says:

      I know it’s a damn shame we lost an actually really good pass catching tightend in Jake McGee when he went down in our very 1st game we played in vs EMU Kurt Roper loved utilizing his tight ends especially at Duke. Jake McGee was led the entire ACC in recieving yards & touchdowns. He was a define 1st round projection, I sure hope he decides to give it another go here at Florida next season we will certainly be needing him given the fact that we lost our only senior “2 run blocking” tight ends in Westbrook who was a converted Defebsive End & Clay Burton who didn’t contributed much at all, I don’t understand why they always used Westbrook on those routes instead of Clay Burton??? Or hey why waist Andre Debose talent & never let him play wide out as I recall he wasn’t bad when heathy & I promise you he’s got much experience than true freshman Brandon Powell??? & Debose was honestly our best pure runner, best vision as runner as well as certainly the best damn playmaker on the entire team. Teams just didn’t kick to him well suprise there are other ways to get him on the field. He should’ve been out on the field much more. I know several safeties we faced that he would’ve beaten on deep passing routes so much that either of our quarterbacks would’ve just had to air it out as far as they could & Debose would’ve got to it. Remember when he beat Bama twice deep early against Bama when we had John freaking Brantley at quarterback lol for gods sakes those were the Charlie Weis days when Muschamp wanted a “Pro style Offense” & I’m scared to death if what I hear is true that we’re going to go right back to the so-called “Pro-style” offense with new UF head Coach Jim Mclwain sheeze. Boy we are in trouble we have to stick with a spread system trust Treon will only get better. Lord please don’t let Foley hire that former offensive coordinator for Alabama, hell I could’ve called the plays for Alabama when they had all that talent just running over teams, this was their playbook basically run right, run left, play action and of course on every 3rd & long run a half back screen. A play I actually was begging Roper to call especially when we all knew here comes the blitz on either turnover machine Jeff Driskel or true freshman Treon Harris.

      • Michael Jones says:

        Debose was underused, Trey Burton was underused, Omarius Hines was underused. . the list goes on and on. Remember the jet sweep against LSU that Debose gained about 15 yards on? That was the 1st and last time it was ever called.

        • Kaleb Wolfe says:

          I know Michael Jones I sure do remember the one time they actually let Debose run a play with the offense ya know what this damb coaching staff falls in & out of love with especially our offensive players so fast that I can’t even freaking keep up with them. I guarantee that our defense had way more multiple formations then our offense ever did. The defense was so much more multiple. I also left out Hunter Joyner what a waist of a former 5 star fullback which is a rare art these days on college offenses especially man he was an excellent run blocker the only time I ever saw him on offense doing what he does best was on senior day what a waist but God forbid we actually go to the i fornation atleat on 3rd & shorts or even goa line oh no we had to stay in that damn shotgun every damn play it was like it was somewhere in Kurt Rooers contract that we must always stay in some form of the shotgun at all times unless we were in the victory formation. Muschamp found an offensive coordinator that was just as stubborn as he was. They make a perfect match. I’d rather see muschamp back on campus than kurt roper ever!!!

    • Michael Jones says:

      Maybe he should have caught it, but it didn’t help that Treon threw a 90 m.p.h. fastball from 10 yards away. The kind of pass that if Driskel threw it, then people would have been saying it was Driskel’s fault for throwing it too hard.

      The great coaches, the ones with the character that I keep hearing that Muschamp has, don’t throw their kids under the bus for a loss. They don’t call them out publicly like that.

      • gatorboi352 says:

        “The kind of pass that if Driskel threw it, then people would have been saying it was Driskel’s fault for throwing it too hard.”

        My god Jones…. AGAIN, you are comparing a 4th year junior to a true freshman. This needs to stop. And the ball was thrown just fine.

        Plus, when Westbrook dropped the one from Driskel against LSU no one was giving Driskel crap for that either.

    • 305Gator says:

      You are right, Westbrook is not very good at catching the ball. Why the heck does Muschamp put him in that position then? Use Hunter Joyer perhaps? Put in DeBose? It still falls on the coach to use the right player at the right time. If Westbrook can’t catch the ball then don’t throw it to him.

  12. Michael Jones says:

    By the way, for those who think we Gator fans are “spoiled” and too demanding, Nebraska just fired their head coach after a 9-3 season.

  13. mjGator says:

    As sad as I am to have another disappointing season, the one positive is that the Muschamp experiment is over. He may “be a nice guy” but he is not a head coach at this level and he conducted himself like a buffoon on the sidelines. He simply lacks the ability to lead a program like Florida. The job was bigger than his capability.

    Muschamp also commented about the true freshman who hit Winston on the sideline, saying that he would be kicked off the team if Muschamp was staying around. Really? This is a true freshman who you recruited and undoubtedly pleaded with to come and play for you. He makes one over-emotional mistake and you would kick him off the team? How about coaching him, teaching him, making it a learning experience? How about some loyalty to those for whom you expect and demand loyalty? Another parting shot by such a great man? I have seen enough signs to know that this is the best thing that could have happened for our program in the long run. I don’t care where he goes and what success he may have, this is the best thing for us. Now it’s up to Foley to make a decent hire.

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