Florida Gators AD Jeremy Foley outlines his plan in hiring the program’s next head coach

Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley concluded his press conference on Monday by addressing how and when the program will move forward in hiring a replacement for head coach Will Muschamp. He also outlined the qualities an ideal candidate would possess, with a renewed focus on offensive success of paramount importance in the search.

“The search will begin immediately, this afternoon,” Foley began.

“There is no fixed timetable but we’ll proceed as quickly as we can. There’s a lot of work to do, a lot of research to do. We understand how important this hire is for this university. We also understand the pride of the Gator Nation. We understand the pride they have in this football program.

“Because we have fallen short the last several years, we totally understand the disappointment and their frustration. Their passion can cut both ways, and it’s their passion that makes this place special. … It’s an amazing place, so we absolutely want to make this right for them, for this football program and for this university.”

Foley noted that he is looking for a “high-integrity, high-character” individual like Muschamp. “Our mission statement around here says, ‘Championship experience with integrity.’ That is paramount to us as we move forward.”

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Muschamp discusses Florida dismissal with class as Foley, Machen sing his praises

If you did not know entering Monday’s three-headed press conference with Florida Gators president Bernie Machen, athletic director Jeremy Foley and head football coach Will Muschamp that the purpose of the event was to discuss the dismissal of the third man on that list, you might have thought it was held to explain why Muschamp was receiving a raise and contract extension.

Over approximately 45 minutes inside the Florida football facility, Machen and Foley sung Muschamp’s praises. When Muschamp got to the podium, he shared similar sentiments about his employers and the program he was leaving behind.

“From my perspective as president, I have treasured – literally treasured – the last four years in working with Will. He was asked to come here and build a program, a program built on character and good academic values, and he was asked to develop young men that would be a credit to the Gator Nation. He has done that,” said Machen.

“Will and Carol and their family … are beloved by the people of this community, and we feel like they are ours. Never have I worked with a coach in any sport over three different universities that has been more supportive of the university mission and what we’re trying to accomplish. In the end, can you say that someone who has to leave has made a positive contribution? And the answer for that is definitely yes for Will Muschamp. In fact, I would love for my son or my grandson to have the opportunity to be coached by Will Muschamp.”

Foley admitted it was hard to follow Machen’s comments because it is how everyone within the Gators program feels about Muschamp.

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Will Muschamp fired as Florida Gators head coach, will remain with team through season

Updated at 3:20 p.m.

Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley has fired head coach Will Muschamp, hours after Muschamp’s team collapsed in the fourth quarter and fell to South Carolina 23-20 in overtime, though a Florida release terms the parting of ways as Muschamp “stepping down at the end of the regular season.”

A Gainesville, Florida, native in his fourth season at the helm of the Gators football program, Muschamp is 27-20 (.574), 17-15 (.531) in Southeastern Conference play, but will have the opportunity to improve his final record as he will remain at Florida for the final two games of the regular season.

“Upon evaluation of our football program, we are not where the program needs to be and should be. I’ve always said that our goal at the University of Florida is to compete for championships on a regular basis,” Foley said in a statement. “Coach Muschamp was dedicated to developing young men both on and off the field. Our student-athletes showed tremendous growth socially and academically under his leadership. His players were involved in campus activities, engaged with the local community and represented the University of Florida with pride.

“I will be forever grateful to Will and his staff for their unwavering commitment to the University of Florida and the mission of our athletic program. He will be missed by everyone in our athletic department – from the people that worked in his office to the people that painted the fields. Will knew everyone and they knew him and everyone in the building loved working with him. Will is as fine a man as you will ever meet, and I will always cherish our relationship with him and his family.”

A source told OnlyGators.com at approximately 9:30 p.m. Saturday night that the necessary parties had been notified hours earlier that Muschamp would not remain at UF.

With three season left on his contract, Muschamp could receive approximately $2 million per year plus an additional $1 million, making his total buyout from the University of Florida almost $7 million if he is fired by the school. It is unknown what sum Muschamp will collect if his departure is indeed a resignation.

Muschamp will remain with the Gators for their final two regular-season games against Eastern Kentucky and Florida State. Foley and school President Bernie Machen also asked previously-fired coach Ron Zook to stay on for the remainder of his 2004 season, calling it “something he deserves” and the “honorable thing to do.” Muschamp’s dismissal comes exactly 10 years and 27 days after Zook’s firing.

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The Silver Lining for Thursday, October 30, 2014: Gators confident, debunking Foley-Meyer myths

Yes, The Silver Lining is once again out on Thursday. It will return to its regular Wednesday afternoon slot…eventually.

Gators won’t stop believin’

This time last year, Florida was down in the dumps, sporting a 4-3 record after consecutive road losses to LSU (17-6) and Missouri (36-17). The Gators have one fewer win (due to the canceled Idaho game) but those same losses to the two groups of Tigers (30-27 and 42-13, respectively), despite the fact that UF was supposed to be improved in 2014 and played both of those contests at home.

Nevertheless, facing it’s last possible chance to salvage the season and somehow remain in the SEC East race, Florida is putting on a strong, confident face entering its rivalry game against the No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs.

Numerous Gators expressed pure determination while meeting with the media this week. While they obviously chose not to guarantee a win against a program that has beat them three-straight years and proved to be the better team at the season’s halfway point, there were no heads down or shoulders slouched.

Here’s what a number of players had to say about the team’s current mindset…

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8/26: Optimism and confidence surround Florida as Muschamp kicks off game week vs. Idaho

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Tuesday to open up game week ahead of the first game of the season against the Idaho Vandals at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.

Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel and redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor also shared some comments to kick off game week.

This post was updated Wednesday will comments Muschamp made during his weekly appearance on the Southeastern Conference media teleconference.

OPTIMISM AND CONFIDENCE

A new season is on the horizon for the Gators, and Muschamp knows that his team is ready for the opportunity to prove to doubters that 2013 was a fluke and not how Florida football is supposed to be played. He has seen the renewed drive and dedication from his team on the field, in meeting rooms and during events outside of the facility. Now he just hopes that UF will be able to put it all together on Saturday.

“Any time you go through a tough time in your life, you reflect and you get humble and you work hard and you pull together and you understand that people around you are close to you. Certainly in the building, number one, but within that locker room, number two, I’ve seen a very close-knit unit,” he said.

“In that locker room, there are a lot of guys that know how to practice, know how to practice the right way. They know how to compete and get after each other but also how to take care of each other. It’s been a lot of fun in training camp. I’ve really enjoyed being around the guys. You can see the camaraderie and togetherness in this football team, and I really look forward to seeing them competing in front of our fans.”

Taylor said the excitement around the program is palpable, and the Gators have an opportunity to ride the wave of momentum into the season by pulling off a victory over the Vandals.

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13 Gator Bites for Friday, June 13: Graham, Dendy, Harvin, Haslem, softball, MLB, Parsons

From time to time, OnlyGators.com will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Florida Gators redshirt sophomore guard Dillon Graham on Friday tweeted that he has “finally [been] cleared” by team doctors after missing most of the 2013-14 season following surgery to repair bone spurs in his hips. Less than a month ago, head coach Billy Donovan said he did not expect Graham to be cleared for contact until August or September. Doctors are likely allowing Graham to work out and practice in non-contact situations at this time. “He’s missed a whole entire year of development and now you’re talking about an entire summer and into the fall without it,” Donovan said on May 22. “So, when he does get back, what is he like as a player and maybe how long does it take to get him back to maybe where he was? I think that’s going to be a long process for him.”

» Florida junior jumper Marquis Dendy on Thursday captured the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championship in men’s long jump. The outdoor long jump title in school history, Dendy’s 8.00m/26-3 championship-winning mark was his best of the season. Actually, all three of his jumps would have won the crown for Dendy, who previously won the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championship in the same event. He did not even need to take the last jump but chose to do so because he was “in the moment” and also wanted to qualify nationally in the event. He returns to the field on Saturday for the men’s triple jump, an event UF has dominated in recent years.

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FOUR BITS: Hill, Reed, Division IV, Idaho

1 » New York Giants safety Will Hill on Friday was officially suspended by the NFL for the first six games of the 2014 season, marking the third-straight year that he will open an NFL campaign unable to play due to league punishment. Hill was first suspended four games before the 2012 season for use of performance-enhancing drugs – he claims he tested positive for Adderall – and also missed the first four games of 2013 when he tested positive for marijuana and was suspended under the league’s substance-abuse policy. Undrafted after three seasons with the Florida Gators, the former five-star prospect did not play at all in 2011 and only got a chance with the Giants after supposedly staying clean of drugs and focusing on his familial duties during his year off. New York has “put a lot of time and energy into trying to keep Will Hill clean,” according to Tom Rock of Newsday. This suspension will likely end his career with the Giants.and could result in another missed season until if or when another team gives him a chance.

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15 Gator Bites for Tuesday, April 15

From time to time, OnlyGators.com will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons was involved in a card accident before his team’s game on Monday – don’t worry, he’s OK – when a woman ran a red light and hit his sports utility vehicle. What happened next? “She said she ran a red light and it was her fault,” Parsons told the Houston Chronicle. “She had a little car so it kind of messed up the front bumper of my car. She was OK. Asked me to sign her insurance card.” Parsons led Houston with 21 points in 40 minutes on Monday. He entered the game recovering from a hip injury he suffered last week.

» According to Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, the Philadelphia Eagles have a high level of interest in Gators outside linebacker Ronald Powell. Kempski notes that Philadelphia has a history of selecting high-upside players that were ranked among the top players in the country coming out of high school seeing as the Eagles used a seventh-round selection on running back Bryce Brown in 2012.

» The final USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll came out following the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and the individual ballots of all 32 coaches that voted were released as well. Five coaches – Tim Cluess (Iona), Matt Driscoll (North Florida), Tim Floyd (UTEP), Shaka Smart (VCU) and Don Verlin (Idaho) – voted Florida into the No. 2 spot over Kentucky, while four other coaches picked UF at No. 4 behind Wisconsin. One coach – Mike McConathy of Northwestern State – ranked the Gators fifth in the final poll.

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