Updated on Monday at 6:15 p.m.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy, who was expected to be a redshirt senior competing for a starting job with the Florida Gators in 2014, chose on Sunday to leave the program and pursue other options, a decision that reportedly shocked head coach Will Muschamp.
Muschamp, who denied to The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley this week that Murphy was planning to leave the Gators after saying he had already spoken with the player and his family, told him on Sunday that Murphy did not attend the team’s annual postseason banquet and suddenly became aloof over the weekend.
He called Murphy, who didn’t answer but eventually responded with a long text message saying he felt he needed to go somewhere where he’d get a chance to start, Muschamp said.
“I told him it would be an open competition, just like I told him Jeff Driskel would be our starter last year,” Muschamp said.
Murphy completed the requirements for his bachelor’s degree in the fall and graduated on Saturday. He can transfer to another program and be eligible to play immediately without being forced to sit out a full season.
But he tells a different version of the story to GatorCountry.com, stating that he did originally tell Muschamp earlier in the week that he had not decided to transfer but also made the coaching staff aware that he would be unable to attend the banquet as he was taking his parents to the airport at that time.
Once he and his family decided his fate during that car ride, he tried to arrange a face-to-face meeting with Muschamp on Sunday. Instead, he was told to call Muschamp. The coach did not pick up, so Murphy sent the aforementioned text message and waited for a return call, which he received immediately.
“He wasn’t happy with [the decision to leave]. He told me he didn’t think it was a good decision for me. We kind of just went back and forth a little bit, talking about the whole situation and stuff for next year. When he kind of felt where I was leaning towards he said he appreciated everything I’ve done and stuff like that. When we hung up I thought everything was good.”
Murphy said he never intended to break the news to Muschamp via text message.
“I never tried to tell him what was going on through text,” he said. “I sent him a text kind of just so when he saw the missed call he knew what I was calling about and I could get his attention so hopefully he would call me back when he was free.”
“I was never trying to duck on him or not do it in a mature way,” Murphy said. “It just so happened that he had to hear it from me through text because he didn’t pick up my call and I couldn’t meet with him in his office.”
Criticism began to rain down on both parties Monday with some upset about the way Murphy reportedly left and others infuriated that Muschamp would allegedly paint the player in a bad light, especially one who had been a model member of the program.
The quarterback’s father, Peter Murphy, fell in the later category and discussed his concerns later Monday with Phillip Heilman of the Palm Beach Post ($).