Jeremy Foley sees similarities in Florida Gators coaches Will Muschamp, Billy Donovan

By Adam Silverstein
August 1, 2014

Drawing similarities between a coach who led a team to its worst record since 1979 with another who won back-to-back national titles is a tall task, but Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley did just that in a radio interview on Thursday.

While once again expressing his complete confidence that head football coach Will Muschamp is the right man for the job, one who can turn the Gators back into a contender after leading the program to a 4-8 record in 2013, Foley explained in-depth to Buddy Martin of WOCA 1370 AM how he saw – and still sees – in Muschamp many of the characteristics that made head basketball coach Billy Donovan successful.

“I’m not saying Will and Billy are the same person, but [when I hired Muschamp] I saw the same energy, I saw the same passion, I saw the same enthusiasm, I saw the same track record in terms of he coached for some of the greats, certainly Nick Saban,” said Foley.

“He coached at the highest level. He won a national championship at LSU; he coached in a national championship game with the University of Texas. He was designated as the University of Texas’s next head coach. Obviously I know the folks at Texas, know the type of program they have. They’re not just doing that for some guy off the street.

“I sat down with Will. He had a plan. [I] liked the fact he recruited in the south before. Obviously this is all about recruiting. Just like Billy being at Kentucky, recruiting the Southeastern Conference, that’s important.

“I know obviously all the issues and all the challenges as it relates to the offense under Will since he’s been here, but I also think this is a league where you play good defense, you’re going to have a chance, and I think Will was one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. … When you add all that together, that’s what we saw. …

“If you were around Billy and Will, you would see some of the same characteristics – unbelievable intensity, unbelievable passion, organization skills, tremendous recruiters. You certainly hope all of that can translate into great success for our football program under Will.”

Foley has been asked numerous times how many games Muschamp needs to win in 2014 in order to keep his job, seeing as his first three years at Florida have been the worst for a single football coach since the 1980s. He once again refused to put an exact number out there, explaining that it would do no good in the long run.

“I’ve never told a coach in any sport, at any time, ‘You have to win X number of games, you have to go to the NCAA Tournament, you better be in the top two in the league.’ Never done that,” he said. “Around here, there’s enough pressure without me putting that type of pressure on our coaches.”

He did, however, lay out exactly what he will evaluate Muschamp on this season.

“We need to be better, and we need to be able to see that,” Foley explained. “You got to be able to sit back, take your orange and blue glasses off, and say, ‘You know something? That program is better, there is marked improvement and we’re on track.’ This season, as it plays out, will tell us that. … I’ve never told somebody, ‘You better win X number of games,’ and I’m not going to start doing that now. But we’ll all know whether we’re better, and we’ll all know whether we’re on track.”

Martin also questioned Foley about UF’s football scheduling and whether rumors of conversations with Texas about a home-and-home arrangement had any basis in reality.

“We are having no conversations with Texas about that at all,” he said, “but that’s why they call them rumors. I read that the other day. It’s just not true.”

In terms of scheduling tough out-of-conference – and potentially out-of-state – opponents for the Gators, Foley acknowledged the fan desire but stated that it is not as simple to schedule a marquee game as many may believe.

“Football scheduling is always going to be a challenge. It’s one of those things that I have a lot of conversations with our fans about, and I get it, at times they’re not enthralled with our home football scheduling. Scheduling can be difficult,” Foley began.

“First of all, we need seven home football games. We played only six last year, and we had to save for 4-5 years in a row to make up for the loss of the home gate when we played down in Miami. We’re going to play six home games in 2017 when we go to Dallas to play Michigan, but that’s a significant financial windfall for us.

“We work hard on scheduling. I think people just think all we do is just call smaller schools and see if they can come in here. We make a lot of inquiries about scheduling. The mid-majors have leverage. It’s not that they don’t want to come to Gainesville, it’s that they have other opportunities.

“You’re always working like heck to put a football schedule together; it is not easy. I get the desire of our fans to have a better, higher, more marquee opponent in our facility. Sometimes they’re hard to get. It’s not due to lack of effort, I promise you. We e-mail people, we call people, we talk to people. But we do need to play seven home games. We are committed to the eight-game conference schedule. We are committed to play Georgia in Jacksonville. So, our schedule is a little different than most. We’ll continue to work on it, and we’ll continue to try and enhance what we do for our fans.”


    • Gatoralum88 says:

      Ha! Good one! Foley’s comments often leave me speechless also. I can already imagine his comments come December: “The program is better! Double the win total from last year is a marked improvement!”. Unfortunately, I think we’ll be stuck with Muschamp for many more 8-5 seasons to come. The comparison is ridiculous.

  1. Jeff H says:

    So obviously the payday to play Mich in Dallas is huge, and if such is the case, why cannot we schedule as many of those games as possible while eliminating one of the lousy home patsy teams? As a season ticket holder, nothing worse than having to pay money for those tix you have no desire of using.

  2. Michael J. says:

    Why does Florida have to have seven home games? Let’s see, you play twelve games in a year. One of those games is at a neutral site, that leaves eleven games. If you play six home games and have five on the road. This is just an example of Florida being scared to go on the road to play anyone. I can understand why, they always lose an out of conference game when they play out of state. No, UF doesn’t have to have seven home games, that’s just an excuse for a program that has an A.D. that is scared to play a good team on the road. With this kind of scheduling, UF only plays four road games a year. Quite an advantage for UF, but the fan is the one who suffers. Would you rather go to Gainesville to watch the Gators play Idaho, Eastern Michigan, and Eastern Kentucky or similar teams every year or have only two out of conference turkeys and another quality opponent every other year? there’s no problem with getting a team to agree to a home and home. Foley could call Coral Gables and have everything finalized wihin a period of days. The problem is that UF tends to lose to Miami, Also UF would lose it’s cushy schedule of having only four road games and three patsies every year. Come on , Foley. The nonsense you are spewing reminds me of when in the movie, “The Godfather”, Michael’s brother in-law tries to lie to Michael about setting up Santino. I feel the same way, you insult my intelligence.
    As for all the other stuff about hiring Muschamp. He’d be better off talking to his psychiatrist, because he’s basically talking to himself. He knows he screwed up hiring Muschamp, he’s just trying to justify what he did so when the inevitable happens, Muschamp getting axed, he can hold himself blameless. Same as before, Mr. Foley, you insult my intelligence.

    • I was giving you the benefit of the doubt before – and I allow free commenting here – but if your sole reason for visiting this site is to antagonize other members, I will not allow it to continue.

      • Gatoralum88 says:

        As Dave Massey wrote last week, it’s best to just ignore Michael J Nole troll. He’s a petulant child. I could see his true colors a while back. To me, it’s laughable, pathetic, & sad that an FSU fan spends so much time on this site! Yet ANOTHER reason why UF is better because their fans just don’t have a site like this. Thank you Adam!

        FSU fans jealousy of UF dates back to its days as Florida State College for Women. Laughably, prior to that name it was known as Florida Female College & it took those geniuses 4 YEARS to realize it wasn’t proper English before changing it to FSCW. Need we mention FSU offers a class in being a clown? From an academic standpoint, it’s NO CONTEST!

        US News National University rank: UF – 49 FSU – 91
        Forbes: UF – 74 FSU – 202
        ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities): UF – 71 FSU – 153…& the list goes on.

        Unbiased rankings say it all! UF has ALWAYS been the flagship school in the state & ALWAYS will be. Just accept it Michael J Nole troll! Now, go off to your erector set stadium next to your trapeze & go play. Go Gators!

    • Timmy T says:

      You’re a clown. The 7 games are money, guy. They help pay for the rest of our sports, in fact they pay for them all. One game is about 5 million in profits. Yeah we have cupcakes a couple times a season as does EVERYONE, but still play one of the toughest schedules every year. STFU with your clown shit.

    • Michael Jones says:

      Coming from a conference nicknamed “FSU and the 11 dwarfs,” how can you possibly open your mouth about strength of schedule? Every team you play, home or away, except for the Gators, is an Eastern Michigan.

      You got lucky last year that the SEC was down and sent a subpar, 1 dimensional team to the BCS championship game and you STILL almost blew it. We’ll see how this year plays out. We’ll see if that conman QB of yours can continue to do a not-so-good job of hiding his true character while your coaching staff refuses to discipline him for things that would get any other player in any other program suspended.

      Come on over to a real football conference and take a real physical beating every week and see if you can get through the season without the rash of injuries that all SEC teams have to deal with.

      GO GATORS!!!

    • 30Gator says:

      How can Foley insult that which you do not have? Inteligence that is.
      You sound like one of the loser cane fans down in the 305 always complaining about the Gators not playing them.
      First of all Miami is not an elite team anymore and secondly we have had the bad luck to play them during our worst season in a long time. Even so, if not for the 5 turnovers we dominated that game and would have had 2 wins in a row. Don’t give me that B.S. about the Gators always lose to Miami or out of state teams. All the SEC teams we beat regularly are out of State and usually better than the Miamis and such.
      We already play one of the toughest schedules in the nation every year and you would have us make it tougher and be at a disadvantage. Fool.

    • Mark Davis says:

      Why does Florida play seven home games? Eh, because they can. That is – enough people actually buy tickets; a concept you may not be familiar with in Miami. Look at the estimated value (by Forbes) for Florida Football, then, perhaps, a light bulb will come on in your brain:

      Florida is Number 6 on the list (based on profits) after the worst year on the field in over 30 years and Miami is, well not even in the Top 25. So Foley knows what he is doing and you are clueless. The “Florida is afraid to play Miami” meme is as silly as it is tiresome. The envy just oozes from your post revealing a sad little troll. Go away before you embarrass yourself further.

  3. Ed says:

    I think Foley is the only person in the world that sees similarities between Donovan & Muschamp. Donovan is a proven winner and the jury is still out on Muschamp. The University of Florida should not be a football program with a head coach who is getting in the job training.

    Personally, I think Foley is doing everything he can to ptoect his ego from admitting another mistake in hiring a football coach.

    • Timmy T says:

      I agree that the HC job here shouldn’t be one that is for a first timer, but now that WM has been here 3 years I think it would be a mistake to let him take that experience elsewhere. I believe he has learned the hard way that one cannot be so rigid in their philosophy. I’m expecting an entirely different season than the one we all endured last year, and I think Foley is too. If not, Jeremy will make a change. On a side note, you should be damn glad he is the AD at our school.

  4. Ed says:

    Timmy, I am curious what experience you are referencing? After three seasons we are averaging 7 wins/year. As far as I am concerned he can take that experience with him.

  5. Michael J. says:

    Adam, I’m sorry you think an honest opinion is done to antagonize anyone. I’m just pointing out what I see ids the truth. Florida has not won an out of conference road game outside the state of Florida in decades. UF did drop Miami in the late 80’s with the one of the reasons being given that UF wanted to play a more “national” schedule.” The only one I recall was Syracuse, and UF lost to them when they traveled there. I also remember Oklahoma State, but I don’t know if UF went to Stillwater. I just think it’s not true that you have to have seven home games every year, with the added bonus of only having four road games. That type of scheduling tilts the field in UF’s favor, and UF should be good enough to not need to have only four road games a year.
    As for Foley. I’ll give you another movie reference, this one from “The Caine Mutiny.” If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do, Humphrey Bogart gives one of his finest performances. Foley’s diatribe was nearly the same as Captain Queeg. He brings up Billy Donovan when talking about Muschamp. It’s similar to when Queeg tells about how he solved a cheese theft, Foley is relating the triumph of his career to show with “geometric precision” why he can’t be wrong about hiring Muschamp. I just wonder if Foley had some ball bearings in his hand while doing so.
    Finally, what is this talk about FSU? I haven’t mentioned FSU. Since I haven’t, and others have, I wonder why? Just because I choose to make an assessment that is not all peaches and ice cream is not a reason to start being paranoid about FSU. Sure, they’re on top now, but all UF has to do to get back on top is get a good quarterback. For all of UF’s problems right now, a good quarterback would cure most of them.

    • It’s not your “honest opinion” but rather the continuous slant you seem to have is one that many think is someone trying to be antagonistic. I’m just going to pay closer attention, that’s all. I don’t try to censor anyone here.

    • Gatorgrad79 says:

      “Florida has not won an out of conference road game outside the state of Florida in several decades””?! What? 3 National Championships all against out of conference teams and only 1 was in Florida (in Miami) but only because the BCS scheduled it there. WTF are you talking about? If ACC teams had to get the living shit beat out of them every week as occurs in the SEC, they would have a beat up struggling conference champion instead of one who barely got their jerseys dirty all year. Give it up. The computers consistently rank SEC teams with the hardest schedules (unbiased) and UF is among them by virtue of playing the likes of Bama, LSU, A&M, Missouri, Georgia and S. Carolina. Look at how many SEC teams are in the top 20 pre-season (7) and how few ACC teams (2). Give it up….

      • Michael J. says:

        I’m talking about games that are on your schedule. Post season games are not part of your schedule. I’m talking about the lack of playing anyone out of state that is not in the SEC. The Gators should have a home and home with someone. I remember Southern Cal was scheduled a long time ago. There is not a valid reason for a similar match to be made now, except for Foley’s insistence on having seven home games, which ZI think is nonsense. Let me know how happy you are paying to see the likes of Idaho, Eastern Michigan, and Eastern Kentucky this year. I may not even have the last school right, but does it matter? It’s some directional school paid by UF to come and get stomped. That’s what Foley wants the gators to do every year with his insistence on seven home games. I don’t enjoy watching a game where one team is only there to get a paycheck and be happy to lose. An exception happened last year with Georgia Southern, but I doubt we’ll see that happen ever again. I don’t knoew about you, but I expect more than a glorified scrimmage when I enter the stadium.

        • 305Gator says:

          Problem with you is that you start with a flawed statement: ” Florida has not won an out of conference road game outside the state of Florida in decades.”
          One, why distinguish between conference and non conference?
          Two, why distinguish between in State and out of State?
          Three, why throw out the NCs and bowl victories?
          When you take the schedule as it is without your arbitrary qualifiers you find that UF consistently has a top 10 ranked SOS and there is no need to make it any tougher.
          It is those teams that play in soft crappy conferences, like the ACC, that need to schedule tough out of conference teams. That is because there are few top teams inside their conference.
          The “out of State” and “out of conference”and “not the postseason” are just excuses to try and make a point that has no validity. Get over it.

  6. Sam Andreu says:

    Does anybody else find it strange that we land a Leer Jet in South Carolina to pick up the Ole Ball Coach?

    Who gives the go ahead to do that? Steve Spurriur is our coach. He knows it. We know it. Hell, SC has a better chance of getting to Atlanta than we do.

    Maybe I am dreaming. Remember in 2001, when we had to play Tennessee at the end of the year (L)? That was right before he took off. There was his second NC TEAM had Earnest Graham not gotten assaulted by one of those Criminoles.

    I would love to see the guy back! The swagger of knowing we were gonna win 87% of the time. Get it together Willie M… Or go somewhere you can be appreciated.

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