‘Right guy for the job'

The idea was to eliminate a transition. Florida head coach Will Muschamp moved fast enough to avoid one. When former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was announced as the new defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday afternoon, Muschamp didn't drag his feet. In just over an hour, his decision to promote linebackers coach D.J. Durkin was official. It was a part of the plan.

The plan actually started when Will Muschamp took the job at Florida. It wasn't a conscious plan at that point, but Muschamp was immediately impressed with linebackers coach D.J. Durkin, who was the only defensive coach retained from the previous coaching staff.

It wasn't a mistake.

As the defensive staff spent time game planning during the last two seasons, Muschamp came to find that Durkin was more similar to his line of thought than expected.

"The guy's aggressive and does a great job of relating with our players," Muschamp said. "I think you saw a very relentless attitude with our special teams, and I think you'll see that carry over to our defense. That's kind of our trade anyway. As a coach, the players are a reflection of who you are. Our guys play a certain way on special teams, and we'll continue to do so on defense."

The move also pushes one of Florida's best recruiters into a more visible position during games. Muschamp downplayed any possibility that Durkin's recruiting role will change with the promotion and said that the hiring wasn't made to make sure Durkin didn't leave to take a promotion on another staff.

It's about the best fit. And as time went by during the first two seasons for this coaching staff, it became more and more obvious that Durkin would be that fit when Dan Quinn left. Durkin has no play calling experience in his career, but Muschamp was quick to point out that Quinn didn't either when he showed up in Gainesville.

Despite who runs the defense, Muschamp will always be involved as long as he is the head coach at Florida.

"It's Florida's defense," Muschamp said. "When you're in the meeting room and you're game planning, you have to be on the same page philosophically which (Durkin and Muschamp) are just like Dan and I were. That's why it's important from a stability and a continuity standpoint that you can promote within, if it's the best thing for you.

"Sometimes it's hard when you bring in somebody from the outside. They may have some great ideas, but it doesn't really fit philosophically with what you believe. As far as the adjustments in the game, we have a staff that does a really good job of adjusting through the game of what we need to do to be successful. We've proven that over the past year."

The departure of Quinn wasn't a surprise to Muschamp after how well the Florida defense played throughout the 2012 season. However, Muschamp did say that the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator position was the only one in the NFL that Quinn would have left to take.

Muschamp made the quick decision within three weeks of National Signing Day, but he maintains that it wasn't made to hold the recruiting class together. The move was made to bring Florida the best defensive coordinator possible.

"D.J.'s experience with our system and with our players, the stability and continuity we provide for our players — that decision is our best decision," Muschamp said. There's no question."

Muschamp first saw Durkin coach as he watched the team prepare for the Outback Bowl at the end of the 2010 season. He was a natural teacher, and his ability to communicate and relate with players stood out. Muschamp wanted some continuity on the defensive side of the coaching staff for returning players, and now that Quinn is gone, he's giving Durkin a promotion for a similar reason.

His familiarity with the program and the defense that Muschamp wants to run made him an easy choice.

"All the things I think it takes to be a successful play caller on offense or defense, he has," Muschamp said of Durkin. "Really excited to have him a part of our program. I think that's what's really helping us on the recruiting trail. People understand that defensively, we're not changing. Schematically, the terminology — it's not going to change.

"We don't have to wholesale change anything within our organization because you want to hire good enough coaches that you know can be coordinators and can be in that role when those situations happen."


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