“My family, Carol, Jackson, Whit, and I are excited about coming back to Auburn and I look forward to working with Coach Malzahn to win championships,” Muschamp said on Friday night after accepting a position to coach for the Tigers.
Bringing the high-profile coach on board, who is known for his aggressive and stingy defenses as well as being a strong recruiter, is a big-splash hire for the Tigers. For Muschamp it is a return to the university where he got his start in the coaching business as a graduate assistant during the 1995 and 1996 seasons.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn hired Muschamp to take over for Ellis Johnson, who he fired the day after the Tigers dropped a 55-44 decision to Alabama in the final 2014 regular season game.
“I’m excited to welcome Will back to Auburn as our new defensive coordinator,” Malzahn said. “Will is a one of the top defensive minds in college football who has great passion and energy for the game. He is a tremendous addition to our staff.”
Muschamp is very familiar with the SEC after working as head coach of the Florida Gators the past three years. He finished his time directing the UF football staff a week ago last Saturday after the Gators came close to pulling off an upset in Tallahassee vs. unbeaten Florida State.
A defensive back at the University of Georgia, he joined the team as a walk-on from Rome, Ga., where he was a star high school athlete at Darlington School. Muschamp finished his collegiate playing days as captain of the defense.
He worked his way up in the coaching ranks beginning at Auburn under the direction of Bill “Brother” Oliver, who gave Muschamp an unusual amount of responsibility for a young graduate assistant coach.
Muschamp is known for his fiery demeanor as a coach in addition to his skills put together aggressive defenses.
After earning a masters degree at Auburn, Muschamp became a defensive coordinator at Valdosta State in 2000 and returned to the SEC as a full-time assistant in the SEC in 2001 coaching linebackers. The following season he was promoted to defensive coordinator and handled that assignment until 2005 when he joined the Miami Dolphins as an assistant coach.
After one season with the NFL team he was hired by former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville to coordinate the defense and coach defensive backs. He handled that assignment for two seasons before moving to the University of Texas, where he coached linebackers and coordinated the defense from 2008-10 before taking the job as head coach at Florida.
Muschamp, who is 43 years old, was fired during the 2014 season, but allowed to coach through the regular season finale vs. FSU. In his three seasons at Gainesville the Gators were one of the SEC’s stronger teams on defense, but a weak offense led to Muschamp being dismissed. He left his post with a 28-21 record with the Gators.
In his five seasons as an SEC defensive coordinator Muschamp’s his teams ranked among the nation’s Top 10 in total defense each year and were also in the Top 15 in scoring defense in each of those years.
In four of his eight seasons overall as a defensive coordinator at the major college level his teams allowed less than 100 rushing yards per game and twice led the nation in rushing defense. His 2003 LSU defense led the country by allowing 67 yards per game on the ground, the best mark by an SEC team in the 2000s, while Texas the Longhorns gave up just 73.1 yards on the ground in 2009 to pace the nation.
From 2008-10 the Texas defense ranked No. 1 in the nation during those three seasons with 119 quarterback sacks. His defenses ranked in the Top 10 nationally during the same time frame in allowing 2.9 yards per rushing attempt (third), 96.7 rushing yards per game (fourth) and 297.4 yards per game (seventh) to lead the Big 12 Conference in each of those seasons.
In 2009 the Longhorns played in the BCS National Championship Game as Muschamp’s defense gave up just 73.1 rushing yards per game, the best figure by any BCS school from 2008-10. The Longhorns also led the nation in 2009 in third-down defense (26.5 percent), turnovers created (37, tied with Ohio) and interceptions (25) as Texas claimed the Big 12 title.
Will Muschamp will be able to coach the Tigers as bowl practices begin on Monday.
Under Muschamp’s at Texas, Brian Orakpo won the 2008 Rotary Lombardi Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Ted Hendricks Award. In the 2009 and 2010 NFL Drafts the Longhorns had a combined eight defensive players drafted, including seven in the first four rounds and two first-rounders in Orakpo and Earl Thomas.
Muschamp’s first full-time coaching job in the SEC came at LSU as the linebackers coach for one season before being elevated to defensive coordinator from 2002-04. His 2003 defense helped the Tigers to the national championship by leading the nation in scoring defense (11.0 points per game) and total defense (252.0 yards per game) while finishing second nationally in pass efficiency defense (89.8) and third in rushing defense (67.0 yards per game).