”It didn’t take long,” Malzahn said of his targeting of Muschamp. “After I decided to make a change, my goal was to go out there and get the best defensive coordinator in the country. Also, I wanted a class guy, a true professional. Will fit all of that. He was the first guy that I contacted. He’s the guy I wanted and we are blessed to have him here at Auburn.”
Despite reports that he was headed to South Carolina and had been targeted by both Houston and Pittsburgh, Muschamp said this was the only spot for him when the dust settled. Taking time off in the Dominican Republic with his family to relax, he said the communication with Malzahn was constant and made Auburn the right fit.
“This was the only job I was offered,” Muschamp said. “I’ve got a lot of friends in the coaching profession, and when you get a phone call or when you talk to someone, you guys like to run with it that all of a sudden we took a job or we turned down a job or whatever. At the end of the day, this was the only job that I was offered, and I was honored to have the opportunity.”
As Florida’s head coach the last four seasons, Muschamp helped the Gators to a Top 10 finish in total defense each of those years. Someone who loves to coach the game and teach players defense, he said the vacation time was nice for him, but he’s ready to get back to work.
“I’m just a ball coach,” Muschamp said. “At the end of the day, that’s what I enjoy doing, and I’m very thankful to have a great family that understands that. We’re looking forward to the next step.”
The next step is to evaluate for the Tigers with Charlie Harbison taking on the role of interim defensive coordinator for the Outback Bowl game against Wisconsin. That will allow Muschamp the opportunity to watch practices and get a feel for the players on the team coming back next season. With so little time to prepare a plan for the Badgers and impossible to change defenses in a week, Malzahn said the biggest thing right now is for him to get familiarized with the players and get on the recruiting trail.
“I’m not a real patient guy, but I felt like I needed to be in this setting and give him a chance to take his family and go off and all that,” Malzahn said. “I think the timing now is really good. Before the bowl, it’s going to be a great opportunity to see our players and evaluate those guys and then be ready to hit the road recruiting.”