Muschamp Will Emphasize Off-Field Achievement

Will Muschamp learned a lot of things in the NFL. He learned about the prototype player he wants to recruit in college, as well as different defensive formations. However, the most important thing he learned came off the field, sitting one day in his office.

A 24-year-old player came into his office with tears streaming down his face. It didn't take Muschamp long to figure out that the Dolphins just cut the player because he had a bad knee.

He had nothing to fall back on.

The player was married with two kids and had no degree to fall back on. Muschamp encouraged him to go back to school and finish his degree, but the school didn't pay for their students to come back and try to finish their degrees.

Since then, Muschamp has learned all the statistics. He spouted them off Tuesday night at his introductory press conference, how less than four percent of athletes who play college football at any level stay in the NFL for more than four years. He said, with Florida players in the back corner of the room, that for more than 96 percent of college football players, the money from the game is gone at 26 years old.

"I'm going to emphasize it-- if our kids don't want to get their degree, they don't need to be here," Muschamp said. "If they're not going to go to class and act the right way, they don't need to be here. There's a certain thing that I'm going to refer to as the Florida way, and that's the way they need to act and that's the way they need to represent our University. I'm going to demand that and I think that you'll understand in time that that's something that's very important to me."

It doesn't stop at graduation, though. Muschamp's plan is to tailor an offense and defense around ones he used and saw in the NFL, to prepare his players for that level as well as possible. For those who want to pursue a playing career in the NFL, that opportunity will be there.

For those that don't, Muschamp wants them to be helped along the path to finding a career.

"Once our young men graduate, once they finish playing, we need the Gator Nation to come together and help them launch their careers," Muschamp said. "We need to make sure that we help these young men that came to Florida, graduated, did it the right way, finished their playing days, and we helped them launch their careers."

The Gators have been one of the most successful football programs in the country since 2005, but they haven't come out so well off the field. There have been 30 players arrested in that time period, something Muschamp wants to change. He wants to implement training off the field for leadership and mental toughness.

"It's all about making good choices and decisions nowadays," Muschamp said. "There's a lot of distractions out there. There's a lot of things that can go wrong when you make a poor choice and decision. I want to do great job of conditioning our players to make good choices and decisions. And again, I think that's something that we can supplement our plan with here at Florida along with our football, along with our academic, along with our social, along with our spiritual to make sure that our players are exposed to those types of things."

Muschamp wants his players to maintain an open relationship with him.

"Our program is going to be based in a family atmosphere with three basic things; trust, respect and communication," Muschamp said. "Those are all two-way streets. It takes two to do it. You're going to earn my trust, you're going earn my respect, and we've got to be able to communicate. Any good organization, any good marriage, any good relationship has great communication, and that's paramount in my opinion."


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