Assessing Muschamp's Messages

Gator football coach Will Muschamp says he's not trying to deliver any messages with the decisions he's making in his new role. I believe him, but that doesn't make it true. Whether or not he intends to send messages, every significant decision does, indeed send one.

So let's look at some of his decisions and the "message" that each of them conveys.

Dismissing Janoris Jenkins ---- Muschamp's swift action in dismissing his best player sends a message to two key audiences. Gator Nation gets its first indication that this first-time head coach understands the big picture. A three-game suspension would have been viewed as adequate by most, but Muschamp realized more had to be done. It's not the severity of the offense; it's the lack of respect for his teammates and coaches that earned Jenkins a pink slip. The other audience of course is the Florida team. Players no know that law breaking will carry a potentially serious sanction. The fear of not getting to play is the number one deterrent college coaches have to offer. That he is willing to use that hammer on the best player on the team delivers a very important message.

The Gator Club Tour ---- Steve Spurrier cut back on the Gator Club tour over his 12 years in charge. Urban Meyer basically phased it out completely for 2010. Muschamp stepping in and embracing the tour is a huge plus and should help ticket sales and extend his "honeymoon" period. The message that fans matter is important. The Gator Club tour is not about big money boosters; it's about the rank and file fans. Urban Meyer had a disconnect with those people. Muschamp has wisely reconnected with the people who truly are the "Foundation of the Gator Nation."

Mike Blakely to Auburn ---- Many coaches --- too many in fact --- would not allow a kid to transfer within the conference let alone a team on the schedule. Muschamp delivered a great message to recruits that he understands that things don't always work out. He delivered a message that he values the interests of his players more than he fears losing some sort of strategic advantage. Muschamp didn't have to sit out after deciding he would rather be at Florida and Blakely should not have to sit out for making a similar type of decision. Muschamp can't grant that freedom, but letting a player transfer to any school is the way all coaches should handle these situations.

Closing Spring Practice --- This one he got wrong and his explanation was worse than the decision. Spring ball is supposed to be a low stress time and give fans and us media types an early glance at the upcoming team. There is no solid reason for closing practice this time of year. His "message" that it would take away from Florida's ability to surprise opponents this fall just doesn't make sense. Florida's opponents are already studying Charlie Weis' offenses from Kansas City, Notre Dame and even New England. They are studying Texas' defensive game video and the Seattle Seahawks as well. I don't think Nick Saban is interested in pouring over YouTube quality video from fans' telephone cameras. And if you are really concerned about that, ban cameras and evict violators.

So far the Gators' rookie mentor is pushing almost all the right buttons. And whether he intends for it or not each button he pushes delivers a message to at least one key constituency.


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