Muschamp won’t deflect hot seat talk

HOOVER, Ala. -- It took 44 seconds for Will Muschamp to say the words. He took the podium in the main media room at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham on Monday afternoon in front of over 1,000 credentialed media, knowing the questions about last season were coming. He wanted to beat everyone to the punch.

“Hot seat.”

It came at the 44-second mark and didn’t sound like something he wanted to mention just to avoid it in the future. Will Muschamp knows the reality. The questions will follow him through this season, regardless of how the 2014 season goes.

If the Gators get off to a hot start and pull off some upsets in the middle of the year, the “hot seat” phrase will disappear. But if the opposite happens and the Gators get off to a slow start, the hot seat could turn into one engulfed by flames.

Regardless of which way the 2014 season goes, Muschamp knows the talk is coming.

“Start practice on August 4th, 20 days from now after a very disappointing, frustrating season last year at the University of Florida,” Muschamp said. “(It) falls on my shoulders. Going through it, very difficult year for us, certainly not our expectation.

“There will be a lot of chatter about hot seat business. That's part of it. The way you combat that is having a winning football team and winning football games, which is what we're going to do.”

He heard plenty of it last year, too. The Gators stumbled to a 4-8 record, ending the year on a seven-game losing streak. Some people wanted him gone at the end of last season when Florida failed to make a bowl game and missed a chance at that by two games.

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley was not one of them. He chose to believe that 2013 was the fluke and that 2012, which ended with one regular season loss and a Sugar Bowl appearance, was the truth of the kind of coach Will Muschamp can be.

“It's the great thing about having an athletic director like Jeremy Foley that has a strong pulse on not only our program, but every program in the athletic department,” Muschamp said. “At the end of the day he understood circumstances we dealt with looking forward to getting them amended this year.”

But the leeway Muschamp received last year can’t afford to be extended if similar results occur this year. The Gators need to show progress. Even more than that, they need to produce wins. That’s the biggest factor that the 2014 season will be judged by.

Injuries undoubtedly played a factor in the 2013 outcome, but that won’t be an acceptable excuse again. It has to show up on the scoreboard that the program is headed the right way.

And Muschamp has complete confident that it will happen.

“Control the controllable is always what I've said,” Muschamp said. “Control the things you can control. “I haven't always practiced it, but try and just control the things I can control. That's coaching our football team, developing our football team. There was never any time in my mind that I didn't think I would be retained.”

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