Muschamp stepping down

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley didn’t wait long following the team’s 23-20 loss to South Carolina.

Florida football coach Will Muschamp has been fired after Saturday’s loss to the Gamecocks dropped the Gators to 5-4 this year and eliminated hopes of an SEC East title, according to a report from Sports Illustrated.

ESPN was the first to report that Muschamp will stay on and coach Florida’s final two games of the season.

“Upon evaluation of our football program, we are not where the program needs to be and should be. I've always said that our goal at the University of Florida is to compete for championships on a regular basis,” Foley said. “Coach Muschamp was dedicated to developing young men both on and off the field. Our student-athletes showed tremendous growth socially and academically under his leadership. His players were involved in campus activities, engaged with the local community and represented the University of Florida with pride.

“I will be forever grateful to Will and his staff for their unwavering commitment to the University of Florida and the mission of our athletic program. He will be missed by everyone in our athletic department – from the people that worked in his office to the people that painted the fields. Will knew everyone and they knew him and everyone in the building loved working with him. Will is as fine a man as you will ever meet, and I will always cherish our relationship with him and his family.”

In his four seasons as the Florida head coach, Muschamp compiled a 27-20 record, including a 17-15 record in Southeastern Conference play. Of those 17 conference wins, 11 of them came against Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

The Gators have lost 11 of their last 16 games and six of their last eight home games. The two home wins came against Eastern Michigan and Kentucky, which took three overtimes.

“I appreciate the opportunity that has been offered to me and my family by Dr. Machen, Jeremy Foley and the University of Florida,” said Muschamp. “I was given every opportunity to get it done here and I simply didn’t win enough games – that is the bottom line. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get it done and it is my responsibility to get it done.

“I have no bitter feelings, but this is a business and I wish we would have produced better results on the field. We have a great group of players and a staff that is committed to this University and this football program. They have handled themselves with class and I expect them to continue to do so. As I’ve said many times, life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond.”

In rivalry games against Florida State, Georgia and Tennessee, Muschamp went 6-5 with four of those wins coming over Tennessee. His 2-5 record against the Bulldogs and Seminoles was another strike against his time in Gainesville.

The heat on Muschamp started to build as the losses piled up last season. The Gators closed the season on a seven-game losing streak and missed a bowl game because of their play for the first time since 1986. It was also the program’s first losing season since 1979.

When Vanderbilt snapped a 22-game losing streak to Florida last season, the pressure on Muschamp continued to increase. Foley issued a statement after that game, saying he remained “a thousand percent convinced” that Muschamp was the coach to lead the Florida program. He stood by that statement following losses to South Carolina, Georgia Southern and Florida State to end the season.

Injuries played a major role in the 4-8 record last season. Gators lost their starting quarterback and top running back to injuries last season. Three offensive tackles went down, causing players to play out of position on the line. The defense lost its leader when Dominique Easley tore his ACL in practice, and the unit suffered multiple smaller injuries throughout the year.

Foley chose to believe the injuries were what kept Florida from being close to the success it experienced during the 2012 season. That year, Muschamp was named co-SEC Coach of the Year and the Gators finished the regular season 11-1 before suffering a blowout loss to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.

Fightin Gators Top Stories