The Florida head coach, manning that title for two more games this season, took the podium on Monday and insisted there won’t be much changing in the program for the next two weeks. He was calm, cracking jokes about himself for being underdressed after president Bernie Machen and athletic director Jeremy Foley took to the podium in suits.
That’s how he spent his press conferences during the four-year tenure. His self-deprecating self of humor made him easy to like, and his love for his players endeared him to those around the program. That never changed in four years.
After talking about the changes that took place on Sunday that even he understood, Muschamp went into his weekly press conference preamble -- he started talking about Eastern Kentucky.
It’s senior day for his first recruiting class, the four-year players that took a gamble and wanted to sign with Muschamp’s team in February 2011, only two months after he took the job.
The goodbye press conference was an emotional one for the people that have spent the last four seasons around Muschamp. He took over a mess of a locker room, and athletic director Jeremy Foley and president Bernie Machen both thanked him on Monday for cleaning that up. Muschamp agreed.
“I know this locker room is better than it was four years ago,” Muschamp said. “There’s no question about that and where they come.”
But in the end, it came down to the record.
His 27-20 record wasn’t enough to save his job, and at a place like Florida, it shouldn’t be. Even Muschamp knew that to be the case.
“We didn’t win enough football games,” Will Muschamp said. “That’s the bottom line. We didn’t get that done. I’m very disappointed, frustrated that it didn’t happen. We had our opportunities, especially this year, keeping a healthy roster and having our opportunity to win some football games. We didn’t get it done. Saturday was a great example of that.”
For the most part, the Florida fan base wanted this to work. The thought of a kid who grew up in Gainesville, cheering for the Gators and one day turning into the coach was a fairy tale. That’s all it ended as though.
He was honest about his failures on Monday. The offense wasn’t good enough. Florida’s ranked outside of the top eight in total defense just once -- this season, where it is 20th -- in his four years at the helm. The offensive production left too much to be desired and kept the program from reaching its potential under Muschamp.
Question after question tried to get Muschamp to address things he would have done differently, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. He didn’t give a straight answer to it, but he knows well that’s where his teams’ failures occurred.
“You come off a 4-8 year, regardless of the circumstances of last year, and you’re going into this year with a little margin of error and there’s a bull’s eye on you,” Muschamp said. “Everything is magnified.”
A new coach will be hired by the end of December and take the reigns of the Florida program. But Muschamp doesn’t think there should be any built-in excuses for the next guy. He’s proud of the way his staff has recruited in recent years and built the roster.
“Got a good football team coming back,” Muschamp said, noting that multiple juniors have decisions to make. “Don’t let that new guy tell you he ain’t got no players. We’ve got some good football players in that locker room. I feel like we’ve headed it in the right direction.”
But now, it’s up to someone else to lead it there.