The hot seat was difficult enough to deal with throughout the season. Muschamp went right at it and addressed it during the offseason, opening his press conference at SEC Media Days by admitting he was on the hot seat. He knew about it and knew how much extra pressure would be on him this season.
It clearly wasn’t working, and the change was made on Sunday morning when athletic director Jeremy Foley and Muschamp spoke. The emotional conversation between the two hasn’t changed the way Muschamp will look back at his time in Gainesville.
“I will always be a Gator,” Will Muschamp said, “unless I'm on the other sideline. I always will want these guys to be successful, and I always will be there for them. There is no question about that. You spend as much time with these guys as you do your own kids. I look at these young men as my own.”
And that’s why the players love him.
Muschamp came to Gainesville with a reputation for being a player’s coach, and it didn’t take long to realize that was the truth. He took over a team without many players he recruited. They all gravitated to him, seeing how much he truly cared about their well being. Players referred to him as a father figure multiple times during his tenure as head coach.
On Sunday, he stood in front of those players and addressed his future away from the Florida program. Players said the meeting was only 15-20 minutes and mostly quiet except for Foley and Muschamp’s words. More than anything, there was disappointment from the players.
Muschamp used it, again, as an opportunity to teach his players.
“You can work really hard and you can be diligent in what you do, but you've got to have results in life, whether you're in the business world or in the coaching profession. It doesn't matter, you have to produce,” Muschamp said of his message to the players. “Learn the lesson -- you’ve got to produce in life. If you're a salesman, you’ve got to that sell. If you're a football coach, you gotta win.”
The players were a big reason Muschamp wanted to stick around and coach the final two games. He’ll coach them on Saturday against Eastern Kentucky on senior day, the final time Muschamp’s first class of four-year players will play at The Swamp.
Then there’s the chance to face No. 3 Florida State in Tallahassee at the end of the season. Florida fans will think back to Ron Zook’s final game, beating the Seminoles in Tallahassee. Zook didn’t face a Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback that night, but the Florida players will have a chance to rally around their coach for one final game in Tallahassee.
Preparation for those games will be no different than games over the last four years. Muschamp said that if a player jump offside, they’ll get the same Muschamp rant they would have received weeks ago.
“You ain't going to see anything different,” Muschamp said. “We're going to coach these guys hard. They deserve that, the University of Florida deserves that. I'm totally invested for two weeks to be the coach at Florida and that's what we're trying to do.”Business as usual for two more weeks.