The relationships the previous staff had built with recruits can sometimes help schools even after the previous coach is gone. For Florida, it turned into a nightmare. After Will Muschamp was fired, he ended up becoming the defensive coordinator at Auburn and used his relationships with recruits to attempt to bring them to Auburn.
All while the Gators continue to be on the hook for his $6.3 million buyout.
The damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been for Florida. The Gators still held onto five-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey and five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson, both heavily recruited by Muschamp and the Auburn staff.
But the misses were there, too. Muschamp and former Florida defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson pulled five-star defensive end Byron Cowart and four-star receiver Ryan Davis to Auburn. They also took four-star cornerback Javaris Davis, three-star Carlton Davis and four-star safety Tim Irvin. On Wednesday morning, they also flipped Florida offensive line commitment Mike Horton.
“Obviously the guy’s a great ball coach and he had obviously some insights that I’m sure they were able to use,” Jim McElwain said about Muschamp and Auburn. “But it’s never about anybody else. It’s about what we have and who we are, and we’re very secure in that and know we’re going to move forward and be successful in what we’re trying to accomplish. That’s part of the game. I never really thought about it to be honest.”
Negative recruiting always plays a part in recruiting classes, but McElwain said they stay out of it while talking to prospects. The Florida staff focused on selling the positives of the program, and even with the previous head coach in the same conference, they still were able to find two five-star prospects that wanted to be Gators.
"There's so much positive here, I don't know why you ever have to go in and bad mouth something,” McElwain said. “That's just not how I was brought up. We've got a lot of positives to sell here. That's what we do."