Will Muschamp took over at Florida in an unenviable position.
Not only was he following Urban Meyer, a coach who had won two national championships and recruited one of the best players in school history in Tim Tebow, but Muschamp also inherited a team that was broken. In Meyer's final season, the Gators were an underachieving 8-5 and quarterback John Brantley didn't live up to his billing. Similarly, Muschamp's Gator team seemed to follow suit. He lost 12 players in the coaching transition and played with just 66 scholarship players at one point in the fall.
Muschamp's saving grace was beating Ohio State 24-17 in the Gator Bowl to ensure the Gators' 24th consecutive winning season.
Muschamp sat down with Matt Hayes of the Sporting News and gave some pretty candid answers regarding his first season. Hayes asked Mushcamp whether he thought the season was disastrous and Muschamp couldn't agree more.
"Disappointing, disastrous, whatever adjective you want to throw on it," Muschamp told the website. "There are Gator fans that could probably think of some worse ones. People want to look at our year and say you were 7-6? Really, let's look at the last two years: we're a 15-11 team. Let's be realistic here. Urban Meyer is a heckuva football coach; he won two national championships here. But there was a one-game difference from this year to (his) last year. We're in transition. Are we headed in the right direction? I emphatically think we are."
Muschamp also said a lot could be learned about his team from the NFL draft in April. The Gators only had two players invited to the NFL combine. Muschamp said part of that was attributed to the fact that his team played "soft" last year, something he said was hard to admit.
"It's the hardest thing I've ever said," Muschamp said. "But you go back and look at it, and we didn't consistently stop the run and we weren't able to run the ball. You can attribute it to multiple factors. We've tried to address that with our strength program, recruiting and overall numbers at multiple positions."
But things are looking up for Muschamp, who signed a top 5 recruiting class this year and a new offensive coordinator in Brent Pease, who came from Boise State. Muschamp said while he wants to continue running the ball because he thinks it makes his team tough, he said he's more open to a spread style similar to the one employed at Boise State. And Muschamp said he's not afraid to play both Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett if that gives the Gators the best chance for success.
"At the end of the day, patience is a bad word," Muschamp said. "I don't use the word patience; I use the word realistic. Sometimes you have to be realistic to figure some things out."
- Will Muschamp
- Urban Meyer