Muschamp ‘working through the nights’ on culture at UF

Will Muschamp, the new University of Florida head football coach, waves to the crowd during a basketball game he attended in January in the O’Connell Center on the UF campus.

Matt Stamey/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 9:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 9:03 p.m.

The schedule remains hectic, the work ethic tested daily.

The hotel room where he lives is used only for showers and sleeping.

Will Muschamp won't close on his new Gainesville digs until April, and his family is staying in Austin, Texas, which is just as well.

"We're working through the nights," said Muschamp, a bundle of energy wrapped around a keg of adrenaline surrounded by a blanket of enthusiasm.

He loves his job. For the most part, it is what he expected. Someone has already suggested a play for him to run. He's had people recognize him, but he doesn't recognize them. That comes with being the head football coach at Florida.

Everything is positive when you are around Muschamp.

He received some great advice from the guy who used to be in the big office at the stadium. Don't worry about the insignificant things, no matter how important someone else might think they are.

He hasn't given much thought to running out of that tunnel for the first time or standing on the sidelines as a head coach. Too much to do.

"So many things to work through," he said. "We've got so much on our plate. I have a little tunnel vision right now."

But he can see all the way back to Austin, where his son had to have a family friend stand in at school during "Donuts for Dads Day."

"The only negative thing is the time I have to spend away from my family," he said.

Everything else is Type-A optimism. Mornings are spent coming up with schemes and evaluating players. Afternoons are spent working on recruiting. Nights are when everything is wrapped up. There is a plan in place, one Muschamp took from everyone he's ever worked for during his career.

Now, people are working for him. He had a list when he was at Texas of assistants he wanted to hire. The staff is in place and looking through the windshield. Full steam ahead.

Here we go.

"It's all new, so everyone is excited," Muschamp said of his players. "You're not facing the speed bumps that will come. But I'm really excited about what I see. There wasn't a lot broken here. Urban (Meyer) did a phenomenal job. Now it's a matter of creating our own culture."

That doesn't mean that the old culture will be thrown out with the bath water. The new Florida staff will have a different way of doing things, but a lot of the things that Meyer brought to UF will remain.

The Gator Walk. Bringing back former players to talk to the team. Singing the fight song and alma mater after wins.

"I have to work on that," he said with a smile.

Muschamp also said he plans to reach out to the Gator Nation. In the months that have followed his hiring, Muschamp's tunnel vision hasn't included many interviews or speeches. That will change. He could be coming to a Gator Club near you.

Of course, his athletic director will determine just how many engagements Muschamp does.

"I'm going to do as many as I can," he said. "I think it's important to get out and meet the people who fill the stadium every Saturday."

They will like him. Muschamp is as personable as they get. He's won every news conference.

But nothing will get in the way of being a football coach.

This is a man consumed with the game, not just the basics but the specifics.

"As a leader or in a leadership role, you have to be yourself," he said. "I'm not a CEO. That's not my M.O. I'm going to be involved with the players. I've always envisioned myself in that (head coaching) chair, but when you get in it, it's different. Still, I enjoy scheming. I like drawing up Xs and Os. As a head coach, you can get pulled away from that job. That's not going to happen."

There is no doubt that confidence followed Muschamp back to Gainesville. Only a confident person could hire a high-profile former head coach like Charlie Weis to coach his offense.

Only a guy with strong beliefs in what he is doing would walk into the storm that comes with coaching the mighty Gators.

Every time I talk to Muschamp, I see all the things Jeremy Foley saw in him. It's not enough to have a plan, to have a pedigree, to have a thick resume.

You have to have that look in your eye, that moxie to believe your way is the right way.

The Gator Way.

For a Gainesville guy, "this," he said, "is coming home."

Pat Dooley is a Gainesville Sun columnist. You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9 FM and follow him at

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