Muschamp coaching discipline

Gators stay out of jail this summer


Will Muschamp begins his second season as UF football coach.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, August 31, 2012 at 10:47 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 31, 2012 at 10:47 a.m.

When Florida kicks off its 2012 season Saturday against Bowling Green, it will mark the end of a summer that yielded many positive results.

On the field UF players and coaches said the team got faster, stronger and tougher during the offseason and in training camp. Gator Nation will get to judge that this weekend.

However, one thing that can already be determined is the improvement UF has made off the field.

The Gators went all summer without having a player booked into the Alachua County Jail, which has been a rare thing for Florida in the past decade.

UF coach Will Muschamp has been able turn the tide in his short time in Gainesville.

Muschamp said on his radio show Thursday night he has a lot of supplemental groups that mentor players with character development. He also has the assistance of former Gator running back Terry Jackson, who is the Director of Player and Community Relations for the football program.

“At the end of the day, college kids are going to be college kids and unfortunately they are going to make some poor decisions and choices,” Muschamp said. “That does not make them bad kids. But it's our job to educate them and we do that. We have the funds to be able to bring people in and help develop them off the field. We have Terry Jackson who is on staff and totally in charge of life skills for our players. He's with our players constantly.”

Muschamp said it's a constant education with young people to put them on the straight and narrow, and his staff does much more than just work the sidelines on Saturdays.

“Everybody wants to look at Saturday afternoon and see the results there, which is very important. I'm not trying to demean that at all. But there's still Sunday through Friday and you got to manage these young people,” Muschamp said.

“A lot of them, unfortunately, don't have a father figure in their life so you wear a lot of hats as a football coach, as an academic advisor, as a friend, as a mentor and as somebody who gives them advice. It's not just me. It takes a village to do it and we have a great support group here at the University of Florida. Our staff is outstanding and we understand it goes a lot further than Saturday afternoon.”

Florida hasn't had a player arrested since Feb. 15, when tight end A.C. Leonard was charged with simple domestic battery on his girlfriend. Leonard transferred July 18 after he failed or was not willing to meet the criteria Muschamp set for him to rejoin the football team.

Muschamp had said change is inevitable, growth is optional. And the key to keeping his team out of trouble goes back to recruiting.

“Let's recruit the right kind of guys,” Muschamp said. “Are some of them going to make mistakes? Certainly they are. But it's our job to help them through those mistakes. The ones that aren't willing to change, you need to get rid of those guys. You don't want them in your program.

“Kids haven't changed, society has changed. There's a lot more distractions out there. So kids really haven't changed in my opinion and most of them want discipline. We have a good structure, we have a good support system and I'm very pleased with the direction our program is headed. And I think in my time at Florida, it speaks for itself.”

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