Will Muschamp has paid his dues.
His first full-time coaching job was as secondary coach at West Georgia in 1998.
“It was for about $17,000 (a year),’’ Muschamp said. “I lined the fields and washed the pants there after practice.’’
After a season at West Georgia, Muschamp spent a year each at Eastern Kentucky and Valdosta State, finally getting his break into the big time when former LSU coach Nick Saban hired him to be linebackers coach in 2001.
As he worked his way up the coaching ladder over the years, the 39-year-old Muschamp earned a reputation as a relentless recruiter and very intense defensive coordinator on the sidelines.
Now, as Florida’s new head coach, Muschamp has the added responsibilities of being the face of the one of the nation’s elite programs, putting his stamp on the team, connecting with a massive fan base, and finding time for his family.
Muschamp’s predecessor, Urban Meyer, knows first-hand how difficult it can be to maintain a proper balance between career and family with so many demands on your time.
As he prepares to lead his own program, the health concerns of coaches like Meyer and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio have not been lost on Muschamp.
Still, Muschamp’s super-charged approach to his job is what got him here, and he doesn’t plan to change now.
“You push yourself to the limit,’’ he said. “I think (when) you end every season, you’re burning the candle at the bottom. It’s something that you’ve got to work in balance with your family. It’s something you’ve got to work in balance with your health. You’ve got to make sure you look at all those things.’’
Muschamp is a year younger than Meyer when Meyer took over the Gators, and the same age as former Gators assistant Bob Stoops when Stoops left to become head coach at Oklahoma. In other words, Muschamp is entering his prime in the coaching profession.
He has waited for his chance to be the big man on campus since Texas named him head coach-in-waiting in 2008, so if you happen to walk by The Swamp once Muschamp gets settled into his new office, expect to see his car parked outside most of the time when he’s not on the road recruiting.
The hours may be long, but Muschamp likes it that way.
“I’ve tried to do better over the years, but it is tough,’’ he said. “Some guys are able to go home at 7 o’clock and I’m just not. I’m not wired that way. I’m not smart enough.
“I’ve got to work longer than other people do and prepare longer than other people do, and that’s the way I’m wired. I’m not saying it’s right for everybody, I’m just saying that’s the way I do things.’’