GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Eight days before his Florida Gators open the 2013 season against Toledo, Will Muschamp got a question Friday about the 2014 season.
For many a coach (any sport, any level), inquiring about the difficulty of a schedule that begins in more than 12 months would prompt the automatic one-game-at-a-time response (the one-season-at-a-time version, of course).
In fact, that’s where Muschamp went initially.
“I’m worried about this season and Toledo,” he said.
That’s what we expected.
But two days after the Southeastern Conference announced UF’s 2014 schedule would feature a trip to Alabama -- in addition, of course, to those annual bloodbaths with Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Florida State -- Muschamp didn’t stick to the coachspeak playbook.
Maybe being year removed from playing the No. 1 toughest schedule in the nation (the Gators beat four teams that finished in the final Associated Press Top 10 last season, including two on the road), and a week from diving into what noted college football analyst Phil Steele wrote that Florida, again, has deemed the hardest schedule for 2013, Muschamp just had to say his piece.
“That’s kind of old hat,” Muschamp said. “At the University of Florida we embrace whoever we play and whatever happens. A season ago we were asked to go to College Station -- and we embraced it -- and welcomed the [A&M] Aggies to SEC. We’re asked to kick off at noon on Aug. 31 [or] Sept. 1 every year. We embrace it. We’ve been asked to play a cross-division opponent in LSU. We don’t gripe about it. We embrace it. We embrace things at Florida.”
“They want to see the Gators play. They want to see Florida and Alabama play,” Muschamp continued. “I know that’s not the company line, but that’s the bottom line. We look forward to it.”
When someone suggested the Green Bay Packers were due up on the schedule soon, he smiled some more.
“There’s a rumor going around they’re going to ask us to play nine conference games next season -- and the rest of the league play eight,” Muschamp deadpanned. "If they do, we’ll embrace it. What a wonderful opportunity.”
He was kidding.
About the nine versus eight games.
Not the embrace part.