Tuesday December 14, 2010Florida Introduces Will Muschamp As Head Football Coach
DR BERNARD MACHEN: Good evening, everybody. We're delighted that you could be here on the campus at the University of Florida. This is a very special time of year for us. Final exams are ongoing. This Saturday we have winter graduation where over 4,000 young men and women will get their degrees, and the University goes on and on. And that's really what today is all about, as well. We are an institution that renews ourselves, builds on its past, and hopefully goes on to bigger and better things in the future. So without further ado I'd like to introduce the best athletic director anywhere, Mr. Jeremy Foley.
JEREMY FOLEY: Thank you very much. It's good to see you all again. Obviously it's my pleasure today to introduce to the Gator Nation our new head football coach Will Muschamp. We talked last week about some things we were looking for in our football coach; obviously someone who had a familiarity with the Southeastern Conference. We felt that was very, very important. We wanted a coach who had competed on a big stage, and Will has done that his entire career. We wanted a relentless recruiter, someone who had a familiarity with the state of Florida and the Southeastern Conference, obviously energy and passion. Anybody who does any research on Will Muschamp knows he brings all those characteristics to the table and more. So we quickly honed in on Will and certainly respected the job he has done at every stop along the way in his career, and it became all the more evident he was that perfect fit I talked about for this institution and this community. A guy that grew up in this town. And again, the more and more you researched him, it was obvious he was the guy we wanted to go after, and we want after him. Last Saturday we had the pleasure to go to Austin and visit with him and his wonderful family, Carol, his two sons Jackson and Whit. The thing that may have clinched it was a beautiful black lab, Maggie, beautiful dog. But again, had a great day in Austin, a great meeting, and it was very, very clear early on that this was the guy that we wanted to bring to Gainesville to lead our football program and build on the wonderful foundation that's been left here by Urban Meyer. So again, it's my honor to introduce to you and bring back to Gainesville the 23rd head football coach of the University of Florida, Will Muschamp. Coach?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Well, it's great to be here. I am certainly honored and proud to be the head football coach of the University of Florida. It's a great day certainly for my family and Florida. I want to thank Dr. Machen. No great organization has anything but great leadership in the top of it, and the University of Florida has that. All my research pointed very well to the job that you've done as president, and I appreciate that.
When Jeremy called me, we first had our conversations, he talked about a fit, and really when he started describing exactly what he was looking for, he wanted somebody that had the experience in the SEC that understood when he walked into those venues you're going to walk into, he understood how to compete in those situations. He wanted a guy who understood what it was going to take to be a relentless recruiter in this league and understand the recruiting bases you're going to go against, the recruiting teams you're going to go against. He was going to follow the rules and represent the University in a first-class manner.
He wanted a good fit for Gainesville and our community. And he wanted somebody that understood the expectations of the program. And the expectations of Florida is winning championships, and believe me, I understand that and I understand what you've got to do to be successful in this situation.
So when he described that to me on the phone, it got me more and more excited because I felt like he was describing me, the perfect fit for Florida. I know that there will be criticism, whatever, about maybe not hiring a guy with head coaching experience, which I certainly understand that. But I do think if you look at it, you can really look at all the examples across the board of guys that had no head coaching experience and did an outstanding job because they were the right fit for the right job at the right time, and you can look at a lot of examples of guys that had head coaching experience and went to situations like Florida and didn't have success like you thought they might have.
So again, I agree with Jeremy and his research that there is a certain fit you look for in all situations, and again, I feel like I'm the right fit for Jeremy, and I can certainly tell you you're not going to regret that. I'm excited about the opportunity.
The more impressive thing about Florida to me was the administration. They know how to be successful and they know what you need to do to be successful, and really as a coach, you've got to have people that are going to back you in that way, and with the three National Championships since 1996, they understand what it's going to take there.
I want to recognize my mom and dad, Larry and Sally Muschamp, for being here. Obviously getting back to Gainesville is a lot of fun. My two brothers Mike and Pat. We have had a lot of good football games at 1122 Northwest 22nd Street off 8th Avenue in Gainesville, Florida. Mike was Wayne Peace a lot, Pat was Tyrone Young and I was Tony Lilly, on the back end there for all you Gator guys that know a lot about the Gators.
I want to thank my wonderful wife Carol. Please stand, honey, and be recognized there. It's really difficult being a coach's wife, especially mine, okay. During the season she's a widow. She's dealing without me a lot because I work an awful lot and very driven in what we do, and I do want to do a good job for our football team and our football players and our program, and I think I've got an obligation to do that. My two sons Jackson and Whit, excited about being Gators, but my wife is my best friend and a great mother and a great wife, and I think she's done a phenomenal job and had a lot of sacrifices in moving and doing things that it takes to be successful in this profession.
We're excited about being here. We're excited about being in Gainesville.
Really I think as far as going recruiting, which I did yesterday, I can't comment on anything specifically about it but we got a great reception. When you walk into a home and you talk about being a student-athlete at the University of Florida, I talk in terms of I want all of our student-athletes to come into our program to be a better person for having been at Florida, all right, and I'm not just talking about from a football standpoint, from a strength standpoint. I'm talking about the off-the-field things. Academically obviously is very important to me, and I'm going to get to that in a second.
But we're going to have programs set for our players that are going to help with leadership development, character development and the mental conditioning it takes to be successful. It's all about making good choices and decisions nowadays. There's a lot of distractions out there. There's a lot of things that can go wrong when you make a poor choice and decision. There's nothing more frustrating to me than to see a young man make a poor choice and somebody says he must be a bad kid. He's not a bad kid, he's a kid who made a poor choice and decision. I want to do great job of conditioning our players to make good choices and decisions. And again, I think that's something that we can supplement our plan with here at Florida along with our football, along with our academic, along with our social, along with our spiritual to make sure that our players are exposed to those types of things.
I think it's critical that they get their degree when they come here. It hit home for me. I was lucky enough to coach in the National Football League. I was at the Miami Dolphins, and I'll never forget it, a 24-year-old man who had a bad knee, who was married and had two children came into my office in tears because they had cut him that day. He said, Coach, I've got nothing to fall back on. And that's when it really hit home with me. I said, well, you just need to go back and finish up school. He said, Coach, I'm over a year away; I went to a school that doesn't pay for their students to come back and try to finish for their degree. And that's where it hit home. You've got to get your degree. That's why you're here.
Less than 4 percent of everybody who plays college football, Division 1, 1AA, Division 2 and Division 3 make it in less than four years in the National Football League. So at 26 the money is done, and you've got the rest of your life to live. You've got to get a degree. I'm going to emphasize it, if our kids don't want to get their degree, they don't need to be here. If they're not going to go to class and act the right way, they don't need to be here. There's a certain thing that I'm going to refer to as the Florida way, and that's the way they need to act and that's the way they need to represent our University, all right, and I'm going to demand that and I think that you'll understand in time that that's something that's very important to me.
I do feel like there's a spiritual side to the college atmosphere for all our players. It's nothing that's going to be forced on anybody, but I do think it's important to have a team pastor involved. There's something they'll tell those men that they may not tell old Coach Muschamp. My stuff falls on deaf ears after a while, and it's good to have that development for our football team and our football players.
Now as we work into the football development of it, we've got to do a great job in our weight room. Excited that Mickey is going to stay on and be a Gator. He's as good a strength coach as there is in the country, and my first visit was to our weight room to visit with him and make sure he understood that he and I are on the same page for our athletes, and I think he's phenomenal.
We will be a pro style attack offensively and defensively. As far as special teams is concerned, I feel like our players will be exposed to cutting-edge schemes what's going to do to make sure that they show their abilities if they want to play on the next level they certainly can have those opportunities.
I really feel like the most important thing when you talk about football, it's a great team game. All right, and at the University of Florida it's about winning championships, and that's what I understand the expectation is and that's what we're here to do. We need to understand the process it takes in order to do that, the hard work, the dedication, the common-purpose attitude it's going to take and the all-in attitude it's going to take in order to do that. But I think that obviously it's been something that's been done here before. We've got support from our administration and I understand that that is the expectation.
And once our young men graduate, once they finish playing, we need the Gator Nation to come together and help them launch their careers, all right, by the NCAA rules and make sure that we help these young men that came to Florida, graduated, did it the right way, finished their playing days and we helped them launch their careers.
The University of Florida is a powerful place. It's a flagship University in this state. There's an awful lot of Gators in this state. Believe me, I recruited against them for a long time, so I know, and I've lost a lot of battles, all right, so I'm glad I've got the right orange and blue on this time.
But our program is going to be based in a family atmosphere with three basic things; trust, respect and communication. Those are all two-way streets. It takes two to do it. You're going to earn my trust, you're going earn my respect, and we've got to be able to communicate. Any good organization, any good marriage, any good relationship has great communication, and that's paramount in my opinion.
We're going to embrace the tradition and history of the program. I've got great memories from back then. Back then it was just Florida Field, it wasn't the Swamp. It is the Swamp now, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. I have great memories since my dad had Florida season tickets for us in the north end zone, which was not the north end zone it is now, I can assure you of that. We walked right off the street and we walked down. But some great memories of a 17 to 9 victory over USC and watching Wilbur Marshall play outside backer about as good as you can play and watching Charlie Pell circle the field when it was over. Watching James Jones make a one-hand catch against Miami, and he was inbounds, I do remember that. All the Miami fans make sure he was inbounds.
A lot of the picture days with the Gators there, and my mom wanted to get her picture taken with Cris Collinsworth the whole time. As a young guy I never understood that, but I understand now.
A lot of the Heisman Trophy winners, Danny Wuerffel, I've looked forward to reaching out to; Tim Tebow the night I took the job called me and obviously a guy that I loved competing against because he's such a great competitor and a great athlete and obviously a Heisman winner, and I reached out and actually talked to Steve Spurrier today and he congratulated me on the job. What a phenomenal year he had as a player and then a great 12-year run as a coach.
Some great coaches here. You look at Ray Graves back in the '60s who was on the cutting edge offensively in throwing the football, obviously helped Coach Spurrier in his career as a player here, the 12-year run that he had and then Urban Meyer. What a phenomenal job he's done.
When Jeremy sat with me in my living room there on Saturday and we talked about the job at Florida, we continued to talk, we were having great discussions about everything as far as philosophically what we believed in the program, what we believed was important. Jeremy has got vast experience here at the University of Florida, so I'll lean on him a lot on a lot of things. But as we kept talking I felt like I needed to talk to Urban Meyer. And I said, do you mind if I call him. He threw the phone at me, said here he is right here. I got on the phone, walked in the other room, and I talked about the things that I felt like were important in the program, and it's a lot of the same beliefs in the program that he believes.
We kept talking, the more and more I started to really like him. I've recruited against him and competed him against him but have never met him. But the more I talked to him, the more I liked him. I can tell you this right now, as long as Will Muschamp is the football coach here, Urban Meyer is going to be involved in this program, and I've invited him into the weight room, I've invited him onto the practice field, I've invited him to the meetings and whatever he wants to do because he'll be a great sounding board for me, number one, and he needs to be involved in this program. He knows the players, recruited them all, and he's still helping us in the recruiting class that we've got going this year. And he's a great sounding board for me and a part of this great tradition of Florida football.
I'm not a guy, I'm more worried about perception than I am reality, so the perception can be whatever it is out there, I deal in real world, I deal reality. And I've got no ego. My agenda is the players and the University of Florida, and it's about winning. That's what the fun is. It's about winning football games and doing it the right way, and however we need to do that, that's what we're going to do.
But his wife Shelley, Nicole, Gigi and Nathan will be a part of the Florida family, I can assure you of that. I'm excited to be able to work with him.
One of the major attractions obviously was the state of Florida. The recruiting base is absolutely phenomenal. There's great high school coaching in this state, there are great players in this state. The first thing we need to do in recruiting is take care of our backyard. We need to continue to do a good job of evaluating in the state of Florida, which I've recruited the entire state along with the entire southeast. But we're going to take the right players. We have an evaluation process. I learned an awful lot when I went to the Miami Dolphins about taking the right players. We've got a critical factors for every position in our offense and our defense, and exactly what we look for at every position to eliminate mistakes. Along with that is character and different evaluations off the field that determine a great player.
Two years ago I had a young man that I used to coach at LSU sent me a team picture of our 2003 National Championship, and as I watched it, as I looked at it, he wanted me to sign it, and as I looked at it I noticed, number one, there was some really good football players on that team, but the other thing was there was some great people on that team. There was some outstanding individuals on that team that had the common purpose of what we're going to build here again and what we've done three times since 1996.
But we're going to take the right guys, and we're going to worry about the guys we sign, not the ones that go someplace else, all right. We're going to worry about the guys that want to play at Florida. We've got to worry about those guys 365 days a year. The ones we go somewhere else, we worry about them once, okay, so we're going to take care of our guys and make sure we understand that the players that want to come to Florida and want to play at Florida, that's important to me. And that's why you've got to take care of your backyard first, because when you go play Florida State and you go play Georgia and you go play in the SEC, it's important for these young men to understand the importance of those games and playing against those teams.
Really as a football team, I want to be known as a blue collar, overachieving unit. We're going to recruit good players here, okay. We're going to recruit good players here. But they need to buy into the fact of taking the talent they have and what God has blessed them with and stretch it to the potential that they've got, okay, so if we buy into that blue collar attitude, which is what I am, and an overachiever, which is what I am, and I think the players are a reflection of their coach, so hopefully we can sell that to our football team and produce that attitude on the field.
But we will be a physically, mentally and tough football team. We will be a physically tough football team. And it's not something you talk about, it's something you live your life with, all right, and it starts with Mickey in the weight room and it starts in January after the Bowl game when our kids come back from camp, and it starts with our off-season program, it starts with spring practice; it goes through the summer; it goes into training camp and every day. We're not dumb tough, we're going to practice the right way, we're going to prepare the right way, we're going to train the right way. But we will be a physically tough football team. And it's not something you talk about, it's something you do all the time.
Offensively I want to be balanced. I think in the SEC, the SEC is the line of scrimmage league. The difference between the SEC and all of the other leagues are simply this, the defensive linemen. Top to bottom you've got to keep them off balance because they're too good top to bottom to just have one or two good defensive lines through the season. You're facing a bunch of good ones, all right, so we've got to have balance on offense. We've got to be able to run the ball, we've got to run the ball to kill the game at the end, run the ball in the red zone, and run the ball to develop toughness on your football team. You've got to stop the run in the SEC, and you can't just hope it happens on Saturday afternoon. You've got to practice against it every single day, whether it's from one back or two back in my opinion really doesn't matter. But you've also got to be able to throw it, you've got to be able to make the defense defend the field 53 and a third yards wide and 120 yards deep. You've got to stretch the field vertically and make them defend it.
I know we've got great speed here, and I know that Urban and his staff have done job of recruiting speed so we've got to be balanced and be able to convert it on 3rd down and throw it. But we want to be balanced in what we do offensively.
With that said, I know there's going to be a lot of people ask what type of style offense are we going to be? I want to hire an experienced play caller. I would like for him to have a background in both college and pro football. I think it's important that we have some pro-style systems to what we want to do.
But I think the best coaches out there, they look at their roster and they evaluate who they are at this time. And then they recruit to who they want to be, okay, and so we're going to evaluate our roster to what we are right now, all right, don't lie to ourselves. We don't want to take our scheme players and say this is what we are. We want to evaluate players at the right spots where they can be successful, and that's what we plan on doing. Will there be more pro style ideas in our offense? There certainly will be. We want to be balanced in what we do regardless of who we hire, which will obviously be a big hire for me, me being a defensive coach.
Now, defensively we'll carry a lot of the same values and the same things we've done everywhere we've been. There will be some components of the 3-4, the 4-3. We'd like to be a man pressure team, but the big thing you've got to do defensively nowadays, you've got to be multiple in what you do. You've got to be able to change week to week. The hardest thing about being a defensive coach nowadays is week one you see this offense, week two there is zero carryover to the next week. You're going to see something totally different. To week three there's zero carryover from this week.
So your kids are learning a whole new scheme each week, and you've got to have something that's flexible enough to adjust week in, week out to what these teams do against really good coaches and really good skilled athletes in the SEC. And that's where I think we've got an advantage from the standpoint we do have a multiple scheme that we do teach an awful lot, our players are able to learn an awful lot.
But again, I think that defense is my strength. I have not decided yet whether or not I will call the defenses or not. That will be decided based on who we hire and who we're able to bring in.
But the thing you need to trust with a little blind faith on my part is I'm going to make the best decisions for Florida. I have zero timetable on hiring a staff. It's not about doing the easiest thing, it's not about doing the quickest thing, it's about making the best decision, and that's what we need to do for the University of Florida right now.
There has been no one offered a job in the country right now by the University of Florida to work on our football staff, regardless of what you read. There's one source in this football program, and that's me, and there's one guy hiring coaches and that's me, okay, so nobody has been offered a job, and let me make sure everybody understands that before we walk out of here tonight.
So we're going to make the best decisions we can for our staff. We have an outstanding staff here on campus. I've talked extensively with Urban about the coaches. I've got outstanding men, coaches and recruiters, and we'll evaluate those guys in the coming weeks before the Bowl game. But nothing is going to be done in my opinion right now before the Bowl game as far as coaches that will be hired, retained, whatever. But we're going to take the best decisions for those situations, and right now I've got absolutely no timetable with that.
As far as special teams is concerned, I would like to hire a coordinator; I do think that's important. It is one third of the game. I explained it to the guys in a team meeting tonight that Bill Parcells said something that made an awful lot of sense to me. If you're not a quarterback or offensive lineman and you don't play on special teams, you're a selfish football player because in the NFL, there's only a 53-man roster, okay, so if you are not a marquee player you'd better be on special teams for the game or you're not getting on the bus to go to the stadium, okay. So our guys need to understand that. Our best players will play on special teams. We have got to control the vertical field position in the game, and special teams certainly is a way to do that. That starts with your specialists, number one, and your returners number two, but obviously it's important to have your best players, your best space players especially, and recruiting the speed we've recruited here, I'm excited about that.
I'm not a big stat guy. There is one stat I pay attention to, and that's winning football games. There is no ugly win. You either win or you lose, so we're into winning games. There are two things that I think are important, all right, is turnover ratio and big play ratio. You've got to make big explosive plays on offense, change the vertical field position, you can't give them up on defense, you can't give up the ball on offense, and you've got to get turnovers on defense. That creates momentum in the game which is a hidden stat and the stat that I do think does give some credits to.
But I'm excited about being here, I'm excited about our football team. I think Urban and his staff have done a great job of recruiting. Again, we've just got to come in here together, blend this thing together as far as bridging forward with Florida football, and I'm certainly excited about those opportunities, and I'll open it up for any questions.
Q. You grew up a Gator, you went to Georgia, coached under Nick Saban, you shared a house with Jimbo Fisher. Kind of gone full circle, haven't you?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Well, I suffered some temporary insanity there for a while. But yeah, I grew up -- again, my father bought season tickets in the north end zone and I remember watching the games growing up and dreaming of being a Gator. Unfortunately I wasn't very good coming out of high school and nobody wanted me. I was a walk-on, and it's a little cheaper to go to Georgia than there is Florida.
Funny story, when Coach Spurrier was the coach here, they told us to come down for the unofficial visit, and so we came down here, and we waited for awful long time in the football office and nobody showed up. He was 2-under at the turn. So I guess we didn't get a chance to see him.
But it worked out that I went to Georgia and had a decent career, was not a great player, was a typical overachiever that wasn't very successful against the Gators, I can certainly tell you that. I helped Doering and all those guys set records. But I did -- Jimbo Fisher obviously, the coach of Florida State, and I worked together at LSU and bought a beach house together and we haven't negotiated what's going to happen with that yet. I don't know.
Q. Could you just talk about why you decided to leave behind the University of Texas where obviously they were counting on you as the head coach who wasn't going to be there to come here?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Well, and I should have said this earlier. University of Texas was very good to Will Muschamp and my family. Bill Power, president; DeLoss Dodds, athletic director; Mack Brown, football coach, were outstanding, the board of regents headed by Colleen McHugh were absolutely phenomenal in their support of me. But a Florida opportunity doesn't come up very often. Having lived in Gainesville, having understood the community, having been in the SEC for a long time, knowing the tradition of this program and really the potential of this program to continue to play at a high level, compete for championships year in, year out, the recruiting base was phenomenal. I mean, all the critical factors that I look at in a job, recruiting base, support, resources, administration, all of the things were there. Everything you need is here at this job.
And again, it was a decision that when Jeremy called me about the fit, I agreed with him number one, and number two, when he offered the job I took it immediately.
Q. As a follow-up to that, what was it like to work for Mack Brown?
WILL MUSCHAMP: It's difficult from the standpoint but Mack was great. Mack was happy for Will Muschamp. That's the way Mack Brown is. He was happy the fact he knew I was ready to be a head coach. He knew that was what I wanted at the end of the day, and I think he was very pleased for me, but that's just the way Mack is. Mack is not a selfish guy. He's a guy that wants what's best for his assistants and best for his coaches, and I appreciate that.
Q. Can you just talk about do you think it gives you an advantage at all that you do know -- Urban came in here from outside, he didn't know the area, he had to get educated to the rivalries. Do you think that gives you an advantage in terms of playing against the rivalries, Georgia, Tennessee, FSU?
WILL MUSCHAMP: I don't think it gives you an advantage, I think you understand a little bit more before you walk into the stadium. I mean, it's different, it's hard to explain the SEC to be honest with you. It's hard to explain the venues you play in. Hatred is a strong word, but it's close for some of the places you go. But again, that's -- you've got to do a good job of preparing your football team and your football team understands especially going into a place the expectation of how you're going to be received when you go play there. But I don't know that it gives you an advantage.
Good football coaches regardless of where they coach are going to be able to prepare their football teams well, and Urban did a phenomenal job.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the schedule next year, obviously Tennessee and Florida State, the usuals, but also Auburn and Alabama. As you change this offensive scheme, how do you see expectations working out for the fans in a tough season like that? And who is your starting quarterback?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Well, I don't -- first of all, I haven't even looked at our roster to be honest with you. I've had a cell phone growing out of my ear the last three days working on recruits, so I haven't even really looked at our roster, number one. The schedule is going to be tough, no matter what you're doing. I don't really plan on changing the offense. Obviously there's going to be a natural change with a new coordinator. But again, that's part of the evolution of what we're trying to do here, and again, we're going to evaluate our roster, when we have time, when we settle down from recruiting, when we hire coaches and make sure that we make the right decisions for Florida. And that's really what we're going to do.
But as far as the expectation, I know that the Gator Nation is going to have high expectations, and I am, too, and I expect to win. We're not on a five-year plan here.
Q. As you mentioned earlier, a great number of assistant coaches have gone on to be successful, some have not. What do you think the qualities are of the guys who have succeeded and do you think you have those qualities?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Well, I think I've got them, number one. Number two, I think a lot of your success is who you're surrounded by. I think we have good players and I think we've recruited well here. And number two, you've got to surround yourself with a great staff. I think that you look at all of those situations where guys have been successful, those are the common denominators I would say, great talent level walking into a great situation as far as the football team is concerned, number one, and number two, hiring a great staff around you and letting them coach.
Q. What discussions have you had with the current staff that's in place now, and what's your plan with them in terms of seeing if they'll stay or go?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Well, again, we're going to work through the Bowl game. Urban Meyer is the head football coach through the Outback Bowl. I'm strictly a spectator, and I'm going to evaluate the players and then make a decision for Florida as far as our staff is concerned, and there's some outstanding coaches on this staff and I'm in contact right now from people around the country and in talking to Urban and in evaluating while we go through practice the guy who have my temperament on the field.
Q. Any chance Urban Meyer is going to be your special teams coordinator, and looking at the things --
WILL MUSCHAMP: He's good at it, I know that.
Q. And looking at the things that drove him away from the game, the health and the family, do you worry about those same things in your career?
WILL MUSCHAMP: I certainly do. You push yourself to the limit. I think you end every season, you're burning the candle at the bottom. But again, I can only speak for me. I can't speak for anybody else. It's something that you've got to work in balance with your family. You've got to work in balance with your health. You've got to make sure that you look after those things. I've tried to do better over the years, but it is tough. Some guys are able to go home at 7:00 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. And I'm not saying it's right for everybody, I'm just saying that's the way I do things.
Q. With regard to the year that you spent with the Miami Dolphins, what did you like about that experience and what was it that ultimately sent you back to the college game after such a short time in the NFL?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Well, it was a great learning experience, as much as anything from an evaluation standpoint. When we came in, you have a scouting department and you've got a coaching department, and really Nick was the general manager/head coach. He was in charge of both departments. So when we came in, they didn't really understand from the scouting department what we were looking for.
So that's when Nick came to me and said, defensively I need you to list the critical factors at each position of what we want, which he and I obviously were on the same page with what we wanted. The offensive coordinator did the same thing, so the offensive staff really detailed exactly by position what the guard needs, what the tackle needs, what the center needs. Take the mold of the best player at this position you've ever had and describe him in words, and then we took it to our scouting department and let them go through it so they had a better understanding on film what we look for, on paper what we look for and all of the intangibles that we look for that really make somebody a great player. That was my best learning experience.
But the tough thing is in the NFL there's only 32 teams, okay, so the turnover ratio in that league is about two or three years for an assistant coach. And I don't want to live in San Francisco, and that's not any offense to anybody from San Francisco. But I'm from the south and I'm not going much west of Texas and I'm not going much north of Tennessee with my family. So that eliminates now about eight teams, so if those teams aren't open, you're in a bind. That as much as anything had to do with my decision.
Q. You've talked about childhood here in Gainesville, but what was it like going growing up in Rome, Georgia, and what were some of the things about growing up in that town that really shaped who you are today?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Well, I don't know that it's the town, it was the people that were surrounding me, the people around me. And obviously my parents have done a phenomenal job. My brothers went to a great school that had a lot of people, that all of my high school coaches certainly had a high impact on my life, and that's why I enjoy coaching as much as anything. I first took a job, it was for about $17,000 at West Georgia, and I lined the fields and washed the pants there after practice. It wasn't because of money, I can assure you of that. But positively affecting other people is something that I really enjoy doing.
Q. You've obviously worked for some dynamite head coaches. Could you talk specifically about some of the things you've taken from each and how it's helped you mold your head coaching?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Well, again, I've worked for a lot of really good head coaches. One guy that doesn't get mentioned enough is Roy Kidd. He won over 300 games at Eastern Kentucky and absolutely a phenomenal man. I've been very fortunate, and I think I've taken positive things from each spot, but I think each spot has been different, each stop I've had. Texas was different from Auburn, Auburn was different from LSU and Florida will be different in its own set of ways. So to take a manual from this book, from this college and say, stick this helmet sticker on, now this is what we're going to do, I think you've got to do a good job of evaluating where you are, understanding the culture and the environment you're in and then make good decisions from there.
I've learned just as much what to do as what not to do, too. But all those guys certainly impacted my career in a positive way, and I'm very appreciative of the opportunities they gave me.
Q. When you found out that Coach Meyer was stepping down, did you have any inkling that they might give you a call?
WILL MUSCHAMP: I don't know, I've been in this profession for a long time, and unfortunately when things like that happen, you wonder why. First of all, I was worried about his health. That was the first thing that popped into my mind. But I certainly didn't feel like that Jeremy Foley would call me. But I was certainly relieved and pleased that he did.
Q. The house that you lived in here, it's the one that looks like a spaceship, right?
WILL MUSCHAMP: No, that's next door. My parents are still mad about that being built. It devalued our property a lot.
Q. You always as an assistant have been very wired and animated on the sideline. Can you still be that way, should you still be that way?
WILL MUSCHAMP: I'm going to be me. I think the worst thing you can do in a leadership position is try and be something you're not. I'm going to be me, I'm going to be Will Muschamp, I'm going to be involved with the players, and I think, again, the players are a reflection of their coach and I hope they feed off the intensity that we try to bring to the game.
Q. Also, what do you know about yourself that tells you that this is the time to be a head coach, that you're ready?
WILL MUSCHAMP: It's funny you ask that, say that. Mack Brown told me when he first went to Texas he was ready to be the head coach at Texas. He had been the head coach for I think close to 20 years -- no, maybe not 20 years, but he was close. He said, I was nowhere near ready for this. Urban Meyer has talked to me about being ready to be the head coach of the University of Florida. He said, he had been a head coach for a long time and said, I wasn't really ready for this. So I don't know that anybody is ready for a place like Florida or Texas, all right, but you certainly understand what you're getting into, you understand the circumstances you're with, and you're excited about the opportunities, and I'm going to embrace this opportunity. I'm excited about it. I understand what's at stake here, and I'm real pleased about this opportunity.
Q. Might you and Jimbo play for that beach house this year?
WILL MUSCHAMP: No, no.
Q. Secondly, a guy you might be familiar with Bob Stoops was 39 years old when he got his first head coaching job. You talk about guys who have been assistant coaches who have gone on to be great head coaches. Have you sort of followed him? Would you mold your career after him? Anything you take from him?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Well, certainly you look at situations that may be similar to yours and you look at what they had, and when I referenced taking over a talented team and hiring a great staff, I think Bob did that. And I think that's a good mold to look at, and I think that there's other examples. I think Bo Pelini took over some good talent at Nebraska, a good friend of mine, and hired a really good staff and has done an outstanding job.
Again, I think those are the two key ingredients in this situation. But I don't care if I've got ten years. That's still the key ingredients. It really doesn't matter whether you have head coaching experience or not. When it all boils down to it, it's about relating with people -- every kid has got a key, okay, and it's your job as a coach, whether you're the head coach or a position coach or the coordinator, to find that key, and you can't approach and teach everyone the same because everybody learns differently and everybody is motivated in different ways. But you've got to find out what this key is and you you've dig hard to find on some of them now and have patience in doing so.
So again, I think the strength of me as a coach is relating with people, and then on the defensive side of the ball. That's why hiring an offensive coordinator is a critical hire for me.
Q. Some of the factors that you said that go into having success at a program also exist at Texas, as well. So coming here, was that just the chance to be head coach sooner as opposed to waiting for Coach Brown to retire, is that what pulled you here away from Texas?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Well, I don't want to get into comparisons because they're both outstanding universities, but when you sit down with Jeremy Foley and you understood sincerity of what he wanted and the fit of what he wanted and how excited he was about my opportunity at Florida, it gets you excited, and when you do your background checks on the administration here, on Jeremy and all the way through, it's first class. And so I looked at the opportunity and my wife was on board, and as long as she's on board and mom was happy, we're ready to roll. So that's what we did.
Q. As a follow up, how much on fieldwork do you plant to do between now and the Outback Bowl with Florida, observing practice?
WILL MUSCHAMP: I'm just going to observe practice and that's it. Again, this is Coach Meyer's team and this is their Bowl game. He's told me he wants me at practice and wants my opinion on things, and to watch things. Again, I told the guys tonight, first impression is so critical. First impression is so critical. And I said, you guys have got a chance for a first impression right now, and that's in Bowl practice. I told the football team, there's two things I think we need to do; number one is this is exam week, we've got to finish strong academically. Number two, we need to send Urban Meyer out the right way with a win over Penn State. This guy is going to be a Hall of Fame football coach and we need to prepare well in this game, we need to practice well, you need to reach for an edge, and whatever you've got to do to motivate yourself, all right, if you're not a self-starter, find something that can and do that for our senior class and for Coach Meyer.
And that's exactly what I told the football team.
Q. Talk about your first experience on the Florida field and what that was like, and in your wildest dreams did you ever think you'd be standing here as the head coach?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Certainly not, but it was probably a picture day, one of the pictures days there when all of the players were out there. It was funny because Wilbur Marshall, because that was before he was a really good player, and he spent a lot of time with us that day because nobody was talking to him. It made you appreciate a guy -- talking to a young man and then a year later here he is on the national stage against USC and has a phenomenal game and then has the career he has with the Chicago Bears. That's a lot of fun to watch.
Q. And another guy who grew up at Florida field and you're familiar with because he went to Texas first is Johnny Brantley. Can you talk a little bit about your knowledge about Johnny Brantley?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Again, I know that Johnny was committed to go to Texas, and really in the recruiting realm you really look at from the standpoint of -- I told Greg and Mack, Greg Davis our offensive coordinator and obviously Mack Brown, his dad played quarterback at Florida and his uncle was a linebacker and was a really good one.
But I think when it comes down to it, some schools are very attractive when you're further away from signing day and the miles don't matter. The closer you move to signing day, all of a sudden those miles start adding up, and really when it all boils down to it, family is very important in those decisions and playing in front of family is very important.
And I haven't talked to Johnny specifically about the decision, but that would be my guess.
Q. Can you talk about the overriding message that you told the team?
WILL MUSCHAMP: Well, I think any time there's change, there's a little bit of uneasiness, there's a little bit of uncertainty, there's a little bit of question about what's happening to us right now, and these young men are in a very -- they're sort of in transforming their lives right now. They're in college, they're not really sure what's happening. Their head coach is leaving. There's a lot of question marks in their life right now, and I was raised and Larry Muschamp used to tell me 10 percent of life is what happens to you, 90 percent is what you do with it. I told them there's two things you can control right now, how you prepare for the Bowl game and how you finish on exams, and not necessarily in that order. So let's finish strong academically and let's have a great Bowl preparation and let's have a great Bowl game, send the seniors out right, send Coach Meyer out right, and when we come back in January we're going to let the chips fall where they may.
Anybody that has a question or concern come to me, I'll address it stand-up guy. They may not like what I have to do, but I'm going to be honest with you and with where we are. And I've asked for them to have some blind faith in me to make the best decisions for them and the University of Florida.
Redshirt Junior Quarterback John Brantley
On the shift to a "pro-style" offense:
"I think he is going to do a great job coming in here and molding the offense to what our players do best."
On Coach Muschamp's meeting with the team Tuesday afternoon:
"We were really excited to have a chance to meet him. He approached the team with a lot of confidence. He told us our plans, how to finish out this season. I think he is going to be a great fit here at the University of Florida."
On any differences he noticed between Coach Meyer and Coach Muschamp:
"There are not many (differences). They are both very intense guys. They are great coaches with great backgrounds and I don't think there is going to be too much that is different."
On what the team's emotions are with the coaching changes:
"I think our team is going to stay really focused on this bowl game and work with the coaches we have right now so we can get a win for Coach Meyer and these seniors."
Redshirt Sophomore Cornerback Jeremy Brown
On his first impression of Coach Muschamp:
"I like Coach Muschamp a lot. It's my second impression of him because I was recruited by him when he was at Auburn. This is just meeting him again and building a closer relationship. I'm excited. He's a defensive guy and I'm looking forward to playing for him."
On the first time he saw Coach Muschamp during his recruitment:
"I remember going to a game and seeing how fiery he was and the passion that he brought. Like I said, I'm excited for the opportunity and just can't wait (to play for him)."
On how the team received meeting Coach Muschamp Tuesday:
"Everyone is pretty excited. When there's change, there's always something different about the next guy, but everybody is looking forward to this (Muschamp coaching). We cannot wait to hit the ground running. Everyone is excited and can tell he's a fiery guy. We've all done our homework and seen how he's an in-your-face kind of coach. He brings a lot of passion to the game. That is what we're excited about."
Sophomore Wide Receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr.
On his first impression of Coach Muschamp after speaking with the team earlier today:
"Everybody embraced him. I found out that he has a tremendous history at Florida being from here. There is definitely a more comfortable feeling knowing he knows the expectations and traditions and everything that goes on within the University."
On Coach Muschamp's fire and intensity during the first meeting:
"He is a straight up (kind of) guy. He laid out what he wants, what he wants to see and what he plans on doing with the University."