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Tuesday July 24, 2012Muschamp at ESPN for Day of Interviews, Fan Chats (updated 5 p.m.)

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

BRISTOL, Conn. -- ESPN headquarters are in the rearview mirror for several SEC football coaches here today for a series of interviews on various ESPN platforms.

Those same coaches are now waiting in the lobby of a small airport in nearby Waterbury as the weather clears enough for their flights home to take off.

It's a strange scene, a small airport in the Northeast packed with Gators coach Will Muschamp, South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, John L. Smith of Arkansas, Kentucky's Joker Phillips, Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss and Georgia's Mark Richt.

Not any major news out of Muschamp's media sessions today. Much of it was covered at last week's SEC Football Media Days in Alabama.

A few behind-the-scenes nuggets:

--As Muschamp was leaving ESPN, a UF student working as an intern at the World Wide Leader came over to wish him the best of luck. ESPN President John Skipper told Muschamp earlier in the day that the sports network has five UF students doing internships this summer.

--The best part of the trip has been listening to Muschamp and Spurrier, who flew to Connecticut with UF's contingent, talk football and tell stories.

--Prior to doing an interview for the "Scott Van Pelt Show," Muschamp bumped into ESPN's Steve Coughlin. Coughlin is a former teammate of UF football staff member Jon Haskins.

What did Coughlin have to say about Haskins?

"He ran more laps for fighting than anybody on our team,'' Coughlin said.

Once again courtesy of John Hines in UF's sports information office, here is a transcript of a Muschamp interview on the "Scott Van Pelt Show."

Q: You picked up Spurrier on the way up to Bristol?

A: Two years in a row we've picked him up so he's enjoying riding with the Gators.

Q: How much pressure do you feel considering the program's performance of late?

A: I think the pressure is what you put on yourself – I don't really think that I have a stressful job. No one made me sign up to do this. I wanted to be a college football coach. I really enjoy what I am doing. There's not a day even after a hard loss that I go to work that I'm not excited about going to work and representing the University of Florida. I enjoy what I do, I enjoy dealing with the young people. I try to remove all of the clutter outside of the things that I can't control and control managing our football team.

Q: Is there more pressure starting out 4-0 and then finishing 7-6 rather than getting off to a slow start and then finishing strong?

A: I think it's a different management issue when you start slow as opposed to starting fast. I'm an emotional guy on the sidelines but I'm a very technical in our approach to our football team. When you lose your senior quarterback, you're going to struggle and we did. We lost confidence, we didn't have quality enough depth on both lines of scrimmage and we knew that going the season. As a football coach, whether you're a head coach or been a defensive coordinator for long time, I understood that those were our misgivings going into the season.

Q: What is the latest on the quarterback situation?

A: As we walk into fall camp, we can win with both Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. They're both very talented players. Someone needs to create some separation in fall camp as far as managing our football team and I don't mean that in a conservative manner I mean making vertical plays down the field, taking care of the football, scoring points, moving our offense and for our team to have confidence in them. I'm going to be watching that very closely in August.

Q: How does Charlie Weis' departure affect the offense?

A: We hired Brent Pease from Boise State, a guy that's been on my radar for a long time. He was the offensive coordinator at Kentucky when I was the defensive coordinator at LSU for Nick (Saban). He does an outstanding job calling plays, coaching quarterbacks, receivers. We're going to stay down the same path offensively. We're going to be balanced – we'll be 50-50 under center and in the gun. You've got to be balanced in our league. You cannot be one-dimensional and survive in our league. We have got to be able to run the football better. I thought we made strides in the spring, we'll see how it goes in the fall.

**Updated 2:45 p.m.**

Gators coach Will Muschamp is on the home stretch of his day at ESPN headquarters.

Muschamp just finished a taped interview with Rece Davis on "College Football Live." He has three more media sessions before departing for the return trip home.

Thanks to John Hines in Florida's sports information office, here are some notes from Muschamp's "SportsCenter" interview with ESPN's Chris Fowler.

Q: After watching the intro with last season's highlights, how does it make you feel?

A: Hungry – I'm excited about the foundation of where our team is at this point
Our players have been working hard; excited about the foundation which we have built.

Q: With the difficulties last year (7-6 record), what are your expectations?

A: Our goal is to reach Atlanta. We are 15-11 in the last two seasons. The two blemishes on our roster last year were QB and OL/DL. We lost John Brantley in the fifth game last year and our confidence went out the door.

Q: Update the QB battle between Driskel and Brissett?

A: We can win with both guys, their skill sets are similar. I am excited about Brent Pease. We will make a decision at the right time for the team.

Q: What is focus on offense entering camp?

A: Being more balanced and maintaining possession are two things – run the ball when needed…run in the red zone.

Q: What is the progress of injured DE Ronald Powell?

A: Someone else has to step up (mentioned Lerentee McCray). I'm excited about his [Powell's] progress – he has been cleared for straight-ahead running.

Q: What is your take on potential transfers from Penn State?

A: I think you gotta be very careful. We're very close to the season right now. Our players work really hard, and I love the chemistry in our locker room right now. You can disrupt your football team very easily by bringing somebody from the outside if it's not the right fit.

**Update 11:45 a.m.**

Gators coach Will Muschamp's first stop on the ESPN "Car Wash" is in the books.

The most interesting news item is that Muschamp told ESPN Radio the Gators have tried to keep as much terminology as possible from Charlie Weis' offense since new offensive coordinator Brent Pease arrived.

Muschamp's best quote of the interview was a question regarding the metal rod that was once in Muschamp's leg following an injury in high school. Muschamp keeps the rod on a shelf behind his desk at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as a reminder of perseverance.

As for making a potential necklace out of the rod the way a former big-league pitcher once did a rib he had removed, Muschamp deadpanned: "That's a little too much bling for me."

As Muschamp waits for his next interview, he is chatting with ESPN's Mike Golic and Colin Cowherd. He also had a long conversation with Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity, who is with Bulldogs coach Mark Richt at today's event.

Half the league's coaches were in town on Monday for the annual SEC event; Muschamp is joined by South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, Alabama's Nick Saban, John L. Smith of Arkansas, Kentucky's Joker Phillips and Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss.

**Updated 10:15 a.m.**

This day got off to an early start for Gators coach Will Muschamp, who was in a conference room at the University Air Center in Gainesville doing a local TV interview before the sun was up.

As soon as Muschamp finished the interview, he boarded a 6:45 a.m. flight with two other passengers for a trip here to ESPN headquarters.

Muschamp is participating in a daylong series of interviews on multiple ESPN platforms today as part of what ESPN calls a "Car Wash.

"I enjoy representing the University of Florida football program at events like this,'' Muschamp said. "It's part of the job."

Muschamp is scheduled to be at ESPN for five hours before departing for a flight back to Gainesville late this afternoon. I'll post some updates here during his visit.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The countdown to Florida's season opener Sept. 1 against Bowling Green kicked off last week at SEC Football Media Days.

Gator coach Will Muschamp's preseason tour continues Tuesday when he spends the day at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn.

Muschamp is scheduled to do several interviews on different ESPN platforms and participate in chats with fans on ESPN.com and Twitter.

The following events are live Tuesday:

• 12:25pm – ESPN.com chat (http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/id/44651/the-sec-coaches-chat)

• 1:40pm – "SportsCenter" with Chris Fowler

• 1:50pm – "SportsCenter" Twitter chat

You can check GatorZone.com throughout the day for updates and follow @GatorZoneScott and @GatorZoneFB on Twitter for photos and other behind-the-scenes coverage from Bristol.

 

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