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Friday November 9, 2012Carol Muschamp an Expert in Role of Coach's Wife

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- On the day Will Muschamp was officially introduced as the new Florida football coach in December 2010, he walked into a crowded room at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium holding hands with the new first lady of UF football.

As big a moment as it was for Muschamp, the day was of equal importance to his wife of 13 years, the former Carol Davis of Thomaston, Ga.

It was also much unexpected.

For perhaps the first time since the couple married in 1999, Carol Muschamp had finally felt settled during her husband's three years as defensive coordinator at Texas.

The couple's two young sons, Jackson and Whit, were in school in Austin and Muschamp, after a successful stint with the Longhorns, had been named the coach-in-waiting when Texas' Mack Brown decided to retire.

Life was good. And then Florida head coach Urban Meyer's unexpected resignation forced UF athletic director Jeremy Foley to begin a search for the Gators' next coach.

A few days later, life got better when Foley flew to Texas and offered the then-39-year-old Muschamp a chance to return to his boyhood home and take over one of the nation's top programs.

"It was so exciting. It's hard for words to express how exciting it was,'' Carol Muschamp said this week. "Here, this has been his dream all his life, to be a head coach, and then to be able to have the opportunity to be head coach at Florida, there was nothing like it."

Soon after the realization of the moment hit Carol, she knew what was next. It was something her father told her many years before when she and Will started to date and talk marriage.

She still considers it some of the truest advice she has ever received.

"The best advice my dad ever gave me when I married a coach, he said, 'You better put your furniture on wheels because you are going to be moving a lot.' I had no idea what I was getting myself into."

*****

Carol's parents and brother knew Will before she did. During his playing career at Georgia from 1990-94, one of Will's teammates and closest friends on the team was Whit Marshall, Carol's cousin.

Carol attended Ole Miss and kept busy with school and her Kappa Delta sorority. She didn't have much time to make the trip from Oxford to Athens to watch Marshall play on weekends.

Her brother, John Davis, also attended Georgia and spent a summer as Will's roommate. Eventually the two met when Carol visited John.

As for starting a relationship in college, that didn't happen.

"My brother didn't want us to date,'' she said. “He didn't want me dating any of his friends. I couldn't go out with Will when they lived together. My cousin and brother were always trying to keep Will away from me."

Time passed and both Carol and Will finished college and moved deeper into adulthood. At some point Carol said an aunt passed her phone number to Will.

A call was made. Then a first date. Soon, they were a couple.

By the time they got engaged, Will was in his first season as a full-time assistant coach at tiny West Georgia in 1998. The next year they got married when Will was an assistant at Eastern Kentucky.

Carol fully understood what her dad was talking about when in 2000 Muschamp became a defensive coordinator for the first time, taking a job at Valdosta State, the couple's third move in three years.

The next year, you guessed it, the Muschamps were on the go again when Will got his first SEC job as linebackers coach at LSU.

A season in Miami, two at Auburn and finally, three at Texas followed their four years at LSU.

Within a couple of minutes in his introductory press conference at UF, Muschamp asked Carol to stand. He wanted to make sure his top assistant received recognition for their journey to Gainesville.

"I want to thank my wonderful wife Carol,'' Will said to the woman he called honey. "It's really difficult being a coach's wife, especially mine, OK. 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 Witt, 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."

*****

Shortly after Muschamp's introduction, he went to work and Carol and the boys returned home to Austin where they remained for a few months for the kids to finish out the school year.

Will spent his days in the office and nights in a local hotel.

Still, despite the sacrifices at the beginning of her husband's tenure, she is thankful to be in Gainesville and has easily adjusted to the higher profile that comes with being the head coach's wife in a small college town.

"You have to be independent. Be who you are and have hobbies,'' she said when asked what advice she might give to a young woman entertaining thoughts of becoming a coach's wife. "I'd also tell someone to have thick skin. I don't get on the Internet. You just have to let that [criticism] roll off your back.

"It's so much fun. You get to know the players and being involved in the recruiting process you get to know the families, and it's so neat, especially having boys. The boys look up to these football players. They are their heroes. That is so cool to watch."

The former high school cheerleader is an avid tennis player, Little League mom and runner. She also likes kickboxing to keep in shape.

Carol also enjoys participating in some of the opportunities that come in her role. She recently served as a judge in the UF Homecoming Pageant and is a regular at football games, usually joining Will on the field to celebrate wins with students and fans after games.

She also likes to stay active in the community, especially during the season when Will spends so much time away from the family.

"Will and I like to be selective. We are kind of private in our involvement in various charities and things like that,'' she said. "I'm very social and I enjoy that aspect of being a head coach's wife.

"It's just been funny to go out to dinner with the family. Someone will come up and ask for Will's autograph and the kids are like, 'Why do they want daddy's autograph? Mommy, why don't they ever want your autograph?' You get a little more attention from the community."

Prior to Will taking the UF job, the only time Carol remembers being in Gainesville was a quick stop during Will's time at Valdosta State. They were driving down Interstate 75 and exited so Muschamp could show her the house he lived in for several years in the 1980s when his father, Larry, was headmaster at Oak Hall.

With the Gators 8-1 and ranked No. 7 entering Saturday's home game against Louisiana, Carol is obviously enjoying this season more than her husband's 7-6 rookie season.

The fiery coach Florida fans see on the sidelines is much different from the one who comes home Saturday nights, the one who likes to grill out for family and friends, toss footballs with Jackson and Whit in the backyard and is basically "is pretty laid-back" according to Carol when he is away from football.

But come Saturday afternoons, the story changes.

"We say at our house when Will is jumping up and down and acting crazy on the sidelines, the boys and I say that he is having an EO -- an emotional outburst,'' Carol said. "The boys will come home and say, 'Daddy, you had some major EOs on the sideline.' "

She recalled a favorite story from their time at LSU, right after she had given birth to Jackson. Earlier that day, a landscaper worked on their yard. He asked to place a sign advertising his business on the front lawn.

"Sure, no problem,'' Carol told him.

The Tigers lost that day and when Will got home he wasn't in the best of moods.

Carol heard a ruckus outside.

"He's in the front yard just raising all kinds of Cain,'' she chuckles. "He thought it was a for-sale sign."

Instead of an upset fan, it was just a landscaper trying to drum up some business.

The for-sale sign came later when it was time for the next job.

"We have moved a lot,'' the head coach's wife said.

 

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