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Saturday December 11, 2010One-Time Gainesville Resident Will Muschamp Returns To Coach Florida Gators

Gainesville, Fla.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The wait is finally over for Will Muschamp. But instead of Texas, Muschamp is coming home to take over at Florida.

Muschamp, who has spent the past three seasons as defensive coordinator at Texas and was tabbed the Longhorns’ coach-in-waiting in 2008, has been hired to replace Urban Meyer as the 23rd head coach in Florida football history.

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley finalized the deal with the 39-year-old Muschamp on Saturday afternoon. Muschamp will be the second-youngest coach in the SEC behind Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, 38.

“This is a dream come true to be the head coach of the Florida Gators,” said Muschamp, who lived in Gainesville for 10 years growing up. “I grew up watching the Gators and whatever other SEC team was on television.

“I have great memories watching SEC football with my father on Saturdays and playing football in the back yard with my two brothers right here in Gainesville.”

A four-year letterman at safety in college, the 1994 University of Georgia graduate immediately embarked on a coaching career after his playing career with the Bulldogs concluded. Muschamp began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Auburn in 1995 and after later stops at West Georgia, Eastern Kentucky and Valdosta State, he returned to the SEC in 2001 when former LSU coach Nick Saban hired him as linebackers coach.

Coach Muschamp is someone we targeted from the beginning and he is the guy we wanted,’’ Foley said. “He is the only person we met with and the only person we offered the job to.”

Muschamp was promoted to LSU’s defensive coordinator in 2002 and helped the Tigers win the 2003 national championship on a staff that also included Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher as offensive coordinator.

Muschamp developed a reputation as one of the league’s top recruiters while at LSU, something Meyer quickly learned after arriving at UF in 2004.

“He’s a tremendous recruiter,’’ Meyer said. “I have bumped into him many times over the years on the road while on recruiting trips.’’

Muschamp spent four seasons on Saban’s staff at LSU and followed him to the NFL for one season as Saban’s assistant coach for defense with the Miami Dolphins in 2005. Muschamp returned to the SEC in 2006 as defensive coordinator at Auburn, where he was a finalist for the 2007 Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach.

In five seasons in the SEC, Muschamp’s defenses finished ranked in the nation’s top 10 every season.

By that time, Muschamp was considered one of the game’s bright young coaching minds and he left Auburn for Texas to serve as Mack Brown’s defensive coordinator. Brown and Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds were so impressed with Muschamp – and with his name linked with several open jobs – Texas made Muschamp the highest-paid assistant coach in the country in November 2008 and named him the heir to Brown.

“We all agreed that Will was young, he was a tremendous football coach, he loves what he’s doing on defense right now, so we could make him the highest-paid defensive coordinator in the country,’’ Brown said prior to the 2010 BCS Championship Game. “You see so many drops with change, and you’re never sure what the right mix is. We all thought Will was the right guy with our staff to continue and build at Texas.’’

During his three-year stint at Texas, the Longhorns led the nation with 119 sacks over that span and ranked in the top 10 nationally in several other major categories, including allowing opponents to rush for 96.7 yards a game (fourth). In the 2009 and 2010 NFL drafts, Muschamp had a combined eight players drafted – seven in the first four rounds and two first-rounders in Brian Orakpo and Earl Thomas.

Prior to facing his former assistant in last year’s BCS title game, Saban said Muschamp quickly earned his respect for the way he showed up ready to work each day.

“I think Will has made his own mark in this profession in terms of what he’s done with what he’s accomplished, and we’re proud of him, and we’re happy for him,’’ Saban said. “And I know he’s going to be a great head coach when he gets that opportunity someday.’’

Foley is thankful that Muschamp has decided to return to Gainesville take over for Meyer, who announced on Wednesday that he is stepping down after the Gators face Penn State in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 in Tampa.

“We are thrilled to have Coach Muschamp lead our football program,” Foley said. “When we started the search for our next head coach we wanted a coach who was familiar with the Southeastern Conference. We wanted a candidate who was a relentless recruiter and was familiar with recruiting in the state of Florida.

“We wanted a candidate who was high energy and had been on the big stage. We wanted a candidate who was respected by his players and his peers and we wanted someone who had a passion for the University of Florida. Coach Muschamp is all of those things and more. He is a grounded family man with a wonderful wife and two children and we welcome them into our Gator family.”

The son of a high school football coach, Muschamp spent a decade living on N.W. 22nd Street in Gainesville. His family relocated to Rome, Ga., before he finished high school. Muschamp has been around college football his entire life. His father played at North Carolina and older brothers Pat and Mike played center and quarterback and Army and Duke, respectively.

Muschamp, who considered walking on at Florida, turned down appointments at West Point and Annapolis to enroll at Georgia become the Bulldogs’ defensive co-captain his senior season.

He is ready for his first head-coaching job and excited to lead the program he once considered playing for.

“I’m eager to get to work and represent this great institution,” Muschamp said. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity given to me by President Dr. Bernie Machen and Athletic Director Jeremy Foley. I promise to bring a tremendous amount of passion and energy to work every day and my goal is to have our team bring the same type of attitude in everything we do both on and off the field.

“I want our team to play hard, with relentless effort and with toughness. We want to make the Gator Nation proud.”

COACHING EXPERIENCE

2008-10

Texas (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers)

2006-07

Auburn (Defensive Coordinator/Secondary)

2005

Miami Dolphins (Assistant Head Coach for Defense)

2002-04

LSU (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers)

2001

LSU (Linebackers)

2000

Valdosta State (Defensive Coordinator)

1999

Eastern Kentucky (Secondary)

1998

West Georgia (Secondary)

1995-96

Auburn (Graduate Assistant)

 

THE WILL MUSCHAMP FILE

Age:

39

Birthdate:

August 3, 1971

Hometown:

Rome, Ga.

Education:

1994 – Bachelor’s degree (Georgia); 1996 – Master’s degree (Auburn)

Family:

Married to Carol Muschamp (formerly Davis). Has two sons: Jackson (9) and Whit (7)

 

BOWL GAMES AS A COACH

2010

BCS National Championship

Texas

2009

Fiesta Bowl

Texas

2007

Chick-Fil-A

Auburn

2007

Cotton

Auburn

2005

Capital One

LSU

2004

Sugar/BCS Championship

LSU

2003

Cotton

LSU

2002

Sugar

LSU

1996

Independence

Auburn

1995

Outback

Auburn

 

BOWL GAMES AS A PLAYER

1993

Citrus

Georgia

1991

Independence

Georgia

 

MUSCHAMP NOTABLES

·         He is the second-youngest head coach in the SEC (Dan Mullen is 38).

·         Had a 17-inch steel rod inserted in his leg after breaking his tibia and fibula as a junior on his high school baseball team

·         Keeps the steel rod in a shadowbox in his office to remind players about overcoming adversity

·         Visited Florida as a senior in high school in hopes of earning a chance to walk on to the football team

·         Father, Larry, played football at North Carolina and later coached football in Rome, Ga.

·         Oldest brother, Mike, played football at Duke and is now a high school coach in Atlanta, Ga.

·         Older brother, Pat, was an offensive lineman at West Point

·         Was on LSU staff with Jimbo Fisher and Derek Dooley under Nick Saban

·         Was awarded a scholarship at Georgia in the spring of his redshirt season

·         Was teammates with Alabama Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart at Georgia

·         Also was on same staff with Smart at Valdosta State

·         Graduated from Darlington High School in Georgia, lettering in football (four years), basketball (three years), track (four years) and baseball (four years).

 

Will Muschamp becomes one of 12 different current Gator head coaches who entered their first season at UF with five or fewer previous years as a collegiate head coach:

Sport

Head Coach

Prior Experience

As a Gator Head Coach

Baseball

Kevin O’Sullivan

None

2007-08 was his first year; 2010 NCAA College World Series & SEC Champions

Men’s Basketball

Billy Donovan

2 years

2006 & 2007 NCAA Champions

Women’s Basketball

Amanda Butler

2 years

2007-08 was first year; postseason all three years, NCAA Tourney in ’09

Football

Will Muschamp

None

Hired on December, 11, 2010

Women’s Golf

Jan Dowling

None

2010 NCAA East Regional

Gymnastics

Rhonda Faehn

None

No. 1 ranking in 2007; third at 2007, fourth in ’08 & ’09, fifth at ’10 NCAAs

Soccer

Becky Burleigh

5 years

1998 NCAA Champions; 11 SEC titles

Softball

Tim Walton

3 years

2008, ’09, ’10 NCAA College World Series; Runner-Up in ’09

Swimming & Diving

Gregg Troy

None

2010 NCAA W-Swimming National Champions; 11 & 10 straight top-10 NCAA finishes for men & women

Women’s Tennis

Roland Thornqvist

5 years

2003 NCAA Champions, 2010 NCAA Runner-Up

Track & Field

Mike Holloway

None

2010 NCAA M-Indoor National Champions; ’10 NCAA M-Outdoor Runner-Up, W-Outdoor third, W-Indoor fourth; 2009 NCAA M-Indoor & Outdoor Runner-Up; 2004 & 2005 NCAA Men’s Indoor & Outdoor Runner-Up

Volleyball

Mary Wise

4 years

19 SEC Titles; 7 Final Fours

 

Former Defensive Coordinators turned Head Coaches in the AP Top 25

Gene Chizik, Auburn

Texas 2005-06 (co-defensive coordinator); Auburn 2002-04; UCF 1998-2001; Stephen F. Austin 1996-97

Chip Kelly, Oregon

Johns Hopkins 1993

Gary Patterson, TCU

TCU 1998-2000; New Mexico 1996-97; Sonoma (Calif.) State 1989-91; Cal Lutheran 1987

Brett Bielema, Wisconsin

Wisconsin 2004-05; Kansas State 2002-03 (co-defensive coordinator)

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

Ohio State 2001-03; Youngstown State 1986-90; Butler (Kan.) Junior College 1982

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

Florida 1996-98; Kansas State 1991-95 (co-defensive coordinator)

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

Murray State 1979-80; The Citadel 1977-78

Nick Saban, Alabama

Cleveland Browns (NFL) 1991-94; Michigan State 1983-87

Bo Pelini, Nebraska

LSU 2005-07; Oklahoma 2004 (co-defensive coordinator); Nebraska 2003

Kyle Whittingham, Utah

Utah 1995-2004; Idaho State 1992-93; College of Eastern Idaho 1987

Greg McMackin, Hawaii

Hawaii 2007, 1999; Texas Tech 2000-02; Seattle Seahawks (NFL) 1995-98; Miami (Fla.) 1993-94; Navy 1992; Utah 1990-91

Randy Edsall, Connecticut

Georgia Tech 1998

 

 

 

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