Longtime friends Muschamp, Saban to meet on opposite sidelines tonight
Wiil Muschamp was a young assistant coach trying to make his way in the business when fellow coaching friends introduced him to then-LSU coach Nick Saban.
Muschamp went on to work for Saban at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins.
Eleven years after their first chance encounter, Muschamp and Saban will meet on opposite sidelines tonight - Muschamp now a head coach as well.
When Florida and Alabama meet tonight at 8 in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, the protegee and the mentor will square off with major implications for both on the line.
Both men have downplayed tonight's meeting tonight, but have openly expressed their mutual respect and admiration for each other.
“I have great respect for Nick (Saban) and the job he does,'' Muschamp said. :I probably wouldn’t be standing here today if it weren’t for the opportunity he gave me at LSU to be a position coach and then the coordinator. Philosophically, we are on the same page about what we want to be defensively and from an identity standpoint. He does a great job of managing his program top to bottom from recruiting, his philosophy, offense, defense, special teams and I have great respect for that. When you turn the game film on, you see a physically tough football team that plays with fundamentals; that’s what he is and that’s what he preaches every day – it certainly carries over on film who they are and what they are. There is no advantage. He knows me as well as I know him. There is no advantage in this game.”
Saban said he hasn't talked to Muschamp this week, simply because he never talks to opposing coaches during the week of a game. But he said he knew early on there was something special about the Gators' head coach - starting with their first informal meeting.
"Sometimes you meet somebody and you really get a good feel for them and Will just was a real good person,'' Saban said. "Real genuine, and you could tell he was hard working and had a sort of special intensity about him in terms of what he wanted to do and a passion for football and how important it was to him. That first impression really held true in this case and it's pretty obvious based on the career he's had and what he's done so far as a head coach all those things are correct.''
Muschamp discusses his relationship with Saban below: