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New Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp stays in motion

“I have a little tunnel vision right now,” new Florida coach Will Muschamp says about his focus on improving the program.

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“I have a little tunnel vision right now,” new Florida coach Will Muschamp says about his focus on improving the program.

GAINESVILLE

For two months now, Coach Boom has been Coach Blur.

For eight weeks, Will Muschamp has been in a full sprint. From the moment he became the guy in charge of victories at the University of Florida, Muschamp has tried to squeeze 75 seconds into a minute and 100 minutes into an hour and 30 hours into a day. You've heard of the hurry-up offense? Lately, Muschamp has run a hurry-up everything.

Finally, he is sitting still.

Although, it should be said, he seems to fidget a little bit.

This is what you get when you give a guy the job of rebooting a football program. Muschamp is in charge of bringing back the energy, the passion and, most of all, the success of a program that fell from the list of the essentials last season. To put it bluntly, he has to make it matter again.

And so he has spent mornings watching tape and discussing schemes and watching tape and getting to know his team, and he has spent afternoons watching conditioning workouts (legal at this time of year) and recruiting for the future and talking about philosophies with his staff, and he has spent the evenings trying to evaluate the day and anticipate the next.

There is no telling how many hours he has worked or how many calls he has made or how many miles he has traveled. He sleeps in a hotel with his wife and two sons back in Austin, Texas, and the dots that need connecting do not end.

Yes, he has watched last year's game tapes. Yes, he knows his players on sight. Yes, he admits, he still needs a little work on the lyrics of the alma mater.

"I have a little tunnel vision right now," Muschamp says.

• On Florida's football program: "I think we have a good football team on campus. There wasn't a lot broken here."

• On the expectations of the job: "No one has higher expectations of what we want to do than me. Nobody is going to work harder to get that done than my staff and myself. We understand what's at stake … every day."

• On whether the Gators are now behind Florida State: "No."

It is Friday, Muschamp's two-month anniversary at Florida, and he sits at a conference table with a handful of columnists from around the state.

So far, it is fair to say Muschamp is not exactly a familiar voice yet.

Most new coaches arrive like John Wayne kicking in the saloon doors. They want everyone to know there is a new sheriff in town, and by golly, things are going to be different.

By contrast, Muschamp has been relatively quiet. Then again, what Muschamp says in February will have little to do with how he is judged. That's up to scoreboards in January.

"To me, the No. 1 priority is getting to know our team and recruiting," Muschamp said.

"Florida is a national brand. I don't need to go out and beat my chest about the University of Florida."

Yet in a position such as his, people want to hear.

• On a first-time coach having an offensive coordinator such as Charlie Weis, the former head coach at Notre Dame: "I'm pretty confident in my ability as a football coach. I don't really worry about that stuff. I heard Bear Bryant said one time he wanted to hire people who were smarter than him. Charlie Weis is going to call better offenses than I would."

• On the type of coach he'll be: "You have to play to your strengths. I want to be involved in coaching, involved in recruiting, involved with the players. I'm not a CEO. That's not my MO. I'm going to be involved on the field coaching the players."

• On the number of arrests Florida's team has had in recent seasons: "I wasn't here, so it's hard for me to comment on anything. But I think that's part of your evaluation process. You want to teach them about making good choices. All of those things you re-emphasize over and over and over. We're going to make some mistakes. But we're here to educate."

For a football coach, particularly for one where the fans show their teeth as often as Florida's, the feedback comes quickly.

For instance, the Gators — near the top of many recruiting lists during the Urban Meyer era -— were ranked 12th this year by Rivals.com. They were 18th by Scout.com. As with most football coaches, Muschamp has his own ratings.

"It's unbelievable," Muschamp said. "I told the story the other day about a guy who I respect in that industry, and he said, 'I don't understand why you don't like this player.' My comment was, 'He's not going to qualify.' The guy said, 'I didn't know about his grades.' I said, 'Well, he's also transferred 14 times.' He said, 'Well, I didn't know about that.' But the guy's got 1,400 stars by his name, so we all think he's going to be a great player.

"There are certain guys who fit what you do. And there are certain guys I can tell from talking to them on the phone that they're not going to fit what we do as far as work ethic, commitment. They're just not. Certain guys I know that their growth process is going to take longer than mine, and I don't have that much time."

As far as this year's recruiting, Muschamp did raise the ire of Lisa Brown, the mother of quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Brown didn't want her son to attend Florida, she said, because Muschamp never came to see her.

"I understand her frustration," Muschamp said. "I couldn't visit her by (NCAA) rule. She's fine now."

"She understands a lot better."

• On whether Brissett will play basketball at Florida: "I talked to (Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan), and he said Jacoby would be one of his 12. But we've talked to him about how difficult it is to play both, especially if you're a quarterback. We're going to leave that up to him."

• On running a pro-style offense: "I think players identify with what they see on Sunday afternoon. They see themselves in those positions, and they understand that a little bit more."

• On whether he would have preferred the Texas job to Florida's: "I'm glad I'm at Florida. I'm an SEC guy. This is coming home."

New Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp stays in motion 02/12/11 [Last modified: Sunday, February 13, 2011 12:52pm]

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