TAMPA — One day after burying his 79-year-old father, Florida coach Will Muschamp was back on the booster speaking circuit. Muschamp kept his obligation to speak to members of the Tampa and Pinellas County Gator clubs Monday night following his father's funeral in Georgia on Sunday.
"You just do your job," he said about his quick return. "It's good to get back. It's a tough, tough deal, but you've got to move forward. It's good to get back and get working."
Muschamp received a standing ovation from the crowd and promised fans that the changes under new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper should mean they won't have another 4-8 season. "I think we're talking about a season, not seasons, of frustration," he said.
When a young boy stood to ask, "How much are the Gators going to be improved?" Muschamp replied: "We better be improved a lot. My wife asks me the same thing every day."
Here are a few questions and answers from Muschamp on various topics:
Have the Gator Gatherings become more difficult following a 4-8 season?
Not so far, honestly. It was funny, my first year we went 7-6 and it was as positive as you can imagine going to speak. Then 11-2 (in 2012) and the way we ended the season (a 33-23 loss to Louisville), I had more negativity at the Gator Clubs in those situations. I think most Gator fans understand what we went through this year. They're not accepting it and neither am I. But they've been very good.
How do you change the negative outside perception?
I think you change it by winning. And that means you change it by preparing, having a great summer, having a great spring, making the appropriate changes in your program you feel like you need to make, and I think we've made those. … I think our players are excited about playing football. I think last year we lost some confidence and belief in what we were doing, offensively especially.
How is the health of the team?
Very good. Matt (Jones) and Alex Anzalone met with the orthopedists (Monday) and they'll be ready to go. Matt (knee) is far ahead of where we thought he would be at this time — months ahead of where we thought he would be at this time. Trenton Brown had a scope on his wrist, he's fine. And Jeff (Driskel) had a couple of screws removed Monday (after spring game). We're as healthy as we've been in a long time." (He later added freshman OL Nolan Kelleher may need back surgery).
FINAL WORD: “We've got 90 days until we report on Aug. 3 and I'm really looking forward to getting this thing going. It was unacceptable what we did in the fall, it's my responsibility to get it fixed and that's what's going to happen. … When your best players are good guys, you've got a chance. And right now our best players are good guys."
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]