SANDESTIN — His team finished 4-8 this past season and failed to make a bowl game for the first time since 1990. He has spent the past couple of months traveling the state trying to reassure a restless fan base.
But if Will Muschamp is feeling any extra pressure from the hot seat nearly every major sports publication has him sitting on, he's not showing it.
"I don't feel any different pressure at all," Muschamp said at the SEC spring meetings. "We didn't have a good year and it was very unfortunate in what happened, but I have complete confidence in where we are heading. … I feel real good about our football team heading into the fall. You've got to stay healthy, have the ball bounce your way and some obvious things, but I have a lot of confidence in where we are, what we're doing, no question."
Muschamp got an endorsement this week from former boss and mentor Nick Saban. "They're doing a really good job of recruiting, so they're adding new talent and other players that can probably contribute in a positive way," the Alabama coach said. "I think he'll do really, really well. Will is a fantastic competitor. He's a really mature guy. He doesn't let things bother him a lot when it comes to focusing on what needs to get done to have a good football team. I think he'll respond really well."
hurricane alert: Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said Wednesday there's "mutual interest" in playing Miami again. He said he spoke with Hurricanes athletic director Blake James briefly about organizing a neutral-site game that would probably would be played in Tampa or Orlando. The teams have played six times since 1987 — four regular-season games, including 2013, and twice in bowls.
CHANGING O'DOME: Foley said the athletic department is moving closer to its goal of raising $50 million for a renovation of the Stephen C. O'Connell Center, and he is hopeful construction can start at the end of the 2015 basketball season, and be completed by 2016 "in a perfect world." That means Tampa most likely will host some Gator games during the renovation.
SEC WOMEN IN FLORIDA: Commissioner Mike Slive announced Wednesday the 2016 SEC Women's Basketball Tournament will be held at the 15,000-seat Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. It is the first time the tournament will be held in the state. "It's exciting for the state of Florida and for Gator fans to have such a tremendous display of elite college women's basketball being played within a short drive of Gainesville," Florida coach Amanda Butler said. "With the 2015 Women's Final Four in Tampa and Jacksonville's commitment to having the 2016 SEC tournament, as well as arranging for additional games to be played in the area, it's fantastic for the sport, our conference and the Gators."
NO PROMISES: Billy Donovan's name continues to surface as a candidate for NBA jobs. Although happy in Gainesville, he said he can't promise he'll stay forever. "All I can say is I love Florida, I'm happy here, Jeremy's been great, the school's been great to me," he said. "But at the same point, some of the NBA stuff, as I've said before, is intriguing in a lot of ways — the basketball part of it. That's not to say that I'm unhappy here; that's not the case at all. … I've seen a lot of coaches over the years come out and say, 'No, no, no, no, I'm not going anywhere, I'm not going anywhere,' and then all of a sudden they go somewhere and it's like, 'Well, this guy is a complete liar.' I don't want to get into that situation."
Information from Times wires was used in the report.