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Will Muschamp: 'Nothing but fond memories' of time at Florida

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) ALBA101
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) ALBA101
Published Jul. 15, 2016

HOOVER, Ala. — South Carolina coach Will Muschamp walked into the hotel for the final session of SEC media days and said the obvious:

"There's only one Steve Spurrier in life, and I'm not it."

Florida fans know that well after the four rough seasons in Gainesville led to Muschamp's firing. The Gamecocks gave Muschamp another chance, which includes his unenviable assignment of replacing the retired Spurrier after last season's 3-9 record.

"Coach Spurrier and his staff have brought this program to relevance nationally," Muschamp said, "and that's what we plan on building on."

Muschamp repeated what he said earlier this summer at the spring meetings in Destin: He's proud of the defense and special teams UF had in his tenure, and the offense's struggles are his responsibility.

That offensive trouble made Muschamp's decision to hire former UF offensive coordinator Kurt Roper a surprise, but Muschamp said he was impressed with Roper's history of developing quarterbacks, including Florida's Treon Harris.

"I thought he did a really good job of giving us an opportunity late in the year as far as that's concerned," Muschamp, 44, said.

Muschamp insists that he doesn't feel bitter about his run at UF. He called retiring athletic director Jeremy Foley a friend and praised the performance of his old boss.

"I had a great run at Florida," Muschamp said. "I have nothing but fond memories. I don't get into the negative part of how it ended. That's part of our profession. Things didn't work, and a decision was made.

"Not just myself, but our staff had a tremendous positive impact on the University of Florida, and I wish it would have ended differently."

OLE MISS-FSU IN ORLANDO: Mississippi's season opener against Florida State is technically a neutral-site game in Orlando, but the Rebels are treating the Labor Day matchup at Orlando's Camping World Stadium as if it were a road SEC game. That includes practicing with a silent cadence to prepare for the noise of what should be a Seminoles-heavy crowd.

"The good thing about playing a top-five team like Florida State in the opener, it's not hard to grab the attention of your players or your staff," Rebels coach Hugh Freeze said. "They understand the task that is at hand. They understand that challenge quite clearly."

BATON ROUGE SHOOTING: LSU coach Les Miles opened his news conference by talking about the recent police shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, a case that has drawn national headlines.

Miles said his program has had multiple team meetings since the shooting, and the team has talked about how players can use their platforms to affect change. Miles also wants to see his program become a point of unity in town.

"I hope that the Tigers do their best and that happens in Baton Rouge," Miles said, "because Baton Rouge is home."

SEC PREDICTIONS: The media's poll predicts Florida to finish second in the East, behind Tennessee. The Volunteers had 225 first-place votes in the division; the Gators had 57, with five media members predicting UF to win the league.

Alabama is the favorite to win the West, and the league, followed by LSU.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Miles on being introduced as the dean of SEC coaches: "I should probably get like a robe, right? And maybe a hat that maybe sits to the side."

MISCELLANY: Freeze revealed nothing new about the NCAA's ongoing investigation at Ole Miss but continued to defend his program's core values and actions. … Muschamp apparently broke a finger during one halftime tirade last season when he was Auburn's defensive coordinator. "I don't remember the situation," he said. "I black out sometimes." … South Carolina sophomore Lorenzo Nunez remains in the starting quarterback mix but will also play some at receiver.

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