Will Muschamp comes back to Georgia — as a Gator

Will Muschamp is a Gator now (the Cujo eyes, caused by a flash, notwithstanding).

Will Muschamp may have barked as a Bulldog but he's all Gator now as the Florida coach.

A young, pretty girl sitting near the front of the room had a question for the Florida coach.

“Coach, I’m getting married soon and he’s a Georgia fan and …”

“That’s not my fault,” Will Muschamp said, playing to the crowd.

“My wedding is on the same day as the Florida-Georgia game,” she continued. “I was wondering: Can you guarantee Florida will win?”

Muschamp, the native of Rome, a long-time Georgia resident and former Bulldogs safety, smiled.

“I certainly can,” he said (and then he turned in my direction and alerted the crowd that this pronouncement almost certainly would be used in the local newspaper).

This should end any lingering debate about whether Will Muschamp has divided loyalties.

The annual meeting of the Atlanta Gator Club was held Thursday night. Atlantic Station was crawling with reptiles. More than 360 Florida fans crammed into a hotel ballroom, the largest turnout in years, to greet their new leader.

The Atlanta Gator Club was thoroughly entertained by their new coach.

Muschamp was in Georgia, but the Atlanta Gator Club would protect him.

This was the safe room for Muschamp. But outside the walls, he’s same guy who was branded “traitor” or “Benedict Arnold” by some hard-line Bulldogs fans who believe once you’ve worn the “G” on your helmet, any career movement – especially to the mother of SEC rivals – is borderline sacrilegious. (Or over the border.)

“I’m loyal to who signs my checks,” Muschamp said earlier. “All of that other stuff, I don’t get into. In our

You might've thought you were lost walking in Atlantic Station.

You might've thought you were lost walking in Atlantic Station.

profession you’re loyal to the people you work for. I’ll do the best job I can for the Gator nation.”

Go easy, folks. The man’s gotta earn a living, you know.

It may have been a shock in Athens when Muschamp, the official coach-in-waiting at Texas for Mack Brown and a possible unofficial coach-in-waiting for Georgia, was tabbed as Urban Meyer’s replacement at Florida.

But it shouldn’t have been. Yes, he lived in Rome up until age 5, and then he returned before his ninth-grade year. But during that period in between, orange blood ran through blue veins. He walked to Gators games as a kid. He watched Wilber Marshall. Even when he went to high school in Rome, he was a Florida fan.

Fact is, Muschamp might never have stepped foot on the Georgia campus if he hadn’t broken his leg while playing in high school.

“All of the big schools backed off,” he said.

His choices: Enroll at West Point or try to walk-on at Florida or Georgia.

“My dad was a school teacher,” he said. “The [cost of] in-state education was a factor.”

So if he didn’t break his leg or his father was a surgeon, he would’ve attended Florida?

“Hah — I’d rather not play what-if,” he said.

Muschamp waited 15 years for a head coaching job. So far, he wears it well.

The fact he was one of the nation’s best defensive coaches at Texas, LSU and Auburn doesn’t guarantee success. Even he acknowledges that he’s in a honeymoon period with Gators fans. (“Everybody has been great. But we haven’t played a game yet.”).

But if he doesn’t succeed, it won’t be for a lack of confidence. He brought in Charlie Weis to run his offense. Most new head coaches would balk at such a move, believing the former Notre Dame coach and New England and Kansas City offensive coordinator might be scheming behind his back for the top job.

“I have confidence in myself. I want the people I hire to have tremendous confidence in themselves,” he said.

Last month, Muschamp kicked his best player, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, off the team after his third arrest (and second in three months for marijuana). It was a stunning move at a program that had its share of legal issues between SEC and BCS championships under Meyer.

“I didn’t look at it as sending a message early,” Muschamp said. “I look at everything as an isolated situation. Each player will have to [act] right.”

He has learning the hard way of the demands of being a head coach  and fielding endless advice from fans (“My email works, I can tell you that.”). But this feels like Utopia.

After the questions, he planned on flying back to Austin, Texas. His family hasn’t moved yet and his 5-year-old is graduating from kindergarten Friday. Then it will be back to Gainesville.

“As coaches, we move around so much,” he said. “Home is where the house is.”

That’s not in Georgia anymore.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend meat Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

477 comments Add your comment

R dawg

May 19th, 2011
9:30 pm

Florida’s got a bunch of issues at QB, Oline, DB, WR—–Ga beats UF in Jax and wins the SEC east—mark it down!!! Richt will own muschamp for years.

It's springtime in Atlanta

May 19th, 2011
9:33 pm

CW could not win big in ND so why will he win big in FL?

Worm

May 19th, 2011
9:35 pm

Jeff, Muschamp has a George O’Leary type potential scandal in his past and if ever revealed, He’ll never coach a game at Florida..I was there!

Joe Tess Fish House

May 19th, 2011
9:39 pm

2 blogs on this looser?

R dawg Tormentor

May 19th, 2011
9:59 pm

R Dawg, even Zook owned the leg humpers, go back to sleep. And by the way Murray is a midget who has never beaten a team with a winning record.

R dawg Tormentor

May 19th, 2011
10:00 pm

R dawg even loser Zook owned the leg humpers and Murray has never beaten a team with a winning record. Go back to sleep Rip Van Winkle.

Deep in enemy territory

May 19th, 2011
10:00 pm

Great speaker. Very impressive and was much more entertaining than Urban was. What was more hilarious was the not one, but two direct insults to UGA. FROM A DOG!

UGA fans keep dreaming. You couldn’t beat us when we had our worst team in a decade. What makes you think you are going to beat us now without your best offensive weapon, a left tackle with chronic knee issues, and your 3 of your top 4 leading tacklers. I would be more worried about beating the chickens and the Ol’ Ball Coach if I were you…

October 29 the Gators will make it four in a row and 19 out of 22 against the Pups. And it will be so much sweeter knowing that our coach turned his back on you to do it. GO GATORS

Duluth Rick

May 19th, 2011
10:01 pm

He also said, that Florida j=doesn’t have athletes in “developmental studies” for 4 years like some schools. YES, he knows Georgia very well. And Georgia couldn’t beat us when we had Zook. No way they will beat Muschamp.

ga gator

May 19th, 2011
10:01 pm

It is going to get interesting the next 6 monts.

ufmatt

May 19th, 2011
10:08 pm

18 0f 21 coming in October. Beatdown by the Homeboy wearing the Orange and Blue.

Pago Pago DAWG

May 19th, 2011
10:27 pm

Who in the world would get married on a college football week-end!
We went to a wedding in Ann Arbor when Big Blue was playing at The Big House…..needless to say that marriage only lasted 1 year.

Big ALbany Dawg

May 19th, 2011
10:38 pm

“I’m loyal to who signs my checks,” Muschamp said”. WOW, he doesn’t even drink his own koolaid! He actually just told his guys, “sorry, but they paid me to say you’d beat Georgia”.

Amnesiac

May 19th, 2011
10:42 pm

Echoes of Lane Kiffin here?

Fl > Ga

May 19th, 2011
10:43 pm

19 of 22—this win will be easier than ever. Weis will have the UF offense lighting it up by the ga game. Fla wins in a beatdown—bet the house.

SEC FAN>

May 19th, 2011
10:48 pm

The UGa-UF game just got better with this hire in my opinion….

Dan

May 19th, 2011
10:49 pm

Muschamp is a traitorous bast…………! Piss on em!

Danny Jack

May 19th, 2011
11:05 pm

That georgia dream team is just that….A BAD DREAM!!! GO GATORS!!!!! MUSCHAMP IS A LOYAL GATOR!!!

bardawg

May 19th, 2011
11:24 pm

Hope you gayturds enjoy your time with Judas Muschamp ,as that little whinny prostitute may very well sell you lizards out too !

bardawg

May 19th, 2011
11:26 pm

How bout Muschamp is a traitorous creep whose middle name is of Korean origin , HO !

catdawg

May 19th, 2011
11:35 pm

R Dawg I am as a big of UGA fan as anybody. However, I don’t think i would be running my mouth about CMR owning Muschamp. I mean come on the odds certainly have not been in our favor the last 20 years. Let’s just go down there to Jax and win one and then maybe we can get a quite confidence going. Until then it is best to just let our play speak louder than our words. GO DAWGS!!

godoggo

May 19th, 2011
11:43 pm

Worm

May 19th, 2011
9:35 pm

So, Worm…..can we buy a Vowel ? Throw us a bone ?

Wright

May 20th, 2011
12:05 am

I’ll bet Muschamp won’t coddle coaches who can’t cut it. And if he does Foley sure won’t and they will find a winner. That’s the difference in Florida and Georgia, one expects to win and is not content with anything less. The other is just happy being a middle of the pack team and dreaming about 1980.

Ed Q.

May 20th, 2011
12:06 am

So Worm, reveal it. The suspense is terrible…

Chomp

May 20th, 2011
12:11 am

His George O’Leary type scandal would be that he claims he has a college degree. HE WENT TO GEORGIA. That degree is useless!

Bubber

May 20th, 2011
12:29 am

@R Dog…you are right…UGA wins this year by default…only to get crushed by the West opponent in the SECCG. But don’t get too cocky…UGA has had the same coach for how many years? And he has how many wins against 4 UF coaches? 2? Ugh…Kirby Smart is your next coach but it’s gonna be 2013 because Richt will earn some more time with his epic SEC East win this year…LOL! Kick UF while it is down this year ‘cuz it’s the only chance you’ll get.

Chomp Hader

May 20th, 2011
12:29 am

The last time I was in Gainesville , FL and drove through the UF campus, I had to roll my windows up because they were throwing college degrees to everyone who drives by. Which means I have several useless UF degrees… heck I could not even give them back!!!

Vince Lombardi

May 20th, 2011
1:16 am

Hey Schultzie, what’s with this Georgia “G” stuff? That’s the Green Bay Packers oval “G”. Lot’s of Packers fans down here in this state.

Go Packers!!!!

TW

May 20th, 2011
1:19 am

Yeah, UGA has not had development studies since the 1980s. Zook did beat UGA twice in three years. Hardly “owning” UGA. Things are going to be ugly for Muschamp with UGA having an off weekend prior to the GA-FL game. Yeah, we had an off weekend in 2007, too. Wonder what kind of buy out is in the Zooker’s, I mean Willie’s contract?

Chuck UGA

May 20th, 2011
1:25 am

Will Muschamp is still one of my favorite Dawgs. Trust me, he doesn’t regret his UGA years. However, UF fans are delusional if they think they can just plug him in as head coach and expect similar results as Meyer. The guy has NEVER been a head coach. I’ll make a guarantee…he will be .500 at best against UGA during his career. Book it and bring it up later when I am proven correct.

Tommy Tuberville

May 20th, 2011
1:27 am

Hey Gators…my boy Will, he owned ya’ll pretty good a couple of times, but, conversely, he SUCKED at LSU and for us against Richt’s offenses when he had good QBs playing…you better hope as Head Coach he doesn’t lay those same eggs…and also, don’t think he won’t have a hand in those defenses…

DS

May 20th, 2011
1:37 am

So Coach Richt and Coach Fox are in Dalton at a HUGE bulldog meeting, and the HOMETOWN paper is at a GATOR FUNCTION??? thats what i thought….. the AJC SUCKS!

Red Dog 77

May 20th, 2011
1:54 am

I have a feeling “my” BULLDOGS are going to dial-up a little Gathers/ Jenkins, and let the BIG DAWGS eat……as in LBs when we play in Jacksonville this year……..I doubt we have to score more than 17 points to make this game look like a laugher…………I know, I know, I know……..you Gators have “owned” us for some time…………..But 2011, my reptillian friends is a brand new year…………A word to a wise Gator fan…………Worry!…………Regards, RED

Outsider

May 20th, 2011
1:57 am

You Georgia fans are so ridiculous! You can’t stand it! National Champs in April and where the hell are you in November/December?

borndawgfan

May 20th, 2011
2:13 am

CMR and the water girl,yall cannot let Muschamp punk yall out like that! UGA has to BEAT the lizards! No exceptions! I’m hoping that CMR and the coaching staff are taking that Muschamp guarantee personal..BEAT UF or else!

Richt`s Hammer

May 20th, 2011
6:33 am

Another year, another loss to Floride. Who to blame this year? Choakdawg of course.

Florida 55 Dawgs 8

Dog2

May 20th, 2011
7:12 am

Remember, we pasted 80 pointsin 2 years on Will Muschumps defense when he was with Auburn, time an seris is changing for you mullet wearing gayturds!

King Gator

May 20th, 2011
7:18 am

I hope Geogia enjoys it’s annual beating.. Go Gators!!

Al

May 20th, 2011
7:20 am

I bet Atlantic Station has never seen so many jorts!

King Gator

May 20th, 2011
7:23 am

I’ll make a guarantee…he will be .500 at best against UGA during his career. Book it and bring it up later when I am proven correct.

****
the Gators could be .500 with no coach v. UGA – I love the offseason, when the Dawg fans are all optimstic and talking smack. By the end of Sept they’re all beaten down and turning on each other, CMR and the team. The circle of Dawg football annually, got to love it; well that and the Gators pounding the Pups year after year in Jax. Go Gators!

freedawg

May 20th, 2011
7:35 am

that Texas D was bad ass last year, hope he can briing the same results to UF. CMR and team put points on his D when he was at Auburn too. Charlie Weis is awesome as long as Tom Brady is his QB, you gayturds still have the dude that sucked last year right?

Beast from the East

May 20th, 2011
7:37 am

Looking forward to the season. Lots of questions to be answered and no one knows for sure how it will all turn out. That’s why they play the games.
Go Gators!

Buckeye

May 20th, 2011
8:00 am

dogs will show up for one quarter until FLA lays a beatdown on’ em

Isaiah, The Annointed One II, will fumble on the goaline in fine uga tradition to take any wind out of their Jacksonville sail.

atlgator

May 20th, 2011
8:03 am

Hee hee. Zook owned GA and he was God-awful. I have a feeling Muschamp won’t suffer too much at the hands of UGA.

another loss fo the dawgs

May 20th, 2011
8:04 am

richt cant beat the zooker….so it don’t matter who coaches florida…..

todd grantham can’t stop bobby petrino’s offense, and the gators hired one of the best offensive minds on planet earth.

the gators reload, and we still have st. mark and his christian home for wayward boys.

georgia goes 6-6 this year or worse. book it.

Hankie Aron

May 20th, 2011
8:17 am

No way another

Dean

May 20th, 2011
8:18 am

I do like that he says he’s only loyal to who signs his paycheck. That kind of attitude is exactly what I would wish for the U of F because it means he isn’t truly invested in the system and would leave in a heartbeat if a better opportunity arose. Say want you want about Richt but the man works for more than a paycheck and he’s much more respectable right off the bat. Go Dawgs!!

Dean

May 20th, 2011
8:19 am

And, as far as ex-UGA grads we should be much more worried about Derek Dooley. He’s the one who is going to excell.

Not Don Waddell

May 20th, 2011
8:20 am

Finally, UF has hired the dolt to turn the Cocktail Party back to the way it’s supposed to be-with the Dawgs winning on a nearly annual basis. We have waited a long, long time for this, and Jeremy Foley has finally delivered.

Everyone thought Zook would be it, but he was too incompetent to stick around, and he carried Spurrier’s luck. Karma is a mofo, and the Dawgs have been very patient, but now the time has come. Barring the end of the universe tomorrow, UGA will take 7 of the next 10 in Jacksonville. Book it. Finally!

The Obvious

May 20th, 2011
8:21 am

Muschamp is just stating the obvious, namely that he’s a better coach than Richt, and that he has players with more character and talent than the sorry punks in Athens.

WGAS

May 20th, 2011
8:24 am

You know, when Muschamp was d-coordinating at Auburn the one team they couldn’t seem to stop was the Georgia Bulldogs. Either it was a fix or he just couldn’t handle it. This may bode well for UGA fans in the coming years…