Tag Archives: Will Muschamp

Memo to The Gator Nation: It’s safe to come out!

Gator Nation is smiling. You could see their pearly whites all over the Amway Center last weekend, as you no doubt will tonight in the first round of the South Regional in Memphis when Florida tips off against UCLA.

By BUDDY MARTIN

I know I speak for the majority of the repatriated Gator fans today who feel all blissed out about the recent return to the Glory Days. It’s like a fog is lifting as this Florida basketball team blue-collars its way back to the top of college hoops. The orange and blue flags are no longer flying half-mast.

It’s Great To Be … Well, you remember how that chant used to go.

And yeah, as the Ol’ Ball Coach used to say, maybe the Good Lord is smiling on The Gator Nation again.

Billy’s boys have brightened our mood and hope is abounding among Gator fans that somehow, by osmosis, that winning feeling might even return to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium some day.

To be honest, some Gator fans are afraid to be too optimistic about basketball, as if they didn’t deserve it. At times it has gotten scary: First the No. 1 ranking — some of us even feared it might be a jinx – and then on to what has become an almost annual trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Timed perfectly to ease the sting of the downturn in Gator football fortunes.

So now they offer up this collective prayer to Billy Donovan: “Pulease, pulease coach Donovan – don’t let this winning feeling go away just yet!”

While maybe the basketball success is not a total panacea for an ailing football program – a program that seems to be a lot more blue these days than bright orange – it sure helps to temporarily obscure the memory of the dreaded numbers 4 and 8.

You’ve heard the old joke going around:

 

Q. What did Will Muschamp do at Florida that Billy Donovan couldn’t?

A. Turned us into a basketball school.

 

OK, a bit cheap perhaps. But point taken.

The irony of the aforementioned joke is that the basketball success at Florida has drawn the attention of the coach many people believe to be one of the top three in America. But it’s a football coach: New England’s Bill Belichick.

Last Saturday, there was Belichick at the Amway Center, white Gator visor and all, sitting with his lady friend at the Florida-Pitt game, cheering for – are you ready for this? – the basketball coach at Florida and his team.

So does that make UF a basketball school? Or a football school that just happens to be enjoying a good year in basketball?

You decide.

I have been vocal about my disappointment at Muschamp’s lack of progress – even called for his dismissal BEFORE the loss to Georgia Southern —  but I now must say Will should get a stay of execution  this year to prove he can – or can’t – get it done again at a championship level.

The worst-to-first SEC turnaround at Auburn gives Gator fans some modicum of encouragement. And Donovan’s persistence after a rocky start this season proves that the right coach with the right plan can eventually get it done.

The fact that Donovan signed a new deal in February and that Muschamp is on a short lease may or may not impact that argument. With Billy’s bonuses this year he will be just a tad under $4 million, which some would say was “football coach money.” Worth every penny and then some.

Nobody begrudges Donovan the dough after a fourth straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen and a realistic quest for a third national championship. He is one of three SEC coaches to win 400 games and ranks second all-time in wins at an SEC school behind Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp (875) after No. 449 over Pittsburgh. A nice round 450 tonight over UCLA would look good on his resume.

As for whether Florida is a football or basketball school, who cares?

Bear Bryant once said he found out that answer at Kentucky when at the end of the football season in Lexington he was given a cigarette lighter as a gift and Rupp got a Cadillac. This year at Florida, the car goes to the basketball coach.

Buddy Martin, host of the daily radio show “Buddy Martin’s Sports Page,” has written four books on Gator sports. Most recently “The Boys From Old Florida” was rereleased by Skyhorse Publishing. You may email him at buddyshow@aol.com

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Ten reasons why Muschamp should be fired. One reason he won’t.

By BUDDY MARTIN

Actually, I was hoping to sit this one out, because I’m on record as never having agreed with the hiring of Will Muschamp. I have no relationship, working or personal, with the Florida coach, so pardon my aloofness. Full disclosure, however: I have enjoyed both a working and personal relationship with the Gators’ last three coaches. So take what I am about to say with a grain of salt. I do feel impelled to finally comment. Callers to my radio show, Buddy Martin’s Sports Page, (5 p.m. Monday-Friday on WOCA.com and1370 AM/96.3 FM) won’t let me off the hook and neither will some of my friends on Facebook or Twitter. So here goes.

It’s getting perilously close to the time for Athletics Director Jeremy Foley to push the eject button on his embattled head football coach. By any standard, Muschamp must be labeled a failure. By Foley’s and Florida’s standards, an abject failure.

Matter of fact, Muschamp is one butt-whipping away by South Carolina and a drubbing from FSU from having somebody else put Foley’s finger on the eject button and pushing it for him. Given the above scenario, the decision to fire Muschamp might be out of the erstwhile AD’s otherwise capable hands.

The Gators lost more than a football game Saturday. They lost their dignity.

Getting pushed around and beaten by Vanderbilt for the first time in 23 years was bad enough; losing at home to the Commodores for the first time since 1945 was downright disgraceful, considering the difference in talent.

This was one more level down in a death spiral that began in the January Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville, after that “Fool’s Gold” 11-win season. Since that time Muschamp’s teams not only haven’t improved — they have gone backwards, losing their last four and six of the last 10.

Equally as devastating as the losses of games is the fact that the Gator Nation has lost its passion. Already swept up in a wave of apathy that seems to be eroding the fan bases of college football like a pack of termites, Gator fans are walking out early even if they show up in the first place. I know 50 or so devout fans who gave up their tickets this year which they’ve been buying for decades.

Now why would those expatriate fans ever want to come back?

They are fresh out of excuses in Gainesville.

Let’s not cop out with the injury card or the feeble buck-passing “empty cupboard” myth.

Muschamp was clearly not the right man for the job in the first place.

It’s time to cut your losses — in this case, literally — and just clean up the mess. Here’s are some reasons why:

Ten Reasons Why Muschamp Must Go

1. Florida’s brand has been severely damaged and a winning tradition erased. All the momentum gained more than two decades over rivals FSU, Georgia and Tennessee that was built up by the last three coaches has dissipated and Gators are back to square one.

2. Ron Zook’s record was better than Muschamp’s and Zook was fired before the season was over. Muschamp 23-14 for .629; Zook 22-13 for .662. In his entire six years, Urban Meyer only lost 15 games.

3. A tidal wave of Gator Nation discontent may have started before he arrived, but it has now reached epic proportion. It may be irreversible for the foreseeable future.

4. FSU’s remarkable season and the popularity of quarterback Jameis Winston has captured the imagination of many fans, which means major recruiting inroads to talent in Florida and the South.

5.The Seminoles will likely be playing for a national championship while the Gators are unlikely to even reach the lowest rung of their goals, to become “bowl eligible.”

6. The offense is dull and uninspiring. We knew that from the first game of the season, even when Jeff Driskell was playing. Baby Boomer Gators have seen this movie before: Starring Doug Dickey and or even Bob Woodruff.

7. This “empty cupboard” myth has gone too far. Urban Meyer’s last three classes and how ESPN ranked them nationally: 2008 — No. 4; 2009–No. 5; 2010–No. 1. So where did all that talent go? Worse yet, look for some major decommits and misses on the recruiting trail.

8. Will Muschamp wouldn’t know an offensive coordinator if you drew him a picture of one (see Charlie Weis fiasco). And anyway, he certainly can’t find one who enjoys wearing handcuffs.

9. What he lacked in coaching skills, Muschamp certainly hasn’t exactly made up for in social decorum. He got into a hissing contest with a Gator fan after the Georgia game. And while his petulant child-like tantrums may have been tamed him a little, the images of his meltdowns linger vividly in the minds of fans and player.

10. Finally, there’s no denying Muschamp’s DNA: He’s the long lost great, great grandson of Gen. Robert Neyland and great grand nephew of Bob Woodruff. He thinks defense wins games and proves that by putting most of his talent on that side of the ball. One step away from punting on third down.

And what’s the reason he won’t get fired? If Foley digs in, putting his job on the line to save his coach, but makes Muschamp fire some assistants as sacrificial lambs, the AD has enough respect from President Bernie Machen and key boosters to give him a mulligan. As far as I’m concerned, Foley is delaying the inevitable. But like I say — maybe I’m prejudice.Image

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