One of the more colorful college football coaches in the nation is none other than South Carolina’s Will Muschamp. The man is pretty emotional on the football field like few others and his intensity is almost legendary.
Muschamp grew up in Gainesville, Florida and Rome, Georgia which is where he graduated from high school. An all around athlete, Muschamp played everything but wasn’t quite talented enough for a Division 1 scholarship. He walked on for the Georgia Bulldogs and showed the same kind of intensity he shows on any Saturday in the Fall on the sidelines. He was a super intense position coach, then as a Defensive Coordinator and again as a head coach.
After his playing career and graduating from Georgia in 1994, Muschamp got on at Auburn as a
Graduate Assistant. There, he earned his master’s degree.
His first gigs were as a Defensive Backs coach, first at the University of West Georgia and then at Eastern Kentucky. His first Defensive Coordinator job was landed with the Blazers of Valdosta State University.
Nick Saban knows talent and he hired Will Muschamp as his Linebackers coach at LSU in 2001. A year later, the intensity filled Muschamp was promoted to Defensive Coordinator. While the Coordinator at LSU, their defense was incredible even topping the nation and the Tigers shared a national title with the USC Trojans in 2003.
When Saban left LSU for the Miami Dolphins, he took Muschamp with him.
The Saban and Muschamp act didn’t work as well in the NFL, but then again a great mullet isn’t grown in a few days, or months time. Muschamp was only with the Dolphins a season before returning to the college ranks as the Defensive Coordinator at Auburn under Tommy Tuberville.
Muschamp’s migratory days continued as they often do for rising coaches and he was only at Auburn two seasons. But, those were some impressive seasons as his defenses ranked amongst the best in the nation. He was so dynamic and energetic on the sidelines and he became a fan favorite.
The University of Texas and Mack Brown grabbed Muschamp from Auburn. It was big blow to the Tigers who had already lost former Auburn Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizek to the Longhorns and he helped them to win the national championship in the 2005 season. Chizek was hired by Iowa State as their head coach and then he was hired back at Auburn as the head guy and helped them to the 2010 national title.
At Texas, Muschamp directly replaced Chizek and the team didn’t miss a beat defensively.
Texas was so impressed with Muschamp that he became something of a cult figure and was soon named Head Coach in Waiting. Mack Brown was expected to retire soon and Muschamp was to replace him much like Florida State had done with Bobby Bowden and Jimbo Fisher.
The Longhorns played Alabama for the national title in the 2009 season and the Crimson Tide turned the Tide early in the game when Texas’ star Quarterback Colt McCoy went down with a shoulder injury. Texas fans like to say the outcome of the game would have been much different with Colt in the game, and Alabama fans say bull stuff. Who knows.
This game was harder on the Texas coaching staff than people on the outside really know and Mack Brown had been expected to ride off into the sunset in glory having won his second national title. It did not sit well with Mack and he didn’t retire.
Clearly, this did not sit well with Will Muschamp. The following season showed the obvious friction within the program and 5-7 followed. Florida State with Bowden and Fisher, and Texas with Brown and Muschamp quickly killed the whole head coach in waiting system as it obviously did not work. It causes confusion with the team not really knowing which coach to follow among other things.
The once certain retirement of Mack Brown was now in limbo and when the Florida Gators came calling it suddenly became a no brainer for Will Muschamp. Wait for maybe years for Brown to
decide to retire, or go back to the SEC and the exact town of his birth.
He was going home.
After a shaky 7-6 beginning in 2011, Florida’s football team was suddenly the talk of the South as Muschamp led those chomping Gators to an 11-1 regular season and a tie with Georgia in the SEC East. Georgia got the SEC Championship game berth because they were Florida’s only loss of the season.
The Florida Gators and Muschamp were invited to the Sugar Bowl where they ironically played Charlie Strong and his Louisville Cardinals. The game may have been a sign of things to come
because the Cardinals crushed the Gators and pay no attention to the final score. Strong, instead of Muschamp, became the next coach at Texas where he failed miserably.
Neither Texas, or Florida, puts up with losing for long and 4-8 followed for Muschamp with the Gators and they let him go after the 2014 season and a 6-5 record.
Firing was a temporary set back for the man of many talents, well defensive talents, mostly.
Auburn, with Gus Malzahn who had replaced Gene Chizek, hired Muschamp pretty quickly to guide it’s really bad defense.
Once you are the top guy on the totem pole it’s hard to go back to taking orders and few people could tell you that better than myself.
After one season at Auburn, Muschamp was calling the shots again after South Carolina hired him as their head coach for the 2016 season.
Due to his failure at Florida, I thought the Muschamp hire was a big mistake by South Carolina at the time. Now, I am hopeful. Muschamp can recruit about as well as anyone and if he leaves his offense in the hands of somebody else, he has a shot at building a solid program at South Carolina.