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July 20, 2011

Will Muschamp


THE MODERATOR: We're ready to continue. Our next coach is the head coach of the Florida Gators, Coach Will Muschamp.
COACH MUSCHAMP: Thank you so much. Great to be here. Great to be back in the Southeastern Conference and at the University of Florida.
I appreciate the opportunity given to me by Dr. Bernie Machen, our president at Florida, and Jeremy Foley, the confidence they have in me to take over this program.
Great to see a lot of familiar faces. I appreciate the job you guys do in supporting college football, the SEC and the University of Florida. Thank you so much of the.
It's an exciting time to be a football coach. We're all undefeated right now. Haven't made any poor decisions on third down. But it's an exciting time.
Really pleased with the progress of our football team. Being hired in December, having the opportunity which Urban Meyer allowed me to come to bowl practice, watch our football team work and practice, very appreciative of him and the insight he's given me.
My email is full of suggestions from the Gator Nation. I've chose to listen to Urban a little bit more than anybody else. He's really been good in this transition. I appreciate him. He's really first class.
We had a good five-week off-season program. I don't like to use the word 'retained.' I hired Mickey Marotti to be our strength coach. He's outstanding. I think that's the most important hire on your staff. He's going to convey the toughness, all you want done. He does it at a high level.
Had a good five-week off-season into spring. We identified play-makers on both sides of the ball. Feel comfortable with our talent level. We do have some deficiencies as far as our numbers are concerned, I am concerned about that. But that's part of it. I don't think anybody is feeling sorry for the Gators, for sure. I feel good with some play-makers on both sides that certainly can help us. I told our players on April 9th, after the spring game, we will be defined over the next four months on how we work.
Because of NCAA rules, as coaches we can't be involved. Our strength staff can. All the reports I hear from our players, we've done an outstanding job of working, of creating some confrontation, creating some chaos to developing leadership and toughness in our unit. We're really coming together well. I'm excited about August 5, when that comes up.
I'm pleased about our staff. I think the worst thing you can do in a leadership position is be something you're not. I'm a defensive coach. I coached special teams. I hired Charlie Weis to run our offense. I'm very pleased with where we are right now with Charlie. Philosophically being on the same page, the development of quarterback speaks for itself, development of offense speaks for itself. Expertise in play calling, I really enjoyed going through spring with him and seeing that.
Then having him in the staff room is important to me. He's been a head coach before. Fall back on some of his experiences has been a joy for me.
Dan Quinn, hired him as a defensive coordinator. A guy I worked with at the Miami Dolphins. I think he's as good a front coach as I've been around from a fundamental technique standpoint. Philosophically being on the same page.
D.J. Durkin, there will be a lot of continuity in our special teams play. I hired him again to be at University of Florida. He did a great job at Stanford with Jim Harbaugh, and with Urban for a year. Our staff, really pleased with the direction we're headed. By design we've got close to 40 years of NFL experience. I thought that was important.
When a young man comes to the University of Florida, he's going to get a great education. We're one of two schools in the SEC that the Association of American Universities recognizes, 60 schools in the country, for an elite degree, elite education. That's what we're going to provide a young man.
He needs to win a championship. The fun is in winning. Football is a tough, hard game. We certainly understand the expectation of Florida and what's been established before us. The last thing is to hopefully have that opportunity to play in the NFL. I didn't want any projections coming out of our scheme. I wanted guys to see themselves playing in that scheme and certainly transferring to Sunday if that were made available.
To update you on any roster situations. Ron Ball was diagnosed this past spring with a vascular condition that he was born with. Very fortunate our medical staff recognized it. Very fortunate that we had Shands right there in Gainesville to handle that. I talked to that Ron Monday. He has been in Colorado at a spiritual development camp. He's very healthy, doing fine. He will not physically be a part of our football team as we progress here in the fall. We will reevaluate his status as a football player in January or February of next year. The number one priority is he's healthy. That's the most important thing.
Jeff Demps is running with the U.S. National Team in Italy. Jeff and I have had great conversations all summer. He is a young man that had a national championship 60 meter, won the national championship as a team with our indoor track team. Had a great outdoor season. Didn't perform as well as he wanted to in the NCAAs, but wanted to run with the U.S. National Team. He got that opportunity in Italy. I granted him permission to do that.
He and I will meet next week to see when he will join our football team in August. I'll update you once he and I speak and talk about that. I expect him to be a part of our football team.
We have three fine student-athletes we brought from Florida today. Deonte Thompson is a receiver, going to be a senior. All three of these young men will graduate in December. Quinton Dunbar and Deonte are two guys that had explosive springs as far as receivers were concerned.
Johnny Brantley will be our quarterback. Played for his father as a former Gator.
John Brantley down at Trinity in Ocala. Of course, Scot, his uncle was a great linebacker for the Gators back in the late '70s. I'm really excited about John. Had a great off-season. Had a really good spring practice. Charlie has a lot of confidence in him. Our players have tremendous confidence in John. I think what we're doing now scheme-wise fits him a little bit more from a skill-set standpoint. Really pleased with his progress.
Willie Green from here in Birmingham, Spain Park High School, guy had a great off-season. Can do some different things with us.
With that, I'll open it up for questions.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Coach Muschamp.

Q. (No microphone).
COACH MUSCHAMP: Technically I don't get any reports as much as anything from Mickey. I talked to our players an awful lot. Our players are doing a good job of seven-on-sevens, the 11-on-11s.
The players are putting it all together. That's exciting to hear. That's exciting that they feel like, from a body weight standpoint, where we need to be. Most guys, that means we're in condition for the most part.
August 5th, 6th, 7th, I'll be able to answer that question a whole lot more.
As far as our team building and chemistry is concerned, that's going to happen in August camp when we have some adversity. That's going to happen Saturdays in the SEC when you have adversity, how you handle those situations, how close you've become.
I think we've made progress going into the summer. Hopefully we've continued that progress throughout the summer.

Q. A lot of coaches take over a program that's been down or losing and have to make a change. You've taken over a program that's had a lot of success. Is it harder to make the changes you naturally want to make as a coach?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I think more than anything, if it's not broke, don't fix it. Urban did a phenomenal job, he and his staff. They did some great things that we're going to continue to do. There were some things that were very good at Florida. Why change 'em if they're working?
But obviously from a scheme standpoint, we feel differently defensively, do a little different offensively. Special teams, there will be a lot of continuity. With Mickey in our weight room, I added some things in the off-season that I think are important.
If it's not broke, don't fix it. Don't just change it for the sake of change. Evaluate where you are, what you see, what you believe in. Philosophically, does it match up with what you want?

Q. Coach, just want to ask you about the tutelage you've had, guys you've been lucky enough to coach under Mack Brown, Nick Saban. I know you had a chance to spend a lot of time with Bill Oliver, as well. Talk about the impact he made on you being a head coach in the SEC?
COACH MUSCHAMP: There's no question Bill Oliver is a guy, being a graduate assistant under him at Auburn, learning that you can have some imagination on defense. You know, you look back at some of the combination coverages we're playing now, we were doing back then with him. Some of the zone fire principles that Dom Capers was doing, Bill Oliver was doing on the college level.
Think back to '92, in the Alabama game in the Sugar Bowl, the defensive game plan was pretty phenomenal to beat the Miami team that they won.
Again, he's a guy I certainly wouldn't -- everybody contributes to your career in some form or fashion. He certainly had a huge impact on my career.

Q. Coach, can you compare or contrast recruiting in Florida to another obviously hotbed in Texas. With Alabama and Auburn winning the last two national championships, how has the dynamics of recruiting in Florida changed over the last couple years?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I think there's an awful lot of really good football players in the state of Florida. There's a lot of good high school football coaches in the state of Florida that know how to develop their players. That's the same thing. That's the same thing in the state of Texas.
I think the competition in recruiting is much more fierce in the state of Florida because of the proximity of programs like you, programs that have big stadiums, programs that have great academic institutions, great support, great resources. They have a lot of similar things, outstanding staffs, championships, tradition, as opposed to maybe being in Texas, would be the difference. The competition level and the proximity of all those schools being that close to you.
Obviously, we're going to recruit the state of Florida first and foremost. We're going to take care of our backyard. We've got to take the guys that can positively affect or program. There will be some people we don't recruit because we, for whatever reason, don't feel they fit what we want. But we're really pleased the way things are going.

Q. Coach, I wanted to ask you a little bit about the influences that you might have received from Nick Saban. What did you learn from him that you feel like you'll be bringing to Gainesville?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, I think more than anything, total program management, philosophically, what you believe offensively, defensively, and special teams, being tied together on both sides of the ball for what you want to be. Not having two separate units for what they are, which some teams do that.
Having an idea in the evaluation process of recruiting. What kind of player you're looking for. Identify the critical factors for what you're looking for at every position and go after those players that fit your system for what you want. Having discipline within the program with the players. Having accountability, responsibility. All those things to me are traits of good football teams, certainly some things that reemphasize to me what was important.
I had a great working relationship with Nick. He's very smart, detail oriented, very organized in what he wants to do, the vision he sees for his program. That's a credit to him.
We had an outstanding staff at LSU. I think it's pretty obvious. You see the Jimbo Fishers and the Derek Dooleys of the world doing very well in their head coaching jobs.

Q. Coach, sorry to belabor the point on Demps. Some of the rumors circulating. Are you not sure at this moment whether or not he'll definitely be playing for you in the fall?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Based on our conversations, he'll be back. I don't deal in rumors or message boards. I don't know any good ball coaches that do that.

Q. What are some of the factors that could go either way? Seemed like you left the door open for it in your opening statement that you still need to have a conversation with him when he returns.
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, he's in Italy right now. When I deal with people, I like to deal eyeball to eyeball, talk to them face to face. That's been hard to do with some of the traveling he's been doing. I ain't never been to Italy.

Q. You talk about the staff at LSU. Talk about, do you keep in contact with Coach Dooley or Fisher as you get ready for your first year? Facing those guys, is that something you're looking forward to this year?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Yeah. I've got great respect for all those guys. They're all outstanding coaches. They do a great job with their programs. I think when you spend as much time as we do as coaches with each other working through from a coaching standpoint, a recruiting standpoint, you spend an awful lot of time with those guys. You get to know those guys and families.
Our wives are a little bit of widows in the fall there. They spend a lot of time with each other. Our kids spend time with each other. You get to know them very well. You get to know the in and outs of their families, their deal.
So I'm looking forward to all of those rivalries, but I'm looking forward more than anything to training camp on August 5th, us managing our football team as we work through it.

Q. What was it like to see Urban Meyer's daughter a member of the media today? Has SEC Media Days been what you expected?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Yeah, I think Nicki is doing an intern there with FOX, I belive. It was good to see her in one of these rooms we were in. It's been great. This league, because of the success it's had, gets tremendous publicity, attention. I think that's a credit to the winning in all sports, but obviously in football. I mean, a lot of attention, it's exciting to be a part of. Great to be back in the SEC.

Q. You referenced looking forward to those rivalries, having existing relationships with Coach Dooley and Saban, Fisher. Is there anything odd or unusual about having these rivalries now?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I wouldn't say we all get along that well (smiling). No.
Again, I don't have any problem with having great respect and liking somebody that we're competing against. I played in the backyard with my brothers growing up. I wanted to beat them worse than anybody. I still love 'em, they're my brothers, but I wanted to win as bad as anything.
I don't necessarily look at it like maybe a fan would look at it, I don't like that team, I don't like anybody associated with that team. I look at it from a respect standpoint.
I really don't worry about what anybody else does. I worry about the University of Florida. We've got a special thing. We have an outstanding institution. We have a great tradition with our program, good players, great staff. I'm really excited about the season. I'm just going to worry about the things I can control, and that's the University of Florida.

Q. You brought up Charlie Weis when you brought him in. Talk about the process in hiring him as the offensive coordinator. He's obviously a Bill Belichick guy who Nick Saban learned under. Of course, you coached under Nick Saban. Talk about the whole tree right there. Even Bill Belichick. Any connections with him still?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Coach Belichick actually came down in the spring for our pro day and spent some time and watched some spring practice. As a matter of fact, I asked him to speak to our football team, and he did. Did an outstanding job. What a presence he has within a group.
But, you know, hiring a staff to me is a little bit like recruiting. You want to identify what you're looking for. I wanted a proven quarterback coach. I wanted someone with some NFL and college experience. We have some good NFL experience on our staff, but all of those guys coached in college. All of those guys have recruited.
I think that's important because that's a little different aspect of the coaching world is going into a high school, going into recruiting, staying up late and having some of the phone calls, some of the things you have to do to be a successful recruiter.
But as I identified those things, Charlie's name kind of kept coming up for me. I realized with his family's situation, which has been well-documented, with his son Charlie, his daughter Hannah, and Maura who loves horses, no better place to be than Gainesville, Florida.

Q. In terms of summer recruiting, how much has that changed throughout the course of your career? I know the commissioner suggested official visits in the summer. Would you be a proponent of that?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I don't know. I think that recruiting has gotten so early. When you're in a coaching transition, I faced it firsthand this December, you come into a situation. Well, you know, you've been building these relationships with some of these young men since their sophomore year of high school. You know the mom, the dad. You know all of the players in the decision. Then you get into December, you're trying to meet these people, trying to build a relationship within a month and a half before signing day, which is difficult.
The process has certainly picked up. I do think, and I agree with Commissioner Slive, we've got to change the rules for the times where we are. Originally, when all these rules came through, there was a signing date in February, everyone was being admitted in August. Now everybody is coming early. You have a bunch of guys coming midyear. You have a bunch of guys coming to school in June, whenever the summer aid starts for people.
I do think there are some things we need to look at as far as the calendar year is concerned with recruiting.

Q. I know you like to coach the defensive X's and O's. How much involvement are you going to have in that this season?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, I think, again, I've said it before, the worst thing you can do in a leadership position is be something you're not. I feel like you've got to lend your strengths, that's going to be coaching on the defensive side of the ball, coaching on special teams.
I hired Charlie to run the offense. I've got great confidence in what he's going to do, what we want to be offensively, what I've identified we want to be offensively to be successful. So those are the things to me that I want to be able to do.
I got hired at the University of Florida because we've had good defenses where I've been before. I don't want to take away from what we've accomplished before, where we've been, what we've done. The enjoyment I get out of coaching is sitting in the defensive staff room preparing our football team. Sitting in the defensive back room, sitting in the linebacker meeting room, coaching and teaching a player, getting on the field and coaching and teaching. That's what I enjoy and that's what I'm going to continue to do.

Q. Could you talk about some of the pitfalls that you think a first-year head coach has to avoid to be successful and effective.
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, I think as much as anything, what I just kind of addressed a little bit about, don't try to be something you're not. You hired good people to do their job. That's what I've done. I've hired good people that I think are professional. I think they're really good football coaches. Frank Verducci is going to coach the offensive line a lot better than I am.
Charlie is going to coach quarterbacks and call plays a lot better than I am. Hire people to do their job and trust in them and have confidence they're going to do an outstanding job and at a high level. These guys are all accomplished coaches. They've all won a lot of football games.
I go by gut feeling when I'm dealing with young men. When you know a guy, you know when you pushed him to his limit, you know the decision you've got to make that's going to affect his future, those are the things I go on gut feeling with.

Q. Expectations are normally at a high level at the University of Florida. Are things going in the right direction? An 8-5 record is not something that the Gator Nation really accepts.
COACH MUSCHAMP: Yeah, they've told me.
Yeah, I've got high expectations for what we need to accomplish, what we need to do. We talk to our team all the time about winning championships on and off the field. We have three young men here today that are all going to graduate in December. That's winning a championship off the field. All three of them have won a championship at Florida. Certainly providing that experience for them would be beneficial for everybody.

Q. How does it feel being a Georgia guy coaching at the University of Florida?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I'm a Florida guy.

Q. You've come from outside the SEC. What are the biggest differences talent-wise in the SEC compared to the other schools?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I think the biggest difference in our conference, in my opinion, is defensive line position. Top to bottom in our league, you watch every week when you turn on an SEC film, there's going to be some dominating players up front, not just in one or two teams, but from top to bottom in our league. That's the biggest difference in our league and other leagues.
Other leagues, there's two or three teams that consistently year in, year out are going to have dominating fronts. We're a line of scrimmage league. That's why I think you see a little bit more unconventional offensive sets in our league, to protect the quarterback because of the defensive linemen and the one-on-one matchups that are created. That's just my opinion.

Q. Having played at Georgia and coached at different schools in the league, how much has that prepared you for having your first head coaching job in the league? Is it odd at all to play your alma mater and other places where you coached in the league?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I think it helps from the standpoint of understanding what you're getting into. When you go to Tiger Stadium, some of these places and play, you understand what you're getting into, number one.
Number two, week in, week out, understanding the competition level. They're really good. They're well-coached, very talented teams. I think even Urban made a comment to me his first year at Florida. You're kind of, wow, it's every week. It is. Unless you've been through it, you don't really understand the competition level week in, week out of what you're dealing with.

Q. As far as playing teams where you used to coach?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, again, I have great experiences everywhere I've been. Top-notch people as far as from administration to other coaches. Obviously players have moved on. But I've got great memories from being at other schools, whether it was LSU, whether it was Auburn, as a player at Georgia. Great experience at all those places.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH MUSCHAMP: We've had a lot of discussion. The first two practices are set for fall camp in pencil depending on some guys getting banged up here and there.
I think it's an interesting balancing act in our league. You have to prepare for the toughness of our league, especially on both lines of scrimmage. You have to get in that physical toughness, that hitting condition what I call. You have to get your guys ready for the physicality of our league.
With that being said, we can't afford any injuries up front. I have to do a good job of balancing that throughout fall camp. That's something that's going to be practice by practice, although we're prepared through practice 22 at this point.

Q. What are the numbers themselves?
COACH MUSCHAMP: On both lines of scrimmage, on offensive and defensive lines. Right now we're going to have to cross train guys at both positions to prepare for injury, to get the best 11 guys out there. If we have a guy at defensive end that gets hurt, we might be better moving a guy from another position. Those are things we're looking at.
We did that in spring. We don't do as much in fall camp because I feel it's important, especially with younger players, to get their feet in the dirt and let them play, let them learn what we're trying to do and what they need to do to be successful.

Q. Coach, the topic of oversigning really dominated a lot of spring. Not all of the coaches agreed with the presidents, with the legislation that came out of that. What are your thoughts on that?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Our policy at the University of Florida is we don't oversign and we don't gray shirt. It hasn't really affected our success from that standpoint. We've won two national championships since 2006, a third in 1996. That's our policy at the University of Florida.

Q. Coach, I talked to Terry Bowden and he was talking about your days as a grad assistant at Auburn. What do you remember about getting your start in even companying, what you learned from Coach Bowden?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I think you look back and first of all as a graduate assistant, when you just come out of playing, you realize how little you knew as a player. That's the first thing that will strike you.
Then just how valuable that learning experience was to work for a defensive coordinator like Wayne Hall, like Bill Oliver. My father said you have two ears and one mouth, you ought to be able to listen twice as much as you talk.
Everywhere I've been, you know, just to be a sponge, just take it all in and understand there's different ways of doing it, there's not one way to do it. There's a lot of ways to be successful. Understand that each situation is different.
A lot of people have said, You just kind of plug in the way you did it here, you'll be successful. That's not always the case. You're dealing with a different costume of characters there. There's different backgrounds, different people, different places.
But, again, what a valuable learning experience for me, especially just coming from playing.

Q. Your time away from the SEC in Austin, does it give you a perspective that you think you've used to your advantage? Everyone wants to talk about the best league. What were you able to learn about the SEC from your time away? Did you get an advantage of any kind coming back to the league?
COACH MUSCHAMP: You know, I don't know that. I think in the Big 12 the offenses are much more spread oriented, much more of a hurry-up tempo offense. I was able, from a defensive perspective, to see a lot more variety in offense in that league as opposed to the Southeastern Conference, which I've talked earlier. I think the defensive line is why you don't see as much of that in our league.
Again, that would be one thing that I know I took from being in the Big 12 as far as from a conference standpoint.

Q. Coach, I was wondering if you could touch on the adaptation curve? In terms of the recruiting that Coach Meyer did, are you trying to get them to transition into playing your style of football, the guys already on the roster that Coach Meyer brought in? Is there a curve there?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, again, I think people talk about you're running this offensive set as opposed to this offensive set. We're still looking for receivers that can stretch a field vertically, create plays in space, block when we ask you to block. There's not a lot of difference fundamentally what you're trying to attract. It's still the same sort of things from the offensive line standpoint. Quarterback might be a little bit different from a runner's standpoint as opposed to a thrower.
I told our guys in our first meeting, change is inevitable and growth is optional. You grow with us or not. But decide if you want to push forward with what we're expecting you to do from a work ethic standpoint, from an accountability standpoint. We're going to move forward with the guys that are willing to do that.

Q. Do the problems on the offensive line and the lack of depth there force you to limit the offense that you want to implement or do you think you'll be able to do everything you're planning to do?
COACH MUSCHAMP: No, I think we'll be able to do that. I think the situation is if we get some injuries, we have to move some guys around. We have a lot of moving parts, that could hinder our process.
I met with the staff yesterday. I told them, I said, Going into our first year, I thought through this throughout the summer, I want to err on simplicity, both sides, from the standpoint of there's always growing pains when you take over a new situation.
I have as a coordinator before at Miami, Auburn and Texas. You go through those communication issues, how would this kid respond in this situation, how does this coach respond in this situation, how do we adjust to something we haven't prepared for, now they're doing it, what are we going to do, are we all on the same page as a staff as far as what we want to do. When you talk about growing pains, that's what I'm talking about.
I do think we will hit those. I would rather err on the simplicity fact of let's get our guys playing hard, fast, physical, blue-collar, overachieving unit. I think we've got an accomplished enough staff to have good answers when the tough time comes.

Q. How long were you willing to be a coach-in-waiting and what did you think of the title when they gave it to you?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, I was very honored that Coach Brown and DeLoss Dodds, Bill Powers thought that much of me to be the next head coach at Texas. I was appreciative of that. Texas is a special place. Austin is a great town. I was looking forward to that opportunity when that happened. I was humbled by the opportunity.
When Jeremy Foley called to express his interest in the University of Florida, I grew up in Gainesville, I was from the SEC, at the end of the day it's Florida.
So, you know, I wasn't out looking for another job. I was very content where we were. I was very upset and disappointed with the season we had. We needed to play better on defense, get more turnovers, and do a lot of things better that we didn't do. But when Jeremy Foley calls from the University of Florida, you listen.

Q. Earlier today Mike Slive suggested toughening some eligibility requirements. Your thoughts on that?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I was in another room when he was speaking. I'm not sure what was said.

Q. (Question regarding the GPA.)
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, again, I think we're all looking down the road as this thing goes as far as academically taking the next step in some situations and certainly that decision will be made by people far above my head.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for your time, coach.
COACH MUSCHAMP: Thank y'all very much.

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