The Florida Gators missed a bowl games for the first time since 1990 after a 4-8 season last year that saw Will Muschamp’s team ravaged by injuries, inconsistent quarterback play and nearly cost him his job.
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley believes in Muschamp and didn’t make the knee-jerk reaction or listen to the countless fans in and around Gainesville who wanted a change at the top.
Foley was on the Paul Finebaum radio show on Thursday to explain his thought-process in keeping Muschamp and expressed optimism for the future.
“I certainly observed how Will handled a difficult year. I never saw a guy lose control. I never saw a guy that was walking around with a deer-in-the-headlights look. I saw a guy who just kept grinding and was a leader. You can tell a lot about people when things aren’t going well.”
Often when a coach gets fired it’s because he lost the locker room and the players no longer were buying into the message the coach is preaching. That wasn’t the case last year as Muschamp remained steadfast in his approach and message and after a year where anything that could go wrong, went wrong, that does say a lot about his leadership.
“I feel very confident. I feel very good that this is going to work out in the end for the University of Florida.”
With Jeff Driskel returning at quarterback after an injury-shortened season and a host of other Florida players returning form injury to complement a roster that includes Vernon Hargreaves III, Dante Fowler Jr. Jonathan Bullard and promising sophomore running back, perhaps that optimism from Foley will not be in vain.
The schedule will always be a challenge with road dates with Alabama and Florida State in addition to games with LSU, Georgia and South Carolina, but if Muschamp can manage to win eight or nine games this season, it will be rank as one of the better coaching jobs in the country.
[h/t Chris Vannini of CoachingSearch for the quotes]