When Florida was blown out against Alabama, head coach Will Muschamp was visibly upset when he entered his usual postgame press conference.
After losing his starting and backup quarterback and getting blown out by his former mentor’s team, who could blame him?
His team had shot itself in the foot repeatedly with missed tackles, stupid penalties and a seeming lack of effort in the trenches.
Muschamp was snappy with reporters and appeared irked at some probing, and perhaps poorly worded, questions from the media.
A decidedly different head coach sat in front of the media and fielded questions in a crowded postgame press conference under the stands at Tiger Stadium.
This time, the first-year head coach looked much more subdued following a second straight blowout loss to an SEC West foe. He calmly and quietly answered questions for about 15 minutes, openly touching on a few subjects that were undoubtedly sensitive.
Monday, Muschamp brought the same presence to his press conference.
For a first-year head coach who looked incredibly frustrated and irritated after his first loss, he looked very different after his second.
The anger after Florida’s loss to Alabama was certainly understandable. After all, a head coach should be upset when his team loses and loses badly.
By showing his composure after an equally devastating loss to LSU, Muschamp sent a pretty clear message, regardless of his intent to do so.
Florida is rebuilding and it will take some time.
That should have been clear from the start of the Muschamp era, with only 72 scholarship players on the roster and the Gators coming off an 8-5 season where seemingly anything that could go wrong did.
However, Florida’s fast 4-0 start and the manner the Gators were winning in probably affected a lot of people’s outlook on the team. Florida was running all over opponents and the defense was suffocating.
When the Gators played two teams as tough in the trenches as they were, the results were shockingly different. Fans and players alike were frustrated at the stunning turnaround in the past two games.
Even Muschamp himself seemed a little more angry than he should have been after the loss to Alabama.
After the loss to LSU, though, Muschamp’s demeanor was subtly changed. He still promised things would improve and still had the glimmer of fire in his eyes as he pointed out that players who didn’t do their jobs would lose their playing time.
But he also seemed to recognize that change won’t come overnight.
Florida fans just need to realize that and make sure they give Muschamp enough time to right the ship.
There’s no questioning his desire to do so. It’s written all over the man’s face, even in humbling defeat. There’s an intensity and passion that’s unmistakable.
With the staff he has around him, Muschamp has all the tools he needs to turn things around. He’s building an equally impressive recruiting class that will help fill some of the gaps left from Urban Meyer’s sudden departure.
When those players arrive and the gaps are filled, there’s little doubt Florida will once again be competitive with the Alabamas and LSUs of the college football world.
As Muschamp’s intensity and desire to win bleed through to the team as time wears on, Florida’s team will begin to reflect its head coach more and more.
The issues that have plagued the team so far this year will be ironed out, and Muschamp’s way of doing things will become second nature to his players.
When it does, watch out.
Florida has all the ingredients in place to return to its perch atop the SEC. Eventually, those ingredients will blend and form the perfect combination to bring the Gators back to the forefront of college football.
It just won’t happen right away. Florida fans need to look no further than the program’s man in charge to take their cue.
Muschamp wasn’t visibly irritated or angry after losing to LSU.
Instead, he was humble and focused, unmistakably cognizant of the fact his team still has a long way to go to get back where he and the fans want it.
Jimmy Eat World said it best: “It just takes some time.”