Fans ‘excited’ after Muschamp appearance

George Frady thought about it all day.

He though about it during his morning commute from Palatka to Gainesville. He thought about it during his day working as a supervisor for the Alachua County Road & Bridge Office. He thought about it during his drive from work to the Gainesville Raceway where Florida football coach Will Muschamp was the guest speaker at the TitleTown Gator Club’s second annual Gator Gathering.

All of that thinking paid off as Frady came up with one of the best questions for Muschamp during the Thursday evening event.

The answer was as equally entertaining as the question.

Frady didn’t get all of his question out before Muschamp interjected a reply that filled the aluminum-siding pavilion with laughter.

“How you doing coach?” Frady began. “If I was a recruit and you were in my living room … “

“I’m going to be honest with ya George — I wouldn’t recruit ya,” Muschamp quipped.

Muschamp joked as often as he was serious while speaking for nearly 33 minutes before signing autographs for most of the 300 or so in attendance. The second-year coach’s opening statement lasted about 10 minutes and he fielded questions from fans such as Grady for the rest of his time on stage. 

Once he got it all out, Frady was pleased with Muschamp’s response to his question of how the coach would convince a recruit to come to Florida instead of schools like Alabama and LSU.

“It was a good answer — a great answer,” Frady said.

Frady, like most of the fans who feasted on barbecue chicken, beans and cole slaw, walked away from the Gainesville Raceway pavilion more fired up about the season than they were before they walked in.

Most are anxious to see how much the team has improved in 2012 after the Gators posted a 7-6 record in 2011.

Richard Phillips — who said he’s spent most of his retirement perusing the pages of by the way — became of fan of Florida football in 1972, just three years after moving to Gainesville from Kentucky. Although his son graduated from UF, Phillips’ love for the Gators is “hard to take” for his Kentucky Wildcats friends.

Phillips attends every home game and at least one road game per season. He already has bought tickets for Florida’s Sept. 8 game against Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.

“I feel like coach Muschamp is much better prepared and the team is much better prepared than they were a year ago,” Phillips said after Muschamp’s appearance. “I do feel a little bit more confident because I feel he’s more confident.

“He was kind of put in a bad situation last year.”

Lindsey Stevens is the young alumni coordinator for the TitleTown Gator Club, coordinating events for UF grads from age 21 to 35. She’s also Director of Alumni Affairs for the University’s College of Journalism and Communications.

Stevens, who admits she was a Miami Hurricanes fan before “switching alliances” after being accepted into UF where she graduated in 2008 with a degree in public relations, is excited to see the new offense after watching how well quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel performed during the Orange & Blue Debut on April 7.

“I know a lot about sports, not as much as some guys do, but it sounds to me like we’re going to have a good season this year,” Stevens said while taking fans tickets who were waiting on line for Muschamp’s signature.

Stevens said fans were hopeful for a better season a year ago, but believes this year’s team will be much improved, especially after listening to Muschamp speak on Thursday.

“As always, he’s a really good speaker,” Stevens said. “I think that our crowd really enjoyed the things he had to say about the team and the upcoming season. I think he’s really excited about it and the crowd is really excited about it.

“I think they’re ready to see a breakout year and I think that’s what he’s going to give us.”

Frank Broome has been a Gators fan “all my life,” and attended his first Florida football game in 1976. He echoed Stevens’ sentiments about the upcoming season.

“I’m totally excited,” Broome said. “I’m just glad to hear he thinks it’s improving and I think getting the first year under his belt is going to help a lot.”

After waiting all day to get his question in, Frady had to wait a little longer as he was the fourth fan to be handed the microphone by event emcee Tom Collett.

So, it’s no surprise Frady doesn’t mind waiting a little longer for Muschamp to get the Gators going again.

“I’m patient enough to wait on (Muschamp) because I know he can’t turn things over in one year,” Frady said. “Even though I’m really looking forward to this year and seeing the improvement, I’m really expecting real big things in about another year or two. If everyone stays together, it’s going to be great.

“You’ve just got to give him time.”

Fortunately, Frady has plenty of time to think about what question he’ll ask Muschamp at next year’s event.

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Mike Capshaw brings a wealth of experience to the Gator Country team. He’s been overseeing all editorial aspects of and Gator Country magazine by managing our team of staffers, interns and freelancers. He is now moving into a bigger role as a reporter by covering the football and basketball beats as well as providing coverage of all sports on campus. Mike’s 15 years in the business has included more than six years of covering SEC sports and recruiting at a daily newspaper in Arkansas. He has also helped launch a newspaper, magazines, websites and even a sports talk radio show. Because Mike puts family ahead of his career, he left the place where he was established when his wife received an opportunity to further her career at UF. He took a leap of faith that he could find a job in the Gainesville area and worked for a year at a newspaper group before joining the Gator Country family in November, 2011. Mike has won Florida Press Association awards for Best Sports Game Story and Best Sports Feature Story in the past two years as well as a company-wide award at his former newspaper group that includes some 60 publications, for Excellence in Sports Reporting. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeCapshawGC.