HOOVER, Ala. — SEC Media Days is all about talking. Steve Spurrier strode up to the podium on Tuesday morning, touched the SEC Championship trophy (the same one he hoisted over his orange and blue visor so many times), grabbed the microphone and said it’s “talking season.”
Monday afternoon the Florida Gators had their chance to talk, and without Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall in attendance, the biggest talking point was Will Muschamp and him being on the hot seat.
“It’s be careful what you ask for. You want to be the head coach at Florida? Then you better learn to take the criticism; it’s part of the deal,” said Muschamp. “They didn’t hold a gun to my head to take the job.”
We heard about injuries and lack of leadership. Will Muschamp and his payers reiterated that the 2013 season was unacceptable and that it would never happen again.
“Nothing changed from one year to the next,” said Florida defensive end Dante Fowler. “Absolutely nothing — other than all those injuries.”
But talk is cheap.
“There will be a lot of chatter about hot seat business,” said Muschamp. “That’s part of it. The way you combat that is having a winning football team and winning football games, which is what we’re going to do.”
There is nothing Will Muschamp can say to make Gator fans believe him. He can talk about how this is the most complete team he’s had at Florida. He can talk about how much of a difference Kurt Roper has made with Jeff Driskel. He can talk until he’s blue in the face but it won’t matter if Florida doesn’t win more football games this season.
“Well, we just need to win the first three games is what we’re really worried about,” Muschamp said. “Certainly playing well offensively is part of that. Playing defensively and special teams. But there’s no question we need to be able to go out and execute very well offensively.”
The first three games should be wins but if 2013 taught us anything it’s that no game can be chalked up as a win before the ball is kicked.
The real test will come on September 20 in a trip to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. We’ll learn a lot about Florida’s make up that day.
“They have an outstanding football team,” Muschamp said. “Everybody knows I got great respect for Nick and his entire staff. I’ve worked with a bunch of them. They recruit extremely well. They develop their players extremely well. We look forward to our trip to Tuscaloosa.”
Florida fans look forward to it as well.
It will be the toughest game on the schedule but it won’t be the most important. That distinction goes to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail party and a game Muschamp has never won, as a player at Georgia or a coach at Florida.
The Gators have to beat Georgia this season. It’s imperative.
Conspiracy theorists have said that Muschamp purposely loses to Georgia because it’s his alma mater. Dante Fowler looked perplexed when that statement was posed to him, “that’s crazy,” he said. “That doesn’t even make sense.”
It doesn’t, but losing a fourth-straight game to the hated Bulldogs won’t quiet down that talk and those conspiracy theorists.
For all the hot seat talk, Muschamp said he never once feared that he wouldn’t be retained at Florida. He never thought about his job security because he had regular dialogue (and still does) with athletic director Jeremy Foley.
“There was never any time in my mind that I didn’t think I would be retained.
It’s the great thing about having an athletic director like Jeremy Foley that has a strong pulse on not only our program, but every program in the athletic department,” Muschamp said. “At the end of the day he understood circumstances we dealt with looking forward to getting them amended this year.”
Muschamp walked out of The Hyatt on Monday, his media obligations done for the day.
His message was clear.
Talk is cheap. We’re done telling you, now we’re going to show you.
He’ll get the chance to show us all in 46 days.