There are two sides to every story.
On Sunday news broke that Tyler Murphy had decided it would be in his best interests to transfer away from the University of Florida and play his remaining year of eligibility at another school. Murphy graduated on Saturday with a degree in telecommunications and under NCAA bylaw 18.104.22.168 is permitted to play immediately if he finds a graduate program at another university that would not be available to him at Florida.
The news came as a surprise to most fans and according to several reporters, was a surprise to Will Muschamp and the coaching staff as well. Reports surfaced last Friday that Muschamp had told Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun that rumors about Murphy’s desire to transfer were “not true.” but Murphy has a slightly different story to tell.
In an interview with Gator Country, Murphy said that he had not made a final decision on if he would transfer until after graduation last Saturday. He recounted his final week as a Gator beginning on Thursday.
“I was just studying for my exam and I wasn’t by my phone so I didn’t see that he had called me a few times that day,” Murphy said. “I guess a reporter had called him asking about me transferring, that I had told somebody [from the media] that I was transferring.”
Murphy hadn’t been paying attention to the Internet rumors that swirled around the possibility of him transferring. With one final test between him and a diploma, he had more important things on his mind and insists that he didn’t tell anybody outside of the football program that he was transferring.
“Anybody outside of football that asked me about it, of course I told them ‘no.’ It wasn’t even a decision I had made until Saturday,” he said. “It was just in the back of my head thinking about what would be best for me and what would I could do next year.”
After finishing his final exam, Murphy was able to get in touch with Muschamp on Thursday. He asked Murphy if he had told a reporter that he was transferring, a claim that Murphy denied.
Murphy’s family flew in from Connecticut to attend his graduation ceremony. His family was set to fly out of Gainesville and back home on Saturday night, conflicting with the football banquet, a conflict that Murphy says he made the coaching staff aware of prior to the event and something that shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
“I just talked to my family [Saturday] while I was taking them to the airport. I wasn’t able to make the banquet and I told them [the coaches] ahead of time that I wasn’t going to be able to make the banquet and I’m sorry about that,” Murphy said. “I wasn’t just trying to skip out; it wasn’t a decision I made because I knew I was leaving, it was just something I had to take care of and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it and told them ahead of time.”
It was during that talk with his parents where Murphy says he made up his mind and decided it would be in his best interests to find a new school and a new program to spend his final year of eligibility at.
With his mind made up, Murphy’s next move was to inform his coaches.
On Sunday, Murphy says he contacted Assistant Athletics Director and Director of Football Operations, George Wynn, to set up a face-to-face meeting with Muschamp. Wynn informed Murphy that Muschamp was meeting with recruits who were taking official visits but that he would be available to speak in 45 minutes.
Murphy waited. The weight of a decision had been lifted off of his shoulder but that doesn’t make breaking the news to your head coach any easier.
Murphy called Muschamp, but says he was unable to reach his coach. His next decision is one that was scrutinized on Sunday. Instead of trying to call again, or waiting for his coach to return the missed call, Murphy sent Muschamp a text message, briefly detailing why he had called.
“I called him in 45 minutes, hoping to talk to him, and he didn’t answer,” he said. “What I did was shot him a text just letting him know what I was calling about and how I was feeling. I said hopefully when you get this you could give me a call back so we can further discuss this.”
Muschamp got right back to Murphy after receiving the text message.
According to Murphy, the two talked about Muschamp’s expectations for the offense and his desire to have an open competition at quarterback this offseason. But Murphy’s mind was made up, telling Muschamp, “I just let him know that it would probably be best that I just move on and do grad school elsewhere and use my last year of eligibility somewhere else.
“He wasn’t happy with it. He told me he didn’t think it was a good decision for me. We kind of just went back and forth a little bit, talking about the whole situation and stuff for next year. When he kind of felt where I was leaning towards he said he appreciated everything I’ve done and stuff like that. When we hung up I thought everything was good.”
Murphy said he never intended to break the news to Muschamp via text message.
“I never tried to tell him what was going on through text,” he said. “I sent him a text kind of just so when he saw the missed call he knew what I was calling about and I could get his attention so hopefully he would call me back when he was free.”
“I was never trying to duck on him or not do it in a mature way,” Murphy said. “It just so happened that he had to hear it from me through text because he didn’t pick up my call and I couldn’t meet with him in his office.”
From a football standpoint it’s a puzzling decision. Murphy is coming off of a season where he started the first game of his career, attempted his first pass and threw his first touchdown and was assured by Muschamp that he would have an equal opportunity to earn the starting job this offseason. After sitting on the bench and being a scout team player for the better part of four seasons, it appeared that Murphy would have his first real opportunity to earn the title of starting quarterback at the University of Florida.
But this wasn’t just a football decision.
“I’m hoping to find a school that will have something that I would be interested in studying at the same time,” he said. “This is an educational decision too. It’s not just a football thing. So I want to make sure they have something that I’m interested in studying.”
In speaking with Murphy it’s clear that he is realistic about his future in football. It’s every kid’s dream to play in the NFL but only a select few get to wake up from that dream to find themselves inside of an NFL locker room. Murphy’s chances at realizing that opportunity are slim — he knows it — but he has other aspirations.
He has goals away from the football field. He doesn’t know exactly what graduate program he will land in but he plans to enroll at a new university this January.
“I want to be a coach some day or an AD or general manager so probably something in sports management,” Murphy said when asked what graduate programs he would look at. “I think it would be nice to just see how another program operates and learn that way and see something new.”
Murphy’s high school coach John Campanello is helping the family sift through other rosters and depth charts to try and find a suitable fit for the quarterback.
As of Sunday night, Murphy had not signed his release from Florida and was not made aware of any transfer restrictions that Muschamp could place on him. He expects to sign his release on Monday.
Despite his decision to leave Florida, Murphy is grateful for his four years in Gainesville and the opportunities that two coaching staffs afforded him.