Martin Fennelly Columns
Muschamp's time is now, and he's wasting none of it
TAMPA - The turboprop, with orange and blue detailing, taxied to the lobby at the Tampa International Jet Center late Thursday afternoon. Will Muschamp, new head football coach at Florida, was in a hurry, again. He was on his way into a valley of Gators over at Raymond James Stadium. His first-time booster whirlwind has already hit Lakeland, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. "These are the people in the seats," Muschamp said. The last guy got tired of this stuff — fast. True, the last guy won two national championships before he decided to spend more time with his family and ESPN family of networks.The last guy, he was texting during the news conference in New Orleans when he announced he had changed his mind and would not step down. It is Coach Boom's turn. He left his phone in the car outside Raymond James. In the car! He got up and spoke, voice racing. He told a few jokes. He answered questions until he was out of breath. He was warmly greeted. He was warmly right back. As an assistant coach, his audience was smaller, a recruit and his family in a living room. This is a different kind of selling. Or is it? "I think over a period of time people will see the hard work, the discipline, the commitment to excellence," Muschamp said. "I don't think you need to go stand in front of an audience and sell yourself. I don't necessarily look at it as selling yourself. I look at it as part of the job of being head football coach at the University of Florida." When he arrived in Gainesville, Muschamp handed a 100-day schedule to his staff. "It's about being organized, being on top of things, so when the unexpected happens, you can get on top of it. And it's going to happen," he said. Janoris Jenkins happened, again. Muschamp dismissed him. You see, it is that easy. Or is it? "It's always difficult," Muschamp said. "I knew Janoris. I recruited him out of high school. You have to make decisions that are best for the University of Florida and our football team in the short term and the long term. And that's the decision that I made." A fan asked about Muschamp's decision to close Florida spring practice. Muschamp said he didn't want other teams to have a chance to see what the Gators were putting in for their first season. Urban Meyer won those two national titles and Steve Spurrier changed the face of the SEC forever without closing spring practice. Coach Boom needs to work on that one. There was some news at the stadium gathering. Former Armwood star and Gators offensive lineman Matt Patchan has been cleared to lift. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will coach from the sidelines this season. And the new head coach isn't ruling out calling the defense himself. The last guy comes around, though Urban is now media . "He's gotten a lot dumber in recent weeks," Muschamp said with a grin. "No, he's been great. He's been a good sounding board. Everyone wants to give you advice, but until you sit in that chair, you don't know." It is Coach Boom's time. His family is still in Austin, as his children are finishing the school year. He is left to his 100-day schedule and the unexpected. Most eyes can't help but drift to the meat-grinder October schedule: Alabama, at LSU and Auburn, Georgia. Will Muschamp doesn't blink. "I think those teams are looking at the schedule and saying 'Damn, we got to play the Gators.' " Before he left, a fan asked what he thought about Gators booing their own. "Hey, wait until the game's over and boo me ," Muschamp said. "Find out where I park my car and boo me while I'm walking out." Everyone applauded. They probably already know where he parks.