GAINESVILLE _ Making it clear there has to be changes but standing by his man, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley made it clear before today's game against Florida State that Will Muschamp will be back in 2014 despite a 4-7 season going to the rival game against the Seminoles.
“Obviously it's been a difficult year. We haven't made an excuse all year, and we're not going to make them now. We know what this program is all about.,'' Foley told a gathering of 50 or so media before the game. “I have total confidence in Coach Muschamp and have made that clear. We've got to fix some things. When you have seasons like this, that's what you do – you evaluate, you analyze and you fix things. You don't panic. You don't put orange and blue glasses on. It's not acceptable, it's not who we are and it's not what we're about. Confident we can fix it. I don't say that, I've heard that it's my ego speaking. No, it's my belief.
“Like I told my staff the other day, my name's not on the front door down there. I don't own this franchise. It's my job to make sure it's going in the right direction and I believe with Will it's going in that direction. If I didn't, then obviously we've made tough decisions before. I don't waver on that, despite the difficulty of the year. We've got to get some things fixed. Obviously, at the end of the day, we've got to win some football games.''
Muschamp has already had conversations with Foley about the future.
“Obviously his office is next to mine and we've talked a lot about this year. We see each other a lot. Get through today and we'll begin going into it tomorrow and Monday,'' he said.
Foley said he's had a different take on Muschamp than the Ron Zook firing in the middle of the 2004 season.
“ I don't think it's apples-to-apples. I'm not being disrespectful to anybody. Zooker and I are friends, but it's just not apples-to-apples,'' Foley said. “It's my job to evaluate and see where the program is headed. At that point in time, I didn't think it was headed where we wanted it to be. This time, I think it's headed where we want it to be. The proof is going to be in the pudding, but I don't think it's apples-to-apples.
“I'm like anybody else, I want to be successful for the University of Florida. The only thing that we want to do is to take care of the Gators. I've been doing that for 38 years, I've been doing it for 22 as athletic director. I'm not patient or impatient or wiser or older, I want to be successful. I'm very confident we're going to be successful moving in the direction we're moving in. That's where it's at..''
Foley, like Gators fans, realizes the offense is a major concern that has to be corrected. UF ranked last in the SEC in scoring offense at 19.9 points an outing going into Saturday.
“I don't think it's any secret, and Will will tell you, we've got to fix that side of the ball. I'm not being disrespectful to anybody, but you look at some of the games we've lost, we haven't scored many points,'' Foley said. “This year or last year or what have you, that has to get fixed. And that's going to be Will's responsibility as the head football coach. I'll help him, support him, advise him, whatever have you. I will tell you if you ask him today, it's his biggest concern. We've got to fix that side of the ball.''
Foley called it a crushing season _ for everyone.
“Yeah, it crushes all Gator fans. I'm a Gator fan and I've been doing this a long time. But you know something, and this will come across very Polly Annish but it's true, we've also done some things or I've had the ability to do some things as athletic director that not many in my shoes ever have.,'' Foley said. “You ask me why? I think Will is a really good self evaluator. He can look in the mirror and isn't afraid to take responsibility for what's happened. We as an organization, Steve Mac will tell you, talk about self evaluation all the time. We look at ourselves and how we get better. Not just sit here and say, 'Yeah we've got a bunch of injuries, we'll be fine.' That better not be our attitude. It better be our attitude to reevaluate every single facet of what we're doing and get this thing fixed. To answer your question, yeah it stinks. It stinks for every Gator fan. This season has been no fun because we care.''