The college coaching carousel is always fascinating, especially when former head coaches like Will Muschamp ease into small roles in-between bigger, flashier gigs. Muschamp sports a tremendous coaching resume, with stops at Texas, Florida, and South Carolina, not to mention early tutelage from the great Nick Saban at LSU. He was named the ‘coach in waiting’ at Texas during the Mack Brown era, and at the time was the Big XII’s highest-paid assistant coach.
Instead of collecting big defensive coordinator checks and waiting for Texas, Muschamp bolted for the greener pastures of the SEC, and coincidentally Texas has never really found its footing ever since. Muschamp, though, never really found his footing, either: his 2012 Florida team won 11 games but lost in the Sugar Bowl, and his 2017 Gamecocks team won nine games in his second season as head coach, but never amounted to much afterwards. This elite defensive mind, known for his intensity and recruiting prowess, was having a tough time translating the mystique into wins.
What would the college football landscape look like if Muschamp had stayed in Austin? What would his career look like? He certainly wouldn’t be holding a clipboard for Kirby Smart as a ‘defensive analyst’ for the Georgia Bulldogs, right? The guy who could command top dollar as DC for any team, now brought in for morale purposes and, according to reports, some special teams coaching? Imagine the humility required for a multimillionaire coach to even take that job, much less thrive in it.
But by all accounts, that’s exactly what’s happening in Athens this summer. The players adore Muschamp. Kirby Smart beams whenever he gets to talk about him. And there are reports he’s even stepping in as a special teams contributor when necessary.
“People think that because you are a head coach, you are not a special teams coach,” Smart said. “You are probably more in special teams as the head coach than you are when you are the special teams coach. I know that Will ran his program very similar to how we run ours, and he was involved in special teams.
“I think that the players respect him and the job that he has done,” Smart also added. “So far, I have been really excited and reinvigorated because there is a new voice, and a lot of people are up there talking. They are hearing different voices every day, and the players are really competing.”
Senior defensive back Ameer Speed agrees: “Coach Muschamp is awesome,” he said. “He does a really good job (working) with us. We love talking with [him].”
Truly, it’s a tremendous story that will likely go unnoticed or simply laughed at by college football fans who are cheering against Georgia. Think about it; how often does a former rock star show up and offer to set up drum kits, just so he can be around the music he loves? Muschamp was the guy for over a decade, and now suddenly he’s at the bottom of the totem pole, handing out life advice at the lunch table.
If I were a Georgia fan, I’d be absolutely thrilled that Muschamp loves the game enough to sacrifice his ego for the good of the program, a program which he himself played for from 1991 to 1994. I’m willing to bet this season means more to him than a paycheck or an image reboot. He’s a man who other men have looked up to for years, and even though the glory won’t be his if Georgia wins it all this year, I’m quite certain that the players and coaches in his orbit will say that they couldn’t have done it without him.
Respect is often born from a willingness to do what others won’t, and Will Muschamp is embodying that maxim daily down in Georgia. Don’t be surprised to see that defense (or special teams unit) playing with more passion and intensity than you expected, because they respect their coach, who clearly has a passion for football that cannot be overstated.