GAINESVILLE -- Florida -- a preseason top 10 team -- appears poised for its first losing season since 1979, but embattled head coach Will Muschamp has not lost the support of the UF administration.
For the first time since hiring Muschamp in December 2010, athletics director Jeremy Foley and school president Bernie Machen publically reaffirmed their commitment to Muschamp in an official statement released on the school website Wednesday afternoon.
“As athletic director, I’m a thousand percent convinced that Will Muschamp is the guy to lead this football program,’’ Foley said. “Nothing has changed in what we feel about Will Muschamp from the day we hired him. “Everyone around here wants the same thing. We want to do what is right for the University of Florida. We understand that this football season has not gone the way any of us wanted it to go, certainly not the way our fans wanted it to go, and most of all, not the way Will Muschamp wanted it to go.”
Added Machen: “I want the Gator Nation to know that I have full confidence in Coach Muschamp and his leadership of the football program.’’
Muschamp is 22-13 as Florida’s coach. The Gators went 11-2 just a season ago, but in the midst of their second four-game losing streak in three seasons -- Florida’s only such skids since 1990 -- the Gator Nation has grown restless.
Florida was humiliated last Saturday, losing to Vanderbilt 34-17 at home for the first time since World War II (1945).
But despite a season marred by injuries (10 season-ending surgeries), offensive ineptitude (a likely third-straight finish in the bottom-20 nationally in total offense) and all the wrong records being broken (Florida’s 22-season bowl streak), Foley remains assured Muschamp is the right man for the job.
“I understand the passion and the disappointment,’’ Foley said. “But at the end of the day, we’ve got great fans, they love the Gators and their passion makes this place special. They are hurting, they want the program to be successful and we feel that hurt.”
“We have a history of being successful, we have a history of fixing things when they need to be fixed, and that is what is going to happen here, and Coach Muschamp is the one that will fix it.”
Muschamp’s contract runs through 2017. Foley pleaded for fans’ patience, while also citing his faith in Muschamp’s coaching abilities.
“We will get better under Will Muschamp’s leadership,’’ Foley said. “This is not the quote-unquote dreaded ‘vote of confidence.’ This is just how we all feel around here. We have a strong faith and a strong belief in his capabilities, in his leadership skills, in his ability to evaluate what needs to be fixed.”
“Go back to a year ago: we’re 11-1 and beat four teams in the Top 10 and he was SEC Coach of the Year. I don’t think that was a fluke. I think coaching had a lot to do with that. We’ll stay the course here. We’ll get it right. We’re not going to let Gator fans down. We want the same thing they want.”
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