New Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp entered his first SEC Media Days as one of the event's most-anticipated speakers. This is not only because he speaks so quickly that you have to be prepared for it, else you will find yourself dizzied and in the next room.
The former Georgia Bulldogs defender followed Bobby Petrino, making for the most whiplashy contrast of personalities I've ever endured. Attempting to transcribe Muschamp is pointless, as his thoughts on vintage Dom Capers mingled freely with a fellow coach's favorite pet, but you do your best. KABLAOW!
Muschamp opened by thanking Jeremy Foley and company and reveling in the undefeated status of each SEC team at this point. As far as Florida goes, he said he's excited and pleased about the competition his staff has stirred up in Gainesville and the progress Charlie Weis has made in developing the new Gators offense.
"Falling back on some of his experience has been a joy for me," Muschamp said, sounding exactly like Coach Eric Taylor, as he does. He also noted Weis' daughter's love of horses, which are great for recruiting.
The coach provided an update on the status of Neiron Bell, who's going to miss the 2011 season while recovering from a brain illness. Setting aside rumors that Jeff Demps has been given an ultimatum regarding his decision to run track, Muschamp praised his player's performance in Italy meets and expects him to join the team in August. He was later asked to clarify whether Demps is definitely coming back or not, which sent him on a brief rant against message board rumors, producing the quote of the day so far: "I ain't never been to Italy."
Perhaps the most entertaining exchange:
Q: An 8-5 record is not something that Gator Nation really accepts.
A: They've told me.
Q: How's it feel to be a Georgia guy coaching the University of Florida?
A: I'm a Florida guy.
He was then asked about how playing for Georgia prepared him for the SEC, to which he said he felt prepared for getting into taking a team to play in Tiger Stadium and Jordan-Hare Stadium. He cited the SEC's defensive line strength as the primary reason offenses aren't as wide open as they were in the Big 12 during his time at Texas.
Speaking of Texas, he says he was proud and appreciative to be named Mack Brown's coach-in-waiting, but that "when Jeremy Foley and the University of Florida call, you listen."
An extremely SEC moment occurred when a reporter dropped his mic while addressing the coach, who replied, "Just holler at me. I can hear you."
Who's your SEC East pick? Muschamp says Florida has a "very good chance to make it to Atlanta."
On the subject of rebuilding a program, the coach said he implemented some new strength training elements but has largely proceeded on an item-by-item basis. He was asked more than once about attrition, saying Florida will cross-train defensive linemen to help supplement depth.
Muschamp was asked to compare Florida and Texas recruiting, emphasizing the increased competition in his new locale due to the (sort of) comparable resources enjoyed by unnamed in-state rivals.
He was asked multiple times about Nick Saban's influence on his coaching style, first opting to talk about coaches besides just Saban and second detailing Saban's "total program management" as the key pickup. He also mentioned former Auburn DCs Wayne Hall and Bill Oliver as strong influences. When asked whether his close relationships with Saban and Jimbo Fisher makes rivalries awkward, he joked, "Well, I wouldn't say we get along all that well," saying he treats it as a brotherly competition.
Asked about how hands-on he'll be with X's and O's, he explained he still plans to handle defense and special teams, from meetings to the sidelines, as it brings him joy. Lots of things bring Will Muschamp joy, and may he continue bringing SEC Media Days joy for quite some time.
For more SEC, head to Team Speed Kills. For more on SEC Media Days, stay tuned to SBNation.com's streaming coverage, plus SB Nation Atlanta's as well. Here's the complete 2011 SEC Media Days TV schedule.