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Will Muschamp: "You can work really hard in life, but you've got to produce."


Will Muschamp started what was in effect his final press conference as Florida's head coach with a joke. Dressed in his orange and blue coaching shirt and following the besuited Bernie Machen and Jeremy Foley, Muschamp opened, "I guess I'm a little underdressed for the occasion. I apologize for that."

Muschamp never denied the expectations placed upon him this season, not at SEC Media Days in July, not as the season unfolded and not Monday when his ouster at Florida became officially official. "We just didn't win enough football games. We certainly had some opportunities," Muschamp said. "You've got to produce. If you're a salesman, you've got to sell. If you're a football coach, you've got to win."

In many ways, the Florida program Muschamp leaves behind is diametrically opposed to the one he inherited in December 2010. Whereas Florida was fresh off one of the most successful runs in program history with a national championship in 2008 and a 13-1 season in 2009, the team was by all accounts a mess off the field. Four years later, Florida football is incredibly healthy in the locker room and in the classroom, but isn't winning enough on the field to push the Will Muschamp era into a fifth season.

"From my perspective as president, I have treasrured the last four years of working with Will. He was asked to develop a program built on values. He was asked to develop young men. He has done that," said Florida president Bernie Machen, noting that Muschamp placed 68 players on academic All-SEC teams and the team GPA is as high as it's ever been.

Athletics director Jeremy Foley also noted the program ran well internally, both inside the locker room and within the athletics department. "Everybody in the program was in the foxhole with him. Will Muschamp is a good person. That's why this is so tough for everybody," he said. "On a personal level, I'll miss working with Will every day. He embodies everything that's right with college athletics. The environment inside our building is better than it's ever been."

Muschamp was relaxed, light and candid in his near half hour at the podium on Monday afternoon. In short, he created a standard for how coaches can handle this incredibly painful, awkward situation moving forward. "It's frustrating to see guys stand in this situation say they wouldn't have changed anything. 'Well, you'd have gotten fired again.'," Muschamp said. "Sure there's things you'd do differently. There's no question about that."

Foley answered questions about the ongoing coaching search and the type of person he sees replacing Muschamp. With the usual caveats that he hasn't talked to anybody and wouldn't address rumors during the search, Foley admitted the next head coach will have a history of success on the offensive side of the ball, where the Florida dynasty was built under Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer and the side of the ball Muschamp never conquered. "We'd obviously like an individual that's been successful on the offensive side of the ball," Foley said. "That's what the Gator Nation wants and we're going to try to provide it for them." (As for other housekeeping matters: Muschamp's last game at Florida will be in Tallahassee on Nov. 29, and Foley said he'd like to have a new head coach in place by Christmas. He has not decided who would coach Florida in a bowl game should the Gators qualify with one more victory.)

Taking a cue from the man he'd just dismissed, Foley acknowledged the pressure surrounding him with his fourth football head coaching hire. Florida is located in arguably the most fertile recruiting territory in college football but, not coincidentally, located in inarguably the most competitive neighborhood in the sport. Florida State is the defending national champion and riding a 26-game winning streak. Alabama has been the best program in college football for nearly a decade now. Auburn played for the national title ten months ago. Georgia isn't going anywhere. Tennessee is on the upswing. The next head coach needs to win and do so immediately. "We understand how important this hire is for the university," Foley said. "Pressure, that's part of the gig. Fans blaming me because we're not successful is part of it, too."

Foley was asked if he felt Florida had fallen behind in the ongoing facilities arms race, and flatly denied it. Everything a coach needs to succeed, the Gators' brass believes, is already in place - including talented players. "We've got a good football team coming back," Muschamp said. "They've got a deep and talented roster, so don't let that new guy tell you he a'int got no players."

Florida's next head coach won't have any excuses for not performing. No one understands that better than the man he's replacing.