Do I think the Gators have had an impressive season? No. Do I think that his coaching has earned him the privilege to continue on in his career at Florida? No. Do I think he’s surprised by his firing? No.
However, I also don’t think it’s fair for Coach Muschamp to have been booed by his own fans several weeks back on our own field. I don’t think it’s right that the entirety of our team’s losses be attributed to his poor coaching. I don’t think it’s acceptable that following a loss, every social media outlet on the internet is overflowing with posts calling for his firing or worse — threatening him.
Coach Muschamp (I will continue to call him that, as he is still our coach for two more games) is a man with a family. He has two young sons who idolize him. These two young sons have had to worry about their dad’s job, their future, where they might be moving, leaving their friends and beloved Gators behind. Most of us surely didn’t have to worry about such big, scary things when we were kids.
Coach Muschamp has taken heat on the field, heat at the press conferences after the game, heat in the grocery store when fans question him about coaching decisions and, I’m sure, heat at home when pressed about what the future might hold. Coach Muschamp is a human, and I’m sure at this point, he’s tired.
And with today’s headlines, he is both tired and fired. I recognize that part of the territory that comes with a multimillion dollar salary at a multimillion dollar football program is public scrutiny. However, in the wake of Jeremy Foley’s announcement, I think the public (specifically, the Gator Nation) could be a bit more gracious.
Already, I have seen tweets saying things like “Our prayers have been answered!”
Really? This is what you were praying for? A fan base that alienates its coach and then celebrates his termination?
Here’s what I’m praying for. I’m praying that Coach Muschamp can have a successful last couple of games at Florida. I’m praying that he can find a job where his family will thrive and his team will win. (Let’s not forget what the Gators looked like in 2012 — he can coach a team like that again.) I am praying that when all is said and done, and Coach Muschamp packs his bags and moves away from his hometown, he doesn’t have hard feelings toward the Gators, the team he grew up watching and spent four years of his life coaching. I’m praying that the Gator Nation will be a bit kinder and more compassionate toward whoever our next coach is, in all kinds of weather.
I am writing this as someone with skin in the game. I graduated from the University of Florida. I went to four years of football games. I have a drawer full of orange and blue, and I still live and work in Gainesville. It’s not as though I’m apathetic to the Gators’ football record. I want to see the program succeed because I want to see my school succeed. I want a sold-out stadium so that the university has more funds to put back into its campus and faculty. I want to see a strong Gator football team so alumni will continue to come back for games and put their dollars into Gainesville’s economy. I want to see a winning football season because I love the Florida Gators.
But with all this being said, my heart aches today for Coach Muschamp. I want to see the Gators get back to the winning, national championship-caliber team we once were, but I want to see us do it with positive attitudes, hard work ethic and unwavering support for our players and coaches.
Yesterday, I sat row 9 on the 50-yard-line and watched my favorite football team lose. Win or lose, though, I was singing the alma mater at the end of the game and thinking how great it still is to be a Florida Gator. Against Eastern Kentucky and Florida State, I will continue to stand by my team–and its current coaches.
I ask only that you, my fellow Gators, stand by me.