GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The won-loss record has taken a tumble in 2013, but Jeremy Foley’s support of head football coach Will Muschamp has not.
Foley said Wednesday he is fully committed to Muschamp to lead the program into the future, despite the team’s 4-5 record.
“As athletic director, I’m a thousand percent convinced that Will Muschamp is the guy to lead this football program,” Foley said inside his office at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. “Nothing has changed in what we feel about Will Muschamp from the day we hired him.
“Everyone around here wants the same thing,” Foley continued. “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.
“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 was named UF’s head coach in December 2010. With three regular-season games remaining in his third season, Muschamp is 22-13 overall, including an 11-1 regular-season record in 2012 and Sugar Bowl berth. The Gators knocked off four teams ranked in the Top 10 last season and climbed to No. 2 in the polls before a loss to Georgia.
Florida is coming off a 34-17 Homecoming loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday, dropping the Gators below .500 for the first time since 1992. The Gators travel to face No. 12-ranked South Carolina on Saturday.
“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.”
Despite the loss and fan criticism in recent weeks, Foley and UF President Bernie Machen made it clear Wednesday they remain firmly behind Muschamp, who was head coach-in-waiting at Texas prior to his arrival at Florida.
“I want the Gator Nation to know that I have full confidence in Coach Muschamp and his leadership of the football program,” Machen said.
Meanwhile, Foley wants Florida fans to remain patient as the 42-year-old Muschamp works to turn the program around in what has been an injury-plagued season for the Gators.
“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.”