Donovan sees improved Florida football team, offers support of Muschamp

Florida men's basketball coach Billy Donovan (left) offered support of football coach Will Muschamp.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — One is coming off a four-win season. The other off a trip to the Final Four.

So no surprise to anyone, Gators football coach Will Muschamp is not as popular as UF basketball coach Billy Donovan these days.

Donovan is in the prime of his career, set to enter his 19th season at UF fresh off a 36-win season, a fourth trip to the Final Four and a season that featured a school-record 30-game win streak.

Meanwhile, Muschamp is preparing the 3-2 Gators for Saturday’s Homecoming game against Missouri and in need of a win for the Gators to stay in the thick of the SEC East race.

Donovan gave a thoughtful answer when a reporter asked him what it’s like for his program to have more success than the football program in recent years.

"I don’t really look at it that way," Donovan said. "I think the one thing that Jeremy (Foley) has done here is that we’re all in this together. It’s not about (who has the most success). I’ve got an enormous amount of respect for Will.

"Obviously for him, I look at things a little bit differently. Certainly he took over a situation that was really, really challenging, in my opinion. I thought he imposed his style of play on his team. The year before, I saw an unbelievable change inside of his team from a physical standpoint from year one to year two.

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"The way they had to handle all the injuries last year was something, to me, that was just totally insurmountable to ever overcome. You can’t lose the level of players — and I respected the way Will handled it because he never used that as an excuse — but the truth is you can’t lose that many good players and be good. You just can’t. You just don’t plug guys in and guys step up."

Donovan invited Muschamp to speak to his team over the summer about that same topic. In the case of his team, Donovan is searching for ways to replace seniors Patric Young, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguete and Casey Prather.

"There were times last year where I watched and you saw them kind of — I think Will talked about this, ‘Woe is me,’ all that stuff — their team (this year) is not that way at all," Donovan said. "I think the guy has done an incredible job of changing the culture in terms of his team from one year to the next in a very positive way. 

"From a coaching standpoint, where his team is at emotionally now, it’s really impressive. I look at things a little bit differently. I know a lot of times people look just at results, but if you look at the transformation inside their team, to me watching them play this year compared to last year, it’s night and day. I don’t know anything about football, strategies and schemes. I’m just talking about how they play the game."