Perhaps the most uncomfortable feeling one man can have in the presence of another (at least in the context of a civilized conversation) is when Man A gives the distinct impression that he would just as well mutilate Man B as converse with him.
Man A at SEC Media Days on Wednesday was Will Muschamp. Perhaps you have heard of him – former Texas Coach-In-Waiting? Current Florida “Spurrier 3.0”? Mr. Chest Bump?
Yeah, that’s him
Muschamp is also the guy gracing what is now the infamous “Death Stare” poster distributed by his new university. And he put that million-watt death glare on full display for his first SEC Media Days appearance. He glared. He made comments that got laughs without actually meaning to make a joke. He glared. Pretty sure he didn’t smile. He glared some more.
And while Muschamp descends almost in a straight line on the Coaching Family Tree from Saint Belichick in New England and Lord Saban in Tuscaloosa, he has yet to develop the slightly snarky, mostly “who gives a flip” mentality when he talks to the media or, well, anyone he could give less than a single rip about.
Therefore, the only conclusion one can draw about Will Muschamp is that he is crazy.
And we offer the following actual transcripts from Wednesday as exhibits:
* On the status of star tailback Jeffrey Demps, who is running with the U.S. National Team overseas, “Based on our conversations, he’ll be back. I don’t deal in rumors or message boards. I don’t know any good ball coaches that do that.”
* When pressed on whether Demps will return, “Well, he’s in Italy right now. When I deal with people, I like to deal eyeball to eyeball, talk to them face to face. That’s been hard to do with some of the traveling he’s been doing. I ain’t never been to Italy.”
* On having friendships with now-rival coaches Derek Dooley at Tennessee and Nick Saban at Alabama, “I wouldn’t say we all get along that well. Again, I don’t have any problem with having great respect and liking somebody that we’re competing against. I played in the backyard with my brothers growing up. I wanted to beat them worse than anybody. I still love ’em, they’re my brothers, but I wanted to win as bad as anything.”
* On managing high expectations of Florida fans, whom wouldn’t be all that satisfied with an 8-5 season, “Yeah, they’ve told me.”
Muschamp’s fierce attitude as a defensive coordinator at Texas under Mack Brown hasn’t been lost on his new players, either.
“He recruited me when he was at Auburn, so I kinda knew him a little bit,” Florida defensive end William Green said. “But that first meeting was a little intimidating. He laid down the law right there and then. He basically said you are either on the bus or not. And those who weren’t need to get off. We really don’t know what is going to happen in the fall. I guess there is a healthy fear.”
So Florida receiver Deonte Thompson, is Muschamp crazy? “He is a wild one, no doubt,” Thompson said. “An energetic guy, coming in with chest bumps and the whole deal. I said ‘Wow’ from the very start. He is a great guy. You can go talk to him about anything. But he is very passionate about what he does. He loves his players.”
Count returning starting quarterback/2010 tackling dummy John Brantley as one of those players who also senses the passion emanating from Muschamp. “Coach has, at times, been really animated in practice. I am sure he will ramp it up for the season,” Brantley said. “I think that is a great quality for him. You need that sometime from coaches. He has a great background and is a great leader.”