Only candidate Foley interviewed
By MARK LONG and JIM VERTUNO
AP Sports Writers
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has left the Longhorns to take over at Florida.
Muschamp will succeed Urban Meyer, who won two national championships in six seasons with the Gators but resigned Wednesday after a 7-5 season.
The 39-year-old Muschamp spent three seasons at Texas, where he was the head-coach-in-waiting to replace Mack Brown.
Muschamp, who lived in Gainesville for 10 years as a child, said taking over the Florida program is a “dream come true.”
“I grew up watching the Gators and whatever other SEC team was on television,” Muschamp said in a statement. “I have great memories watching SEC football with my father on Saturdays and playing football in the back yard with my two brothers right here in Gainesville.”
Muschamp will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday evening.
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said Muschamp was the “only person we met with and the only person we offered the job to.”
Foley said Muschamp’s familiarity with the Southeastern Conference -- he graduated from Georgia and coached at Auburn and LSU -- was an important factor. So was his knowledge of recruiting in Florida.
“We wanted a candidate who was high energy and had been on the big stage,” Foley said in a statement. “We wanted a candidate who was respected by his players and his peers, and we wanted someone who had a passion for the University of Florida. Coach Muschamp is all of those things and more.”
Muschamp was already one of the hottest names among assistant coaches when he was hired at Texas before the 2008 season.
Internet video clips of his expletive-filled tirades on the sidelines at Auburn excited Longhorns fans. He had alternate nicknames of “Coach Boom!” for his noted enthusiasm and “Coach Blood” because he once ignored blood pouring down his face after a cut in the first game of the 2008 season.
Muschamp was only 11 games into his stint at Texas when the university surprisingly announced a deal to nearly double his salary to $900,000 and make him the head-coach-in-waiting behind Brown.
Brown was behind the move but insisted he had no plans to retire, leaving some to wonder if Muschamp would have the patience to put in the years at Texas before taking over.
“More than anything, I want to thank Mack Brown,” Muschamp said. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity he gave me and my family and all of the guidance. He is the best in the business, and I can’t say enough about everything he did to help prepare me for this. He really wanted it to work out for me to be the future coach at Texas, but this was just an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
“It’s close to my family and my wife’s family, and like Texas, Florida is just a tremendous place in a great conference. I wouldn’t have left for any other job.”
Muschamp’s defense was key in Texas’ 25-2 run from 2008-09 that saw the Longhorns rise to No. 1 for a month in 2008 and play for the BCS national championship last season.
The defense faltered badly in 2010, however, as Texas went 2-5 at home and suffered its first losing season in 13 years with dismal losses to UCLA, Iowa State and Kansas State.
“We were planning and hoping Will was going to be the next head coach at Texas, but obviously things didn’t work out that way,” Brown said. “We respect his decision, and we are really happy for Will and (his wife) Carol. He is a great coach and will be a good fit for Florida.”
Brown now must find his fifth defensive coordinator since 2003. The last three, Greg Robinson (Syracuse), Gene Chizik (Auburn) and Muschamp, all left Texas for head coaching jobs.
“Our commitment remains that we will build the best coaching staff in the country and we will begin a nationwide search immediately,” Brown said.