AUBURN, Ala. — Well before Will Muschamp ever became Auburn's defensive coordinator, he was the people's choice. Shortly after it was announced he wouldn't be returning as Florida's coach, Auburn fans pegged Muschamp as the man they wanted to run the Tigers' defense in 2015. Those calls became even louder once it became official Ellis Johnson wouldn't return, as Auburn coach Gus Malzahn fired the veteran defensive coordinator one day after a 55-44 loss in the Iron Bowl.
Now, with Muschamp in control of the defense, the expectations are through the roof. Many hope — if not expect — to see similar results to the last time Muschamp was on the Plains, when he directed units that finished in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense in 2006 and 2007.
Some coaches entering their first year with a team would try to temper those kinds of goals ever-so-slightly, lest supporters end up disappointed at the end of a season.
But Muschamp would have none of that.
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Quite the opposite.
In fact, he's fine with people raising the bar even higher.
"I think the expectations are what they are. We expect to play for a championship at Auburn and that's why you want to be a part of that," he said last month. "I'll let the expectations go where they want."
In Muschamp's view, it's all about embracing what's expected. At Auburn, that means being in the hunt for a championship. Now. Not next year or two years down the line. So for him, fans can expect what they want, no matter how grandiose. All he wants to see from his players is proper effort and execution.
Everything else rests on him and his coaching staff.
"It's our job as coaches to make sure our players can execute the game plan each week against each opponent in the Southeastern Conference, which is always difficult to do," he said. "But you're going to see a team that's going to play hard, that's going to play with passion and have fun playing the game."