|Florida coach Will Muschamp is CBSSports.com's SEC Coach of the Year. (US Presswire)|
Coming off a 7-6 (3-5 SEC) season in 2011, second-year Florida coach Will Muschamp didn't lose faith in his mission of getting the Gators back near the top of the SEC. That's why he's been named the CBSSports.com SEC Coach of the Year, finishing just ahead of Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin.
"We did not get the results we wanted on the field," Muschamp said at SEC Media Day in July. "I feel like in the locker room, the weight room, the attitude of our football team, the discipline of the team -- we're headed in the right direction."
He was correct.
That direction led to a tougher, more physical and overall better team in 2012. It's a team that finished 11-1 (7-1 SEC) and is now set to face Louisville in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.
Perhaps more impressive than the record was the way the Gators found ways to win. A team that was often worn down in the second half in 2011 became a unit that specialized in finding a way to win.
That started at Texas A&M on Sept. 8. Florida entered the game 0-5 under Muschamp when trailing at the half. The Aggies took a 17-10 lead into the break, but the Gators overcame it for a 20-17 win. And that was before we even knew of the coming heroics of the Aggies and freshman QB Johnny Manziel.
The Gators had other impressive wins over the likes of LSU, South Carolina and Florida State. They had ugly wins over Bowling Green, Missouri and Louisiana-Lafayette. But what mattered was that they did win. Only a 17-9 loss to Georgia dented their record.
Still, had Notre Dame not finished the season undefeated, the Gators might be playing for the national title in January.
They'll have to "settle" for the Sugar Bowl instead. Mission accomplished, we'd say.
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