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Before long, pressurized Florida will swamp Muschamp too

by | Special to CBSSports.com

Six years.

That's my over-under on how long Will Muschamp lasts as head football coach at the University of Florida. Not because he'll get fired -- heck, no -- Muschamp likely will have put at least one Southeastern Conference and/or national championship bauble in the trophy case by then, but because he'll have Meyer-ized himself.

Muschamp is in his first season in charge of the Gators in relief of Urban Meyer, who quit after, yessir, six years on the job. Meyer cited health concerns as one of the reasons for giving up the high-paying and high-profile gig. It was consuming him, and the tightly wound Meyer looked calm in game-day sideline comparison to the animated Muschamp.

And now it's Alabama Week with the Crimson Tide -- coached by Muschamp mentor Nick Saban -- coming to The Swamp for a Saturday night visit that undoubtedly will send the new leader of the Gators into various spasmodic fits of glee and anger depending upon circumstance in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Here, for example, is Muschamp on Muschamp Gone Wild from his days as defensive coordinator at Texas where he was head coach-in-waiting behind Mack Brown before Florida beckoned:

"My wife doesn't really like it very much. You've got to find the right buttons to get the guys to play. Our job is to do the best we can do for our football players. That's acting like an idiot at times, and that's a good job description for me, I guess."

No apologies, in other words.

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Muschamp went bonkers when leaving the field at halftime against Tennessee earlier this month -- the Gators held a 17-6 lead at the time, by the way -- while berating officials during a long-running tirade.

"I was upset about a bunch of things," Muschamp said in simplistic post-game explanation.

There had been a hilarious episode against Alabama-Birmingham a week earlier when Muschamp went to the ground on hands and knees using his headset as a prop to demonstrate a play for an official's edification. The Gators were on their way to a 39-0 victory.

"Coach is always looking out for us," is how Gators quarterback John Brantley put it.

The same thing can be said of most coaches on any level in any sport, of course, and it seems especially true of the most successful ones. But the level of Muschamp's personal investment runs particularly deep.

He broke his tibia and fibula back in his days as a high school baseball player, for example, and had a 17-inch steel rod inserted in his leg to facilitate healing. That rod is kept on display in Muschamp's office these days as a message to players about overcoming adversity.

So, how amped might Muschamp, who was a Saban assistant on staffs at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins, be when standing across the field from him?

It was Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley who told me soon after having hired Muschamp that the coach "is cut from the same cloth as Urban."

Meyer was 41 years old when he coached his first game with the Gators, and went on to win two national championships; Muschamp was 40 when the Gators beat Florida Atlantic to open this season.

But can Muschamp last longer than Meyer did in the UF cauldron?

If the lines of communication between the men were as open and honest as they were reported to have been during the transition period, then the subject of health should have come up.

Here's hoping.

"Six years at Florida," Meyer said, "equals 40 years of life."

He spoke those words after his Gator finale in an Outback Bowl win against Penn State.

"I know Urban needs [a break]," his wife, Shelley, said that same day. "He needs something less intense."

Muschamp's wife, Carol, probably will say something similar to her husband ... and likely sooner than either of them now can imagine.


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