- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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Will Muschamp has passed on his share of head coaching opportunities.
He was already next in line at one of the Taj Mahals of head coaching jobs. But on Saturday, he landed perhaps the Taj Mahal when Florida named him as its next head coach.
The fact that Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley would hire somebody without previous head coaching experience is surprising on one front. But, then, Foley has demonstrated in the past that he's not afraid to go down a path nobody else is expecting.
Remember Ron Zook?
Obviously, that didn't work out great for the Gators, but Foley sees Muschamp as the right fit for a Florida program that came off the tracks this season following one of the more dominant runs we may ever see in the SEC again.
Muschamp, Texas' defensive coordinator and the Longhorns' coach-in-waiting, was one of the hottest commodities among assistant coaches these past couple of years and was already making nearly $1 million per year. He said no thanks to Tennessee a year ago.
With the Longhorns struggling this season and not even making a bowl game, that didn't deter Foley, who immediately focused on Muschamp.
Why is Muschamp a fit?
For one, he knows the SEC, having worked as a defensive coordinator at both Auburn and LSU. He played at Georgia and learned under Alabama coach Nick Saban, who's obviously not a bad guy to learn under, and Saban has said that Muschamp was one of the finest assistant coaches he's ever had. Muschamp was Saban's defensive coordinator on LSU's 2003 national championship team.
Here's the other thing about Muschamp: He brings an edge, a degree of toughness or whatever you want to call it that this program can use right now.
For everything Meyer did right -- and two national championships and three BCS bowl appearances in six years is about as right as it gets -- the Gators had more than their share of off-the-field incidents and arrests under Meyer.
Muschamp will tackle that issue head on. That's his style.
Don't be surprised if his staff also has a distinct SEC flavor. Even though he's making the move from Texas, Muschamp is an SEC guy.
Some will say the Gators are taking a risk by bringing in an assistant for such a high-profile job. Perhaps Muschamp is taking a risk by walking away from the Texas gig when the keys to that program were waiting for him in his top drawer.
Either way, Foley got the guy he felt like was the best fit and a guy who knows his way around this conference.
12hSam Khan and Greg Ostendorf