College Station mayor talks Muschamp
June, 5, 2012
By Dave Wilson | ESPN.com
Florida coach Will Muschamp is rarely shy about making his feelings heard.
One comment made to the Polk County Gator Club in Florida, however, was heard loud and clear by a mayor in Texas.
Muschamp, who served as Texas' defensive coordinator before taking the reins in Gainesville two years ago, had surprisingly kind words for his former rival, Texas A&M, upon its entrance into the SEC:
“It will be a very SEC-like atmosphere,” Muschamp said. “It’s one of the few places in the Big 12 that I would say that about.”
But then Muschamp fixed his steely gaze upon another target -- the home of A&M.
"You ever been to College Station?" he said. "It’ll be the only time you go.”
Nancy Berry, the mayor of College Station, couldn't let that pass. She decided to respond in video form.
Berry begins with the traditional Aggie greeting, saying "Howdy, Muschamp." She confesses that the barb hurt, but adds, "Coach, we're really excited to host you, your team, and as many Gator fans as you can bring with you to beautiful College Station.'' She promises to send a gift basket touting the area's positives.
Berry knows how the game is played. This is SEC football, and the smallest talking points (such as a coach's quote to a local booster club) carry a long way.
"Most coaches, if they say something, they say something about the other team. They don't mention the city the team plays in," Berry told ESPN Playbook. "So it was an opportunity to get a little good publicity and have some fun with it. And to invite the Gators to come spend their money here in College Station."
Berry doesn't need much politicking to get fans to the Florida-Texas A&M game. The game, on Sept. 8, is the Aggies' first SEC game, and is already a tough ticket.
"We have four seats to the game," Berry said of her family's tickets, "and those two extra Florida seats have been taken for a long time."
Although Berry -- who incidentally is the mother of ESPN fantasy sports guru Matthew Berry -- said she hasn't heard from Muschamp or anyone at Florida, she's been contacted by plenty of fans, including an attorney from Florida.
"I got an email it seemed like about 20 minutes after [the video] was posted, from a Gator fan who just really sent me a nice note. He said, 'Here I was thinking about the summer doldrums and you come up with this gem. We sometimes forget that it's supposed to be fun. It's just a game. Thanks for the reminder. You've got my vote every day except for Sept. 8,'" she said.
Berry is enjoying the opportunity to get the good word out about her city, and there's a chance we haven't heard the last from her. There's still the matter of Muschamp's actual visit on Sept. 8.
"We're talking about that," Berry said with a laugh. "We might place some signs around town that say, 'Howdy, Muschamp' or something like that."