Print and Go Back ESPN.com: SEC [Print without images]

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Dooley, Muschamp are longtime SEC buds

By Edward Aschoff

DESTIN, Fla. -- Behind the bitter rivalries and fan base hatred, friendships are formed and (some) actually last in the SEC.

While you might not see it when the lights come on and the cleats dig into the grass, opposing coaches are known to befriend each other while their fanatical followers wage verbal –- even physical –- combat with each other.

Muschamp
Muschamp
Dooley
Dooley
For new Florida coach Will Muschamp, he’s made a habit of avoiding rubbing coaches the wrong way since he took over this year. He seems to have friends at just about every school in the South and is best pals with Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, who has a beach home with the Gators’ coach.

Can we get some trash talk already?

The Tennessee-Florida rivalry turned sweet for a few minutes as Volunteers coach Derek Dooley talked about the friendship he and Muschamp have had since their years as assistants LSU and with the Miami Dolphins.

Their friendship was first forged at LSU under head coach Nick Saban and Dooley said the fair amount of time they spent together is the main reason for them staying “good friends” throughout the years.

“Assistants who are together for that long, and certainly on Nick’s staff, you become pretty close because you spend a lot of time together,” Dooley said.

Muschamp agreed with Dooley, but went a step further, saying that their time –- and success –- under Saban also helped them ascend through the coaching ranks.

“People want the blueprint,” Muschamp said. “They want to see what’s happened before.”

Dooley said he and Muschamp kept in touch even after branching out and spoke to each other almost every week last season.

But with both in the same conference -- let alone the same division –- Dooley said the conversations have been shortened and less detailed.

“There will be a little change this year,” he said. “We still speak, of course, but both of us are a little more guarded in what we say just because of the competitive nature.

“At the end of the day it is extremely competitive and it’s hard for everybody to prosper, so we’ll how it goes.”

Let's see how those phone calls go after these two meet in Gainesville, Fla., this fall.