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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Embattled Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp must be feeling better about his job security after receiving votes of confidence from university president Bernie Machen, athletic director Jeremy Foley and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on Wednesday.
"As athletic director, I'm a thousand percent convinced that Will Muschamp is the guy to lead this football program," Foley said in a statement posted on the school's athletics website. "Nothing has changed in what we feel about Will Muschamp from the day we hired him. Everyone around here wants the same thing. We want to do what is right for the University of Florida.
|Will Muschamp needs two wins in the final three games against South Carolina, Georgia Southern and Florida State to keep alive the Gators' 22-year streak of playing in a bowl game.|
"We understand that this football season has not gone the way any of us wanted it to go, certainly not the way our fans wanted it to go and, most of all, not the way Will Muschamp wanted it to go."
With four straight losses, Florida (4-5, 3-4 SEC) has fallen below .500. The Gators were beaten soundly 34-17 by Vanderbilt on Saturday on homecoming. It was Vandy's first win at Florida since 1945.
Muschamp, in his third season as the Florida coach, has a 22-13 record and is 13-10 in the SEC and 1-1 in bowl games. He has five years remaining on his contract at an average salary of $2,928,791.
"We have a history of being successful. We have a history of fixing things when they need to be fixed, and that is what is going to happen here," Foley said. "And Coach Muschamp is the one that will fix it."
Machen echoed those sentiments in his statement.
"I want the Gator Nation to know that I have full confidence in Coach Muschamp and his leadership of the football program," he said.
With difficult games remaining against No. 10 South Carolina on Saturday and No. 2 Florida State on Nov. 30, the Gators are in a fight to continue a 22-year streak of going to a bowl game.
We have a history of being successful. We have a history of fixing things when they need to be fixed, and that is what is going to happen here. And Coach Muschamp is the one that will fix it.” -- Jeremy Foley, Florida AD
"I'm fine," Muschamp said Monday when asked about the personal toll of a difficult season. "I'm a football coach. I go to work every day trying to find ways to get this football team better and get them to improve on how we play. That's part of your job whether you're 9-1 at this point or you're where we are.
"It's frustrating. It's very frustrating, but you work and people are dependent on you to do a good job, do a good job for the players and do a good job for the university. That's my job."
The endorsements for Muschamp began Wednesday morning with Spurrier, who won the Heisman Trophy at Florida as a player and guided the Gators to their first national championship as a coach.
"I admire the way he coaches his team, runs the show down there," Spurrier said during the weekly SEC teleconference. "Last year, I think he was SEC Coach of the Year. I think after they beat FSU they were third in the country in that BCS poll, and if Notre Dame had lost to Southern Cal, I believe Florida would have been in the national championship game last year.
"Obviously this year they've had a rash of injuries all over the team that's really hurt them. But they've still got plenty of ballplayers and they're still a very hard-nosed, physical-type team."
Florida has lost 10 players for the season, including seven starters. Quarterback Jeff Driskel broke a bone in his lower right leg early in Week 3 against Tennessee. Florida's best player, senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley, tore his ACL in practice days later. Tailback Matt Jones suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee during a Week 6 loss at LSU. Three starting offensive tackles have missed significant time with injuries this season.
The list kept growing, as Muschamp announced this week that starting middle linebacker Antonio Morrison would miss the rest of the season with torn cartilage in his right knee.
Spurrier said he's never seen that many injuries on one of his teams.
"Our teams, for some reason, we haven't had a whole bunch of injuries," he said. "I don't know why, but I don't think I've ever seen quite as many as they've had."