South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson will be in Houston on Sunday for Super Bowl LI in spirit. Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn had hoped they’d be there in person.
“He and I talked about it, and he tried to make sure TRob came, too, but TRob turned him down, too,” Muschamp said. “We’ll be with him there in spirit.”
Instead of going to see their former colleague coach in the biggest football game of his life, Muschamp and Robinson will stay in Columbia and be at the Gamecocks’ 7 a.m. workouts Monday morning. Muschamp, Robinson and Quinn all coached together at Florida in 2011 and 2012, but Muschamp and Quinn became close before then.
Quinn was out of work in 2005 after he had been fired as part of Dennis Erickson’s coaching staff with the San Francisco 49ers. That’s the same year Muschamp became the Miami Dolphins assistant head coach under Nick Saban, and Muschamp and Saban hired Quinn as the Dolphins defensive line coach.
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“We formed a very close friendship there,” Muschamp said. “He’s just a genuine, good person and a heck of a football coach.”
Muschamp was gone from the Dolphins after a year and Quinn coached there for two years, until Saban bolted to take the Alabama job. Quinn went on to be defensive line coach for the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks before Muschamp took the head coaching job at Florida and made him his defensive coordinator in 2011.
“He wanted an opportunity to be a coordinator, didn’t know when that would happen (in the NFL),” Muschamp said. “We’re very like minded in how we think defensively. I called him up and he was in.”
The Gators were fifth in the SEC in total defense in 2011 and second in 2012 before Quinn left to become the Seahawks defensive coordinator.
“Dan has a very uncommon ability to relate to anyone, whether you are a self-starter or you need a kick in the pants,” Muschamp said. “He has a very unique ability in my opinion to relate to everyone in the room. I don’t know if I’ve ever hard Dan Quinn raise his voice. He is a very unique individual in how he reaches people, does a phenomenal job.”
Quinn is in his second season with the Falcons, having gone 8-8 in 2015, his first season as head coach. Atlanta is 13-5 this season and will face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.
“Obviously he’s an outstanding defensive mind, a guy that I have tremendous respect for first of all as a person,” Muschamp said. “As a football coach, as good as I’ve worked with.”