Will Muschamp believes in a business-like approach to football. He does not believe he is a business man.
“I have been around coaches who were more of the CEO type and that was probably their strength,” South Carolina’s first-year coach said. “I don’t think that’s mine.”
When Muschamp first became a head coach at the University of Florida in 2011, longtime NFL coach Bill Parcells tried to paint him a picture of his new job.
“He said, ‘You know that big chute they have on construction projects that dumps all the trash from the roof into a dumpster on the street?’ ” Muschamp recalled. “He said, ‘That dumpster’s your desk now.’ ”
In Muschamp’s four years at Florida, and in his first year at South Carolina, he has tried to keep himself from being buried under that pile of outside responsibilities and still work closely with his team on the field. It’s a lesson he took from former boss Nick Saban, the Alabama coach who remains heavily involved in his team’s defensive preparation.
“That’s something that (Saban) and I have talked a lot about, lending your expertise to be able to positively affect your organization where you can be most effective,” Muschamp said.
There is a growing trend of head coaches who are trying to get back to their roots in the film room while simultaneously holding down the corner office. When he was fired as head coach at Georgia, Mark Richt immediately said he would be more involved in the day-to-day offensive planning in his next job, which ended up being at his alma mater in Miami.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn blamed his team’s 2015 offensive struggles, which led to his worst season as a head coach (7-6, 2-6 SEC), on the fact that he became too much of a CEO and drifted too far away from the day-to-day coaching.
“At the end of the day, I’m a football coach,” Malzahn said. “That’s my strength, being on the field and coaching an offense. After you get done with the season and you’re not as successful as you'd like, you evaluate things. One thing that really hit me pretty hard is that I got to be more active with the daily Xs and Os and coaching that goes with that. That’s what I look at as my strength. I’m looking forward to getting back in the middle of things and enjoying the actual coaching on the field.”
Muschamp is trying not to drift too far from his roots in the first place. He has been in nearly every defensive meeting since arriving at South Carolina although the meetings are run by defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson, senior linebacker T.J. Holloman said.
“He’s always there, looming over. He’s very hands-on,” Holloman said. “TRob tells us what to do, the schemes for the day, but Coach Muschamp is there just watching. He’s in our meetings, the offensive meetings, the team meetings. He’s everywhere.”
It’s the same on the practice field, freshman defensive end Daniel Fennell said.
“He'll come into the D-line, he'll come to the outside linebackers, he'll come to the Bucks, he'll go the linebackers, he'll go the safeties, he'll go to the corners,” Fennell said. “He knows the defense inside and out. If you bust on any level, he knows what you did wrong, he knows how you did wrong and what you need to do right. He knows it.”
Robinson, who is in his first year as a coordinator at age 35, doesn’t feel crowded by his boss, he said. Robinson has worked as Muschamp’s defensive backs coach at Muschamp’s last two stops, Auburn and Florida.
“He’s very hands-on. We do this together,” Robinson said. “Coach (Lance) Thompson is very hands-on. Coach (Coleman) Hutzler is very hands-on. This ain’t me. This ain’t Will. This is us. This is our defense.”
It’s also Muschamp’s team, which makes for a heavy workload for the head coach.
“He’s in all the meetings with the guys. He’s around the guys. He’s spending time with the offense as well,” Robinson said. “He’s doing a really good job of balancing the two.”