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Florida Football

Saturday officially brings the Muschamp era at Florida to a close

November 7, 2018
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It’s only been four years since Will Muschamp was fired as the head coach at the University of Florida. It feels like decades.

So much has transpired in Gainesville since; a coaching change, then another. The loss of a star quarterback, the play of six other quarterbacks after him and once proud defense, mostly of Muschamp’s making, take a hit. Two league championship game appearances, a couple of abysmal seasons. All in all, enough storylines to fill a book comprising itself of separate era’s.

Despite the immense changes that have made up the past four years, the Will Muschamp era in Gainesville has kept a tie to the present. On Saturday though, it will finally conclude.

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There are only six players left on this roster that played for Muschamp as well, all redshirt seniors.

RJ Raymond, C’yontai Lewis, Khairi Clark, Moral Stephens, Kavaris Harkless and Jorge Powell.

For Raymond, he knows this game isn’t as much of a marquee event for the players as it was the past two years. It really only means something to a small group of guys. As such this preparation—both on the field and emotionally—hasn’t changed from the normal week-to-week operation. But for those six guys, there’s still something to look forward to when the meet in the middle of the field after the game.

“It’s gonna be a fun weekend, especially with all the guys that we’ve coached—or played here for, you know Coach Campbell, strength staff guy, Mike P [Peterson], he’s with the linebackers over there, George Wynn [Director of Football Operations] and even Coach Muschamp and even—Coach Champ’s got a bunch of people that were here with me. So it’s gonna be fun seeing all those guys for the last time playing against them.

“It’s not really making that big of a difference as far as the preparation goes or anything like that. We’re preparing to win a game against a very good South Carolina team. It’s just, it means that much more to us, the six guys that are still left to go out there and get a win but it’s gonna be fun seeing him.

“You know Coach Muschamp’s a great guy. He’s always showed us love and waited for us after the games we have played him at South Carolina and mentioned to tell us how much he you know loves us and stuff like that. So he’s a great guy; I’m very excited to go back and see him one last time.”

Raymond started his career at Florida as a linebacker before moving to the defensive line to help with depth. He eventually was moved to the offensive side of the ball to fill spots at fullback. But those first couple of years on other side of the ball afforded him a lot of time spent with the defensive minded Muschamp and his staff. Now in the offensive meetings with head coach Dan Mullen, he sees a lot of resemblances.

“With Coach Muschamp, honestly I see a lot of similarities between Coach Muschamp and Coach Mullen. I obviously spent more time with Coach McElwain than I did with Muschamp. There’s differences between Coach McElwain and Coach Mullen the way they run their programs. But Coach Mullen and Coach Muschamp are very —they run their programs very, very similarly.

“You’ve got to be accountable, you’ve got to show up on time with both Mullen and Muschamp and all the little details matter, and they’re gonna expect you to go as hard as you possibly can every single play, every single thing you do in the classroom, and the tutoring, especially out on the field with everything.”

Barring a sudden change, Muschamp will continue to return to Gainesville as the head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks. But unlike Steve Spurrier, it won’t be a homecoming every time (despite Muschamp actually growing up in Gainesville). Florida fans will grudgingly admit they are thankful for the success Champ found in 2012 and the incredible defensive talent he left behind that they can now claim in the NFL. But there isn’t that bond that will forever exist with Spurrier. Instead the bond has existed on the field, during Muschamps first return in 2016 (a Florida win at home) and the Gators trip to Columbia last year (a South Carolina win). After Saturday that last bit of tie will be gone.

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