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Will Muschamp says it's been great first week at Auburn
Dec. 19, 2014

Will Muschamp takes it all in as he studies Auburn's bowl practice

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Will Muschamp walked back in the Auburn Athletic Complex for the first time in years and spotted someone he knew who has seen them come and go.

"You're the first coach," the gentleman said, "who we've hired three times."

Welcome back, Will Muschamp, former Auburn graduate assistant, former Auburn defensive coordinator and, today, defensive coordinator again at Auburn. He was hired last Friday night and has been working ever since.

He's officially just watching football practice as Charlie Harbison directs the defense for the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1. But Muschamp has the credentials as one of the top defensive coaches in the nation and that gives him instant credibility. Though Muschamp is just watching, head coach Gus Malzahn says the defensive players are trying to impress their new coach.

"He's just trying to get to know our players, evaluate our current guys and our players have responded extremely well," Malzahn said.

Muschamp was Florida's head coach not so many weeks ago. He'll begin calling the defensive shots for Auburn beginning in the spring.

"I'm just trying to get to know the players better," Muschamp said. "The player-coach relationship is a two-way street. It's about trust and respect. The guys are going to see how hard we're willing to work for them to put them in the best situation to be successful both on and off the field."

Auburn's courtship of Muschamp began when it fired Ellis Johnson on Nov. 30 and about the time Muschamp was on vacation in the Dominican Republic. The distance didn't deter Malzahn. The courtship heated up when Muschamp returned.

Muschamp knew enough of Auburn to come home.

"This move was about, No. 1, coming back to a great place, and to work for Gus, a guy I have a lot of respect for," Muschamp said. "It was also about my family. Having my wife's parents an hour-an-a-half away, and my mom three or four hours away and all of our family nearby was important."

Muschamp could have sat out this coming season. Florida owes him more than $6 million. But a week or so of vacation convinced him he couldn't stay away.

"When you have an opportunity like this it was a very difficult to pass up," he said.

Muschamp did his homework. He checked out Auburn's defense during the courtship. 

"I watched a lot of game film before I came," he said, "We've got good enough talent for us to be fine."

Muschamp said his first week has "been great. The players have been great. The staff has been great."

The former head coach says he'll have no problem slipping back in a defensive coordinator role.

"I'm doing what I enjoy," Muschamp said. "I enjoyed being the head coach, but certainly some of those duties as head coach takes you away from your team a little bit. I enjoy being back in the meeting rooms more, not that I wasn't before because I was very involved, but to have the day-to-day position meetings, defensive team meetings and get on the field has been a lot of fun."

It didn't take long for defensive back Rudy Ford to figure him out.

"My impression is he's a very high intense guy. He loves to get after it, but he's been very observant," Ford said. 
"He's going up, hugging up players and everything whenever you make a good play and then he's also getting on you hard, so he's just intense."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter:



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