It has been a busy last 24 hours or so in my household. On Friday night, my family and I went to the Georgia Dome to see the AAAA high school football championship game between Chattahoochee and Starr’s Mill. On Saturday, the four of us went and got a Christmas tree, which we put up in the living room while the Army-Navy game played in the background. Later on Saturday evening, I got together for supper with some old friends from college.
A small group of us met at a local restaurant, where we ate and caught up with one another, and, although the Heisman Trophy presentation and the ESPN "Pony Excess" documentary were visible on the television screens in the background, we paid them little mind.
At some point in the evening, one of our number---for the sake of recording my own personal "where were you when . . . ?" moment for posterity, I will note that it was Jeff Rogers---went on-line on his cell phone and saw the news, already known to you and reported here previously, that Will Muschamp would replace Urban Meyer as the head coach at Florida.
In my defense, I was trying to relax and catch up with some old friends, and I only just adjusted to Urban Meyer’s departure earlier in the day, so I initially had a little trouble processing the news. Was it good news? Was it bad news? What did it mean for Georgia? What did it mean for my own very fond memories of Coach Muschamp as a former Bulldog player?
On the one hand, I hailed Will Muschamp as a first-rate hire when he became the head-coach-in-waiting at Texas and considered him the best candidate when the Mark Richt "hot seat" talk was at its hottest. On the other hand, Jeremy Foley had two good options with ties to the program and head coaching experience in Dan Mullen and Charlie Strong, yet he ended up with a first-time head coach instead. The truth is that we don’t know how good he will be, but I don’t mind telling you that I think Will Muschamp will be very, very good.
That thought brought me to the next one: Will Muschamp was a damn good ‘Dawg, but must that sentiment now be expressed strictly in the past tense? Switching sides is not uncommon in this business---Vince Dooley played at Auburn but coached at Georgia; Mark Richt played at Miami but coached at Florida State; Will Muschamp played at Georgia but coached at Auburn---but does Coach Muschamp’s willingness to take over as the head man for one of his alma mater’s most hated rivals push him over into Pat Dye territory?
I wrestled with that one for a while as I sat there with my friends, but, eventually, "Pony Excess" ended and "SportsCenter" began. I couldn’t hear it, but I could see it, and, when the news was reported on television, the Worldwide Leader projected over the sports anchor’s shoulder a photograph of Will Muschamp, superimposed over Florida’s gator-head logo.
The image literally turned my stomach. I didn’t have to get up from the table and run to the bathroom or anything, but the sight of Coach Muschamp’s mug paired with the Sunshine State Saurians’ emblem caused my gastric acids to churn, and I genuinely felt myself become a little nauseous.
William Larry Muschamp was a damn good ‘Dawg, but now he’s a damn dirty Gator who must be defeated. We missed our chance to put Urban Meyer in his place when the opportunity presented itself; now, we must wish ill on a man who previously was one of our own. If you can’t quite bring yourself to feel contempt for Will Muschamp---and I can understand if you can’t---view it as a rescue mission: in order to restore Will Muschamp’s soul, we must get him away from Gainesville, and that means beating him routinely until he gets fired.
Either way, Will Muschamp ceased to be one of us and became one of them on December 11, 2010, the date we abbreviate "12/11/10," in a progression that calls to mind a countdown that starts "12 . . . 11 . . . 10 . . ." and ends with a "Boom!" Feel free to fill in the epithet that follows. Given the meaning of the "mater" in "alma mater," the vulgarity is appropriate under the circumstances.