Will Muschamp isn’t a big “Star Wars” fan, so forgive him for being unfamiliar with the term “padawan” — a Jedi’s apprentice.
Florida’s coach admitted to only watching Episodes IV and V of George Lucas’ epic, so he was a bit confused when asked Monday, in “Star Wars” terms, about his relationship with Alabama coach Nick Saban.
Reporter: “You kind of have a master vs. padawan thing going on between you and Nick.”
Muschamp: “What’s a padawan? … I don’t know what a padawan is. You didn’t call me a bad name, did you? I don’t speak French, either.”
No, coach, you weren’t called a bad name. But the question did raise an interesting analogy.
Saban is the Obi-Wan Kenobi to Muschamp’s Anakin Skywalker.
Saban gave Muschamp his first big-time gig when he hired him at LSU in 2001, and then promoted him to defensive coordinator the following season.
He groomed Muschamp and taught his protégé much of what he knows about being a head coach, from coaching philosophy to program management.
“Philosophically, we are on the same page about what we want to be defensively and from an identity standpoint,” Muschamp said. “He does a great job of managing his program top to bottom from recruiting, his philosophy, offense, defense, special teams and I have great respect for that.”
Muschamp’s ball-hawking, physical defense, his smashmouth, run-first offense with a game-managing quarterback and even his recruiting style are all influenced by Saban.
As is his ability to handle the media; just read his back-and-forth exchange on the Star Wars question again.
But one area Muschamp still needs to learn from his master is his sideline demeanor and ability to handle outside forces.
Saban has always been intense, but he has also been good at keeping an even-keel persona during games.
That, combined with the other coaching traits already mentioned, has led to success as a coach.
Meanwhile, Muschamp wears his emotions on his sleeves and has said he won’t change for anybody. Plenty of his players said they feed off his intensity on the sidelines.
But a belief of the Jedi is to remain emotionally detached — something Muschamp has not shown he is capable of.
From his berating of officials during games, to his outspoken response to the NCAA suspending defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd, Muschamp has been emotionally involved.
He is Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars saga.
And just like Anakin, who was supposed to be the Chosen One but eventually succumbed to the Dark Side, these two traits could lead to Muschamp’s eventual downfall.
He has done a great job at Florida so far and has a promising career ahead of him, but to quote Yoda: “Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Suffering leads to the Dark Side.”
I know you haven’t seen the third (well, sixth) installment of the Star Wars saga, coach, but here’s a spoiler alert: It doesn’t end well for the Dark Side.
Contact Tom Green at email@example.com.
Florida coach Will Muschamp has not been shy about showing emotion on the sideline, including letting officials know when he disagrees with a call.