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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Almost one year after becoming the head coach, Muschamp is finally getting a clean break from the Urban Era.

Florida, the team Muschamp took over from Urban Meyer last December, accepted an invitation to play in the Gator Bowl against Ohio State (6-6), the team Meyer signed with last week, severing ties with Gainesville. The two squads will play at EverBank Field in Jacksonville at 1 p.m. on Jan. 2.

Since his introductory press conference, Muschamp has on the surface said all the right things about his predecessor. During his first few months on the job, Muschamp went out of his way to compliment Meyer and tell fans he had inherited a fully stocked cupboard.

But as the season wore on and the losses piled up, Muschamp has wavered from his original message. After losing to Florida State on Nov. 26, Muschamp chastised his team for being soft. Then, he made a comment that some could have interpreted as a shot at Meyer.

“We’ve got to develop more discipline and toughness within what we’re trying to do, which I think we’ve made strides,” he said. “We ain’t got nobody missing practice no more.”

In Meyer’s last season, then-freshmen Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley skipped at least one practice, according to multiple reports.

Whether Muschamp intended to take a shot at Meyer, the next month will certainly be awkward.

Ohio State interim coach Luke Fickell hinted Sunday night that Meyer would not go to the game then said he could not speak for the new head coach when asked to clarify his remarks. Asked if Meyer would have input in Ohio State’s offense this month, Fickell said he did not know.

One Florida player said he would not hesitate to talk with Meyer if he saw his former coach in Jacksonville, though he admitted it would feel weird. Meyer, who remained on contract with the University Athletic Association through Feb. 2, was rumored to stop by Florida occasionally since he stepped down. But the player interviewed said he only saw his former coach once in August.

The reaction to Meyer taking the Ohio State job has been mixed.

“Some guys were a little upset about it just because he recruited them and stuff,” said the player, who requested anonymity because the team has not been available for interviews since the FSU loss. “But other guys were OK with it. You really have to talk to each player. I had no hard feelings about it. The man decided what was best for himself and his family. Who am I to say what he should do?”

Another source close to the team said some players were upset when they first heard the news, especially players who have not played much this season.

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