HOOVER, Ala. — How much does current Florida Gators football coach Will Muschamp dislike former Gators coach Urban Meyer?
Well, let's put it like this:
He dislikes him so much, Muschamp wouldn't even mention Meyer or Ohio State by name before taking the podium at the Southeastern Conference Media Days here Tuesday.
When asked about recent reports that Meyer and the Buckeyes had reported the Gators to the NCAA for a ticky-tack secondary recruiting violation that turned out to be unfounded, Muschamp replied sarcastically: "We appreciate our friends from Ohio making sure we are compliant with NCAA rules. They certainly know a little bit about NCAA rules."
When asked if it's a bit strange that Meyer won two national titles at Florida and now has stooped to turning in the Gators for nonviolations, Muschamp replied: "Big Ten Media Days are next week. Ask him."
It's become quite clear Muschamp isn't buying Meyer's denial about turning in the Gators. According to sources at UF, Meyer tattled to the Big Ten and the NCAA, claiming UF assistant coach Brian White committed a secondary "bump" violation (making accidental contact with a recruit during a noncontact period) regarding Curtis Samuel — a stud running back from Erasmus Hall High in New York City. Samuel, who was also being recruited at Ohio State, then dropped UF from consideration.
The NCAA looked into Ohio State's allegation and found it unwarranted. As it turns out, this is the second time in the last year Meyer's Buckeyes have reported Muschamp's Gators for a nonviolation. Meyer told The Gainesville Sun that it was "absolutely untrue" that he personally turned in Florida. An Ohio State spokesperson then told The Columbus Dispatch that it wasn't Meyer but someone else in the OSU athletic department who turned in the Gators.
"It's really a dead issue," Muschamp said. "In both situations we were turned in by Ohio, the University of Florida didn't do anything wrong."
Muschamp dislikes the Buckeyes so much that he has torn a page from Michigan coach Brady Hoke's playbook and now refers to them as "Ohio" instead of Ohio State.
Isn't it equally telling that Muschamp clearly took a shot at Meyer's arrest-laden tenure at UF when asked how much responsibility coaches bear for the behavior of their players. "You're 100 percent responsible for every student-athlete on your football team. ... I can't possibly know everything that happens every single night with our football team. You also can't stick your head in the sand and pretend everything is OK either."
Make no mistake about it, there's no coach Muschamp and Gator fans would love to beat more than Meyer. The only reason Ohio State hasn't replaced Florida State as Florida's biggest rival is because the Gators don't play the Buckeyes every year.
Juxtapose Meyer with Gator coaching legend Steve Spurrier, who now coaches at SEC East rival South Carolina. If Spurrier's Gamecocks were playing Southern Cal for the national title, Gator Nation would vociferously root for Spurrier. Likewise, if Meyer's Buckeyes were playing hated UF rival Georgia for the national title, I believe most Gator fans would privately be pulling for the Bulldogs.