GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The customary postgame handshake between head coaches was a little more crowded Saturday after Florida beat South Carolina 20-7.
A group of Florida players followed along with coach Jim McElwain as he went to shake hands with Will Muschamp. They waited patiently on the edges of the huddle of cameras and state troopers until the handshake was complete.
Then came their turn to greet Muschamp.
More than a dozen players who were recruited by and used to play for Muschamp at Florida were there to hug and talk with the South Carolina coach.
“It’s about the people,” Muschamp said of his experience returning to Florida. “It’s not about the logo. It’s not about the buildings. There’s a lot of people, obviously because it wasn’t a long time ago I was here. Just to shake Jim’s hand at the end and you’re standing there for 15 minutes at the end talking to players. That’s what it’s about, the relationships with people over a period of time.
“People that still work here at Florida that I’m still very close with and always will be. That’s part of this. As we move forward, there will be less players involved. That’s probably better for me because that’s what I really care about.”
Muschamp said this week he was not sure what the feelings would be as he coached the Gamecocks against the Gators, while many of his former players were honored on senior day. He coached at Florida from 2011-14 and the remains of his recruiting classes still compose the upperclassman portion of the Gators roster.
“Certainly, seeing a lot of the guys on the field was interesting,” Muschamp said. “Again, when the ball tees off, you’re ready to go play. It was a normal game other than that.”
The postgame was anything but normal, though. Defensive back Marcell Harris led the way, being first in line to greet Muschamp. Running back Mark Herndon, defensive lineman Taven Bryan, defensive back Duke Dawson, wide receiver Brandon Powell and offensive lineman Cameron Dillard were among the players who followed suit and made it a point to be there to see their former coach after their win.
“There was about 18 of them I saw there,” Muschamp said. “It was just good to see those guys.”