- Associated Press - Saturday, December 11, 2010

GAINESVILLE, FLA. (AP) - Maybe Will Muschamp got tired of waiting.

The defensive coordinator and heir apparent at Texas jumped to Florida on Saturday night, taking over one of the premier jobs in college football and replacing two-time national champion Urban Meyer.

“This is a dream come true,” Muschamp said in a statement.

Muschamp will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday evening.

He also will be reunited with a place he used to call home. Muschamp spent 10 years in Gainesville as a kid, graduated from Georgia and coached at Auburn and LSU.

He knows Florida. He knows the Southeastern Conference. For the Gators, that background outweighed his lack of head-coaching experience.

“I grew up watching the Gators and whatever other SEC team was on television,” Muschamp said. “I have great memories watching SEC football with my father on Saturdays and playing football in the back yard with my two brothers right here in Gainesville.”

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said he targeted Muschamp shortly after Meyer resigned Wednesday and he was the only person to whom Foley offered the job.

Foley said Muschamp’s familiarity with the SEC was an important factor.

“We wanted a candidate who was high energy and had been on the big stage,” Foley said in a statement. “We wanted a candidate who was respected by his players and his peers, and we wanted someone who had a passion for the University of Florida. Coach Muschamp is all of those things and more.”

The timing of the announcement raised some eyebrows. Did the Gators plan the announcement to coincide with the Heisman Trophy ceremony? Former Florida quarterback Cam Newton, now Auburn’s offensive star, won the award a little more than two years after he left Gainesville in the midst of cheating allegations and following his arrest on a theft charge.

The hire also was met with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Some raved about Muschamp’s background and his fiery demeanor. Others questioned whether a longtime assistant coach would be the right fit for one of the nation’s elite programs.

Meyer, however, applauded the hire.

“Coach Muschamp is a great hire for the University of Florida,” Meyer said in a statement. “He is a relentless recruiter and brings a tremendous amount of energy and passion to the game. I would run into him on the road often on the recruiting trail and have always been impressed with him as a coach and a person.”

Meyer walked away from the job Wednesday, four days after he called Foley and said he was contemplating the move, and left about $20 million guaranteed on the table.

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