The words came from the unlikeliest of people, but they resonated deep into the heart and thoughts of Will Muschamp as he walked off the Valdosta State football field.
“Your guys didn’t look like they played hard,” Muschamp heard the voice say.
Nothing could sting more than that accusation. Nothing could keep him up later at night or make him rise earlier in the morning.
“My job is to get the defense to play hard, to get the most out of them. That’s all on me. It always has been. So I remember looking at my mom right after she said that to me,” Muschamp said. “This was my mom, my family, telling me my players didn’t play very hard. It hit home. I told myself that from that day forward, whatever we do, we can play with effort and we can play with physical and mental toughness, regardless if we execute. I tell the players all the time that the effort is on you, and the execution is on me.”
Listening to Momma has paid dividends for Muschamp, who has become one of the premier defensive coordinators in college football, building five consecutive top-10 defenses nationally during his years at LSU and Auburn.