Muschamp dismissed Alabama coach Nick Saban's suggestion it “doesn't seem quite right” for the Gators to earn a spot in a BCS bowl while the loser of the SEC title game heads to a lower-profile bowl.
UF's regular season is over and the Gators are in line to snag an invitation to the Sugar Bowl, while the loser of the Alabama-Georgia SEC title game will be shut out of BCS games.
Muschamp said it still stings that Florida won't get the chance to play for a title and he would much rather be in Saban's spot — even if a loss cost the team a spot in a BCS game.
“Well, I can switch and go to Atlanta,” Muschamp said when asked about Saban's remark Monday. “If he doesn't want to go to Atlanta and play the `Dogs. Be careful what you ask for, Nick.”
Saban sparked Muschamp's response when he was asked by the Orlando Sentinel about the fate of the SEC title game loser Sunday.
“It's not really a great scenario,” Saban said. “You play your way into the championship game, which means you're the best team in your division. It doesn't see quite right.
“I don't feel good about it for our football team or their football team.”
Saban's comments were ironic considering his history with the BCS Championship Game.
Last year, Alabama did not win its division and missed the SEC title game but still managed to slip in the BCS Championship Game.
Muschamp said he understands why the Gators were locked out of this year’s BCS title game despite arguably a stronger résumé than any team in the nation.
The Gators’ 37-26 win on Saturday at Florida State was their nation-leading fourth victory against teams ranked in the top 13 of BCS standings.
But those four wins by Florida (11-1) could not erase a 17-9 loss an Oct. 27 to Georgia.
“We knew the rules of engagement when we started the season,” Muschamp said Monday, two days after a 37-26 win at FSU. “I’m not one that’s going to sit there and complain about it. We had our opportunity in Jacksonville, and we didn’t get it done.
“That’s our fault. Nobody else’s.”
While bowl announcements will not be official until Sunday, the loser of Saturday’s matchup between the Tide (11-1) and Bulldogs (11-1) likely falls to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando — one of six New Year’s Day bowls.
A day later, the Sugar Bowl assumes center stage as the day’s only game, at 8:30 p.m. in New Orleans. Muschamp said Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley told his coach on Monday “it looked like the Sugar Bowl” for the Gators.
Bowl projections have pegged No. 11 Oklahoma as Florida’s opponent, a rematch of the 2009 BCS Championship the Gators won, 24-14.
Beyond the prestige and potential recruiting edge a school receives from playing in one of college football’s showcase games, each team in the 2012 Sugar Bowl earned a reported $17 million payout. Teams in the 2012 Capital One Bowl each received $4.6 million.
Between now and the Sugar Bowl, Muschamp and his staff will hit the recruiting trail and look to rest the team before it returns to the field in mid-December. Florida will practice seven or eight times in Gainesville and another half dozen at the bowl site.
“They need a break right now,” Muschamp said of his players. “It’s been a long season.”
The rest should help sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel. Muschamp said he was back in a walking boot Monday because of a sore right ankle. He sprained the ankle Nov. 10 against Louisiana-Lafayette.
During his weekly TV show Sunday, Muschamp said Driskel was 80 to 85 percent recovered from the ankle sprain heading into the FSU game.
The former standout at Hagerty High still passed for 147 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 31-yard run. At the time of his injury, the Gators’ offense was struggling, but Muschamp said he has no doubts who will be the 2013 Gators’ starter.
“First-year starter, you win 11 games, you've accomplished an awful lot,” Muschamp said. “The guy's a tough guy, and he went out there not full speed and played very well against an elite defense. Certainly, his growth through the offseason will be critical for our success next season.”