50 For 50, No. 31: Will Muschamp Is A Man, And 40

There are 30 days until Florida's football opener against Florida Atlantic on September 3. Check out Alligator Army's 50 For 50 series for more of our 50 reasons to be excited for Florida football in 2011; we're writing two today. And if you don't get the context for this headline, I can't help you.

Will Muschamp turned 40 on Wednesday, which means that Will Muschamp is a man, and 40 now. There are obvious advantages to being 40 — it sounds cooler than 39, for one — but the way Muschamp's life has unfurled to this point is what makes him being 40 a great thing for the Gators.

Scott Carter has the feature on Muschamp at 40 at GatorZone; Rachel George compiled an exceptional list of 40 things about Muschamp for his 40th; Scout's Bob Redman made 40 wishes ($) for Florida's head man. Those are all well and good for understanding who Muschamp is, but understanding where he sits is probably more important — and more intriguing.

When Muschamp brings his Gators onto the field against Florida Atlantic on that first weekend in September, he'll be 40. When Urban Meyer took his Gators onto the field for the first time in 2005, he was 41; when Steve Spurrier did the same in 1990, he was 45. (Ron Zook was 48 in 2002, in case you were wondering. Florida's gotten great results from young, accomplished coaches, and Muschamp's certainly both of those things.

Meyer won both of his titles before 45; Spurrier's came when he was 51. Those are the legacies Muschamp will have to live up to, but he's well-positioned to make runs at national championships in the next five years.

And he's young enough for Florida to keep him around for as long as he wants to coach college football and is successful as doing so. Hiring Muschamp gave Jeremy Foley a blue-chip stock with both short-term and long-term growth prospects: That's exactly the investment he needed to make.

Admittedly, if things go sour, Muschamp could be gone from Gainesville before 45. But I think there's a much better chance he's still on the sidelines in The Swamp at 50. And if he is, there's probably a good chance the Gators will have collected at least one more championship along the way.

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