Reports that Murphy would investigate a transfer were batted down by Will Muschamp on Friday, as Florida's head coach told The Gainesville Sun's Pat Dooley that Murphy was staying. Tweets from both Dooley and Associated Press reporter Mark Long suggest that Murphy reneged on his word to Muschamp, or at least said one thing and did another, with Long going so far as to use the word "lied."
A Sun article from Dooley paints an even less flattering picture of Murphy's handling of the situation: Murphy did not show for Florida's annual team banquet on Saturday night, and did not answer a phone call from Muschamp, instead responding with a text message indicating his intent to transfer.
However, Inside the Gators' Bryan Holt reports a more benign disagreement ($), in which Murphy and Muschamp had a "non-contentious" meeting Saturday morning, Muschamp promised an open quarterback competition, and Murphy told Muschamp he planned to transfer.
Obviously, both of those scenarios could be true, even in conjunction with each other. But a third scenario, which Gator Country's Nick de la Torre reports, with extensive quotes from Murphy, as Murphy's side of the story, contradicts both of those reports.
De la Torre writes that Murphy told Muschamp on Friday that he had not told a reporter he was transferring, decided after a conversation with his family on Saturday that he would transfer, and missed Florida's banquet on Saturday because of his family's flight from Gainesville conflicting with the banquet.
Murphy says he then got in touch with Florida's director of football operations, George Wynn, to try to get a face-to-face meeting with Muschamp, but was told to wait while Muschamp finished with recruits' official visits; after the 45 minutes he was told to wait, Murphy says he called Muschamp, but got no answer, and then texted him a long message detailing his plan.
Murphy says Muschamp called back after receiving the text, and had a conversation with Murphy, disagreeing with his decision to depart from Florida:
"He wasn't happy with it. He told me he didn't think it was a good decision for me. We kind of just went back and forth a little bit, talking about the whole situation and stuff for next year. When he kind of felt where I was leaning towards he said he appreciated everything I've done and stuff like that. When we hung up I thought everything was good."
Murphy additionally told de la Torre that he had not signed his release papers as of late Sunday, expecting to sign it Monday, and was unaware of any transfer restrictions placed on him by Florida.
Murphy is technically not bound by transfer rules, as he graduated with a bachelor's degree on Saturday, and will be able to play in 2014 at any school that receives him, but Florida could bar him from transferring to specific schools. Holt reports that Murphy was granted his official release on Sunday.
Murphy has every right to try to find another place to play, maybe more than most. He sat behind John Brantley, Jeff Driskel, and Jacoby Brissett in 2010, 2011, and 2012, only finally getting a season as Florida's backup in 2013. Murphy went 2-4 as a starter, and also led Florida to victory against Tennessee in relief of an injured Driskel, throwing for 1,216 yards and six touchdowns and running for three more scores, before missing the Gators' last three games with a shoulder injury.
Murphy will have his fair share of suitors looking for a plug-and-play quarterback with some mobility, and would seem to have two obvious ones in Louisville, where Teddy Bridgewater is all but NFL-bound and former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong has established a pipeline for Florida transfers, and Boston College, where former Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio rules the roost and there is little depth behind graduating senior Chase Rettig.
Regardless of the way in which Murphy handled his departure — which certainly seems like it could have been done better — he represented Florida with a lot of dignity during his time in Gainesville, and played about as well as he could in a near-impossible situation in 2013, and I wish him well in the continuation of his athletic and academic careers.