After Andy Staples first reported this Sunday morning that Will Muschamp was "dismissed" at Florida, ESPN's Brett McMurphy followed by reporting Muschamp "will not return."
Now Muschamp's departure is being clarified even further:
Source has confirmed Muschamp was not fired. He resigned. #Gators— David Jones (@DaveJonesSports) November 16, 2014
And GatorZone's official release of the news dodges "fired" altogether, opting for "steps down."
What's the difference? Millions of dollars, possibly. Muschamp being fired (without cause) would put Florida on the hook for the full terms of his contract, while Muschamp resigning — even if resigning is just the polite term for being asked to go and agreeing — might get Florida some wiggle room in negotiating terms of his departure.
With Muschamp under contract through 2016, and due over $3 million per year, that's a critically important distinction to make. And it's not like saving Florida some money helps Florida alone: Muschamp leaving some of that cash on the table while making his exit relatively painless will almost certainly make him a more appealing hire elsewhere — it shows he can play well with an athletic department, and that the job is more important to him than the compensation.
But while I'd expect Muschamp to get less than what he is due, and I'd believe him leaving being chalked up as a resignation, at least technically, this is a semantic game. If Muschamp resigned, it was almost certainly to avoid being fired.