Florida coach Will Muschamp trying to temper his booming sideline demeanor

As the Gators prepared for this season, Will Muschamp went against his reputation.

The man known as “Coach Boom” told his players in August he would keep his composure better in his second year as a head coach with the hope that they would do the same. If he “unraveled” when he got frustrated, it was hard to expect his players to stay cool.

Has he upheld his promise? As No. 6 Florida heads into its final game of the regular season Saturday against No. 10 Florida State (3:30 p.m., ABC), those who are constantly around Muschamp are divided on whether he has been any calmer this year compared to last.

“No, he’s still crazy,” offensive guard James Wilson said. “He’s the same man. I still hear a lot of yelling. But it’s cool.”

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who has known Muschamp since 2005, did not remember the preseason pledge and joked, “How long did it last?”

That said, backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett spends plenty of time on the sideline and has noticed a difference. Part of that could be related to the team playing much better this year and standing 10-1 headed into the final game. This year’s Gators are in the national championship hunt at No. 4 in the BCS, while last year’s team needed a victory over Furman in its next-to-last game just to be bowl eligible.

“Last year you could see him on the sideline ripping everybody and then this year more calm and relaxed,” said Brissett, from Dwyer High School. “That just means we need to go out and do our job because he respects us as men. We know what’s at stake and what needs to get done.”

Since the day Florida introduced him in December 2010, one of the few things Muschamp, 41, has been reluctant to discuss is his sideline demeanor. He was dismissive this week when asked how he has done this season, muttering, “I don’t know. I guess fine. Good, I guess.”

The root of his nickname is a video of him as Auburn’s defensive coordinator yelling at one of his players, “Boom!” followed by something unprintable. That was a celebration, actually.

Several times last season, most memorably against Tennessee, he looked wild when screaming and gesturing at officials. A month later, as UF wobbled to a 17-6 loss at Auburn, ESPN cameras and microphones picked up a full-blown tirade that included him exhorting a ref to “be a [expletive] man.” That incident is the only thing he has publicly apologized for since arriving at UF.

"I've tried to temper some things on the sideline from my first year so things I can't control don't upset me," Muschamp told USA Today last month. "Our team unraveled in some critical situations, but as I evaluated myself, I said, 'You came unraveled in some critical situations. Your team is a reflection of what you are doing.' "

He has not fully suppressed his fury, nor has his team eliminated inexcusable penalties.

While Muschamp appears slightly milder on the sideline for the most part, cameras recently caught him unloading on tight end Clay Burton for a penalty against Georgia, and The Big Lead covered it in an entry titled, "Will Muschamp Looks Psychotic When He's Angry."

He was so exasperated by officiating in a 44-11 win over South Carolina that in a halftime interview with the school’s radio network he shouted that UF needed to “overcome the adversity on the field,” while glancing at a ref.

As for his players, they once again lead the SEC in penalty yards (63.3 per game). They get 7.6 flags per game; just 11 teams in the nation are worse. They were better than only six teams last year.

Some of those penalties occur within the normal scrappiness of the game, but 12 Gators have accounted for 14 personal fouls. Matt Elam, from Dwyer, has three.

Those are the bad decisions that unleash Muschamp’s inner Incredible Hulk.

“As long as everyone’s doing their job, he’s a happy camper,” center Jon Harrison said. “But as soon as someone makes a dumb mistake, then that’s when you see this other side. It’s the way he’s been for two years.”