Photo: The Florida football team's turnaround in Year 2 under Will Muschamp has impressed Billy Donovan.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Gators football coach Will Muschamp is a pretty popular figure around campus and in Gator Nation these days after leading Florida to an 11-1 regular season and a berth in the Sugar Bowl in his second season.
The Gators finished third in the BCS rankings and are fourth in the human polls heading into their matchup with Louisville in New Orleans on Jan. 2.
Meanwhile, Florida men's basketball coach Billy Donovan is riding a wave of success as well. Donovan has led the Gators to back-to-back trips to the Elite Eight and his Gators are 6-0 and ranked fifth in the USA Today Coaches' Poll and sixth in the AP Top 25 entering Wednesday night's game at Florida State.
This week marks the first time in nearly six years -- Jan. 9, 2007 -- that both programs are ranked in the top five of the USA Today poll.
Donovan is impressed by the football team's turnaround under Muschamp. The Gators were a combined 15-11 the past two seasons, including 7-6 in Muschamp's first season.
It was after Muschamp's first loss at Florida -- a 38-10 defeat at home to Alabama last season -- that Donovan realized how prepared Muschamp was for the job.
Donovan recalled walking across campus to work out when he bumped into Muschamp. Since their paths don't cross that often, they stopped and chatted for a while.
"I just thought he had an incredible perspective on where his team was at, where his program was at, and where he wanted to go,'' Donovan said. "I think he knows exactly what he wants to do and how he wants his team to play."
The Gators proved that in Muschamp's second season by improving by five wins in the regular season, the program's biggest one-year leap since 1980.
"I've got a lot of respect for him,'' Donovan said. "I give him and his coaching staff a lot of credit, and I also give the players a lot of credit, because a lot of those same guys on the team a year ago needed to get a whole lot better. And they obviously made the commitment to get better.
"I think Will is a great guy and he is a perfect fit here. As I've always said, I don't know a lot about the X's and O's of football, but I think I can always take away from watching his teams play that they look like a team last year that wasn't physically tough. Now they have developed into this incredibly physically and mentally tough team. They've obviously had an incredible year."