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Will Muschamp, Al Golden followed similar coaching paths

Will Muschamp was hired by Florida on Dec. 11, 2010. Al Golden got hired by Miami a day later.

The parallels between the coaches hardly stop there.

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Both are in their early 40s, both played at big-time schools, both were defensive coordinators before getting chances to lead a program, and both inherited tough jobs at marquee institutions. Some might say they even have similar appearances and sideline demeanors, and it’s fair to say neither had the full support of their respective fan bases upon arrival at their current gigs.

And now, their paths collide for the first time.

Muschamp and No. 12 Florida (1-0) will hit the road on Saturday, visiting Golden and Miami (1-0) in the 55th meeting between the longtime rivals who aren’t expected to play again after this weekend for several years.

‘‘When it was in Miami, I remember watching or listening on the radio,’’ said Muschamp, who hasn’t — officially, anyway — been part of any Florida-Miami games, but knows the series well considering he lived in the Gators’ home of Gainesville as a kid. ‘‘And then obviously when it was here in Gainesville I was trying to get in the stadium somehow.’’

He won’t have to clamor for a way in Saturday, and on that front, he’s one of the lucky ones. Miami had to add seats to accommodate as many fans as possible for this game, where some tickets on the secondary markets have been sold for well over face value.

Muschamp played college football at Georgia, Golden at Penn State. Muschamp ran the defense at Texas before the Gators made him a head coach, Golden was the defensive coordinator at Virginia before Temple came calling with an offer to turn around its program.

And this current chapter has not been easy, for either coach.

Muschamp replaced Urban Meyer at a time when the Florida program looked to be in rapid decline, not long after winning two national championships in three years. The Gators went 8-5 the season before Muschamp arrived, then 7-6 in his first season before rallying with an 11-2 mark a year ago.

Golden has never coached a single game at Miami without the still-unresolved NCAA investigation — sparked by the actions of a former booster, leading to allegations handed down earlier this year that did not implicate Golden — hanging over his program.

‘‘I've got a lot of respect for Al,’’ Muschamp said. ‘‘I think his situation was a much different and much tougher than ours certainly because of the NCAA violations.”

.   .   .

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says he doesn’t feel the same old hate from Georgia fans like he faced during his Florida days.

‘‘You’ve got to realize, it’s hard for Georgia to really get mad at South Carolina,’’ Spurrier said. ‘‘They’ve got so many teams they’re mad at or are mad at them.’’

Still, Spurrier’s doing his best to make Bulldogs supporters just as angry about the Gamecocks.

The sixth-ranked Gamecocks (1-0) have won three straight in the series and four of the past six. South Carolina faces No. 11 Georgia (0-1) on Saturday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Spurrier’s Gators won 11 of 12 over the Bulldogs from 1990-2001. Georgia fans have some new reasons to dislike Spurrier, who last year said he liked playing Georgia early in the season ‘‘because they always had two or three guys suspended.’’

Spurrier believes Georgia supporters care more about defeating Georgia Tech, Florida, Auburn, and other more traditional rivals.

‘‘We still haven’t beaten them enough for them to sort of circle South Carolina,’’ he said.

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