Examining who could replace Will Muschamp at South Carolina
South Carolina is the first Power 5 college football team to make a coaching change in 2020, as Will Muschamp was fired on Sunday. The Gamecocks named offensive coordinator Mike Bobo as interim coach for the remainder of the year. Muschamp's tenure ended after a 59-42 loss to Ole Miss on Saturday night, dropping the team's record to 2-5. Muschamp guided South Carolina to three bowl games in his first three years (2016-18), which included a nine-win mark in '17. However, the program has been trending in the wrong direction over the last two years. The Gamecocks finished 4-8 in 2019 and are 2-5 through seven games this fall.
Who could replace Muschamp at South Carolina? Here are seven names to watch in the coaching search:
7 Coaching Candidates to Replace Will Muschamp at South Carolina
Shane Beamer, Assistant Coach, Oklahoma
Beamer is a South Carolina native, so there are some natural ties to the area. Additionally, Beamer has experience as an assistant at several high-profile programs, including Mississippi State (2004-06), Virginia Tech (2011-15), Georgia (2016-17), and Oklahoma (2018-current). Beamer worked from 2007-10 as an assistant at South Carolina and is regarded for his work on the recruiting trail. Beamer does not have any experience as a head coach, but he's got a strong resume from his time as an assistant.
Joe Brady, Offensive Coordinator, Carolina Panthers
Brady doesn't have any experience as a head coach, but he's a candidate to watch for openings in the NFL and in college. The Florida native was instrumental in LSU's offensive development and national title last season in his only year with the program. Brady departed Baton Rouge for a chance to call plays in the NFL and has helped the Panthers improve their production on that side of the ball. Prior to LSU, Brady spent time as a linebackers coach with William & Mary (2013-14), a graduate assistant with Penn State (2015-16), and an assistant with the Saints (2017-18).
Jamey Chadwell, Head Coach, Coastal Carolina
Chadwell's stock is on the rise in 2020. Coastal Carolina is in the top 25 for the first time since joining the FBS ranks after a 7-0 start this season. The Chanticleers are 15-16 since Chadwell took over but have increased their win total in each of the last two years after posting three in '17. Previously, Chadwell went 22-14 as North Greenville's coach (2009-11), 3-7 at Delta State (2012), and 35-14 at Charleston Southern (2013-16).
Hugh Freeze, Head Coach, Liberty
Freeze recently inked a contract extension, but his name is still expected to come up in the mix for this job. Yes, there's baggage associated with Freeze due to the end of his tenure at Ole Miss. However, it's safe to assume he will get another shot at a Power 5 opening. Freeze's head-coaching tenures have been filled with success. He went 20-5 at Lambuth (2008-09), finished 10-2 at Arkansas State and compiled a 39-25 mark at Ole Miss (2012-16). The Rebels had only one losing mark under Freeze and posted 19 wins from 2014-15. After sitting out 2017-18, Freeze returned to the sidelines at Liberty. The Flames are 16-5 over the last two years and claimed the program's first bowl bid with a victory in the Cure Bowl in 2019. Liberty is also 2-0 against ACC teams in 2020.
Will Healy, Head Coach, Charlotte
This might be too early for Healy, but he's a rising star in the FBS coaching ranks. The Tennessee native coached as an assistant at Chattanooga (2009-15) before taking over at Austin Peay in 2016. The Governors struggled mightily before Healy's arrival but went from 0-11 in 2016 to 13-10 over the next two years. Charlotte is 9-9 under Healy's direction, including a 7-6 mark that led to the program's first bowl trip last year.
Billy Napier, Head Coach, South Carolina
Napier has ties to the state of South Carolina, as he played his college ball at Furman (1999-02) and later worked as an assistant at Clemson (2003-04 and 2006-10) and spent one season at South Carolina State (2005). However, Napier's biggest draw to the program is his success as a head coach at Louisiana. The Ragin' Cajuns are 25-11 under Napier's watch and have claimed three consecutive Sun Belt West Division titles. Additionally, Louisiana's 11-win campaign in 2019 was the best season in school history, and the program knocked off Iowa State on the road in the '20 opener. Napier also has experience from stops as an assistant at Colorado State (2012), Alabama (2013-16), and Arizona State (2017). The 41-year-old coach has raised the Ragin' Cajuns' profile on the recruiting trail and knows how to build successful offenses.
Steve Sarkisian, Offensive Coordinator, Alabama
Sarkisian doesn't have to jump at the first opportunity, but the former Washington and USC head coach will likely pop up for any openings this season. Under Sarkisian's watch, Alabama's offense leads all Power 5 teams by averaging 47.2 points a game in 2020. He's called plays for the last two seasons after arriving in Tuscaloosa after two years with the Falcons (2017-18). Sarkisian started his FBS coaching career at USC (2001-03) before a stint with the Raiders (2004). After returning to the Trojans in 2005, he remained in Los Angeles until '09 when he was hired as Washington's head coach. The Huskies were a program in need of repair, but Sarkisian brought immediate improvement and went 34-29 over five years. Sarkisian's tenure as USC's head coach ended after just 18 games (12-6) due to off-field concerns, but he's due for another chance to lead a Power 5 program.