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South Carolina's Coaching Search Continues: Who Are the Top Remaining Candidates?


South Carolina’s coaching search is ongoing, as the program looks for its replacement after Steve Spurrier retired in early October. Shawn Elliott worked as the team’s interim coach through the rest of the season, but the Gamecocks went 1-5 under his watch.

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Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Houston coach Tom Herman were believed to be targets for South Carolina. However, Smart is going to be the next coach at Georgia, while Herman is staying at Houston for 2016.

While it’s not a huge surprise athletic director Ray Tanner has yet to find his next coach, the jobs are filling up and the candidate pool is getting a little thin. South Carolina is a good job in the SEC East, has plenty of fan support and also in a fertile area for recruiting.

Who is left on the board for South Carolina to target as its next head coach? Here are some names to watch as the coaching search continues.

Top Coaching Candidates for South Carolina to Pursue

Jeff Brohm, head coach, WKU

Brohm is one of college football’s top offensive minds and is 18-7 in two seasons at WKU. The Hilltoppers average 44.2 points per game this year and claimed the Conference USA East Division title.

Sonny Dykes, head coach, California

Dykes is 13-23 in three years at California but is coming off his best campaign (7-5). Prior to California, Dykes worked at Louisiana Tech and compiled a 22-15 record during three years in Ruston. Although Dykes has California trending in the right direction, his name has popped up in coaching searches this offseason. The Texas native is working under a new athletic director at California, does not have a long-term extension at the school and the academic restrictions have increased.

Shawn Elliott, interim South Carolina coach

Elliott was promoted to interim coach after Steve Spurrier resigned in early October. Elliott went 1-5 as South Carolina’s interim coach, which included a loss to FCS opponent Citadel. He's a longshot to get the full-time position. 

Larry Fedora, head coach, North Carolina

Fedora has North Carolina trending up after an 11-1 regular season and an appearance in the ACC title game this Saturday against Clemson. Additionally, the Tar Heels are 32-18 under Fedora’s watch. The Texas native has experience in the SEC as an assistant at Florida from 2002-04. Is there a big enough difference in job quality between North Carolina and South Carolina for Fedora to consider a jump?

Dan Mullen, head coach, Mississippi State

Mullen’s name seems to pop up for a handful of jobs each offseason – that’s simply a credit to the job he’s done at Mississippi State. From 2009-15, Mullen is 54-35 with the Bulldogs, including a 10-3 mark in 2014. Mississippi State is one of the toughest jobs in the SEC, yet Mullen has guided the program to six (counting 2015) bowl trips. 

Will Muschamp, defensive coordinator, Auburn

Muschamp could be on the move again this offseason. The former Florida coach could be targeted by Kirby Smart at Georgia, and he’s reportedly in the mix to be South Carolina’s next coach. Muschamp went 28-21 at Florida over four years and had only one season of more than seven victories.

Mark Richt, former Georgia head coach

Richt’s 15-year run at Georgia ended on Sunday, but he may not be out of work for long. Richt is in the mix for the job at Miami – his alma mater – while Virginia is another potential landing spot. Richt may not be eager to jump back into the SEC after a 15-year grind within the league.

Lincoln Riley, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma

Riley is a rising star in the coaching ranks and was a key cog in Oklahoma’s Big 12 title this season. The Sooners averaged 45.8 points per game in Riley’s first season and ranked ninth nationally in yards per play (6.95). Prior to taking over the play-calling duties at Oklahoma, Riley worked as East Carolina’s coordinator from 2010-14 and also made a stop at Texas Tech under Mike Leach. The only downside to the 32-year-old’s resume – no head coaching experience.