South Carolina’s lengthy coaching search to replace Steve Spurrier ended on Sunday with the announcement of Will Muschamp as the program’s next head coach. Muschamp went 28-21 at Florida from 2011-14 and heads to Columbia after a one-year stint as Auburn’s defensive coordinator in 2015.
Despite having nearly two months to nail this hire, the Gamecocks were unable to land any bigger names and instead settled for Muschamp – a retread coach fired from one of the best jobs in the nation.
Perhaps Muschamp has learned and changed his coaching style since he was fired at Florida. However, this hire isn’t exactly an inspiring one for athletic director Ray Tanner.
There’s no question Muschamp knows how to coordinate a defense. Under Muschamp’s watch, Florida’s defenses had only one season (2013) of allowing more than 4.6 yards per play. Additionally, the Gators limited opponents to less than 22 points a game in all four years.
However, Muschamp’s offenses were a mess. Florida cycled through three play-callers (Charlie Weis, Brent Pease and Kurt Roper) from 2011-14 and only finished one season with an average of more than 25 points per game in SEC contests.
It’s unfair to blame Muschamp for all of the issues at Florida, as he didn’t inherit a full cupboard of talent. However, in a state full of talent – and a program that is one of the best jobs in college football – Muschamp had only one season of more than seven wins (2012). The South Carolina job is one of the top 25-30 in the nation, but it’s tougher to win in Columbia, S.C. than it is at Florida.
So if Muschamp couldn’t only muster one season of more than seven wins at Florida, why is he a good fit at South Carolina? Sure, the defense was a problem for the Gamecocks over the last two seasons, and Muschamp and his staff should alleviate some of the concerns on that side of the ball. Muschamp is also regarded as a good recruiter and should hire a standout staff.
That’s not enough for Muschamp to be the right pick in Columbia.
One of Muschamp’s biggest problems at Florida was finding an offensive style and developing that side of the ball. Can Muschamp hire the right coaches this time around and let the offensive staff open up the offense? In Gainesville, Muschamp’s offenses were often criticized for being too conservative. Will that change at South Carolina? Muschamp reportedly has interest in hiring Roper again to coordinate his offense in Columbia.
There’s a reason why Muschamp was hired to be the head-coach-in-waiting at Texas and was picked as Urban Meyer’s replacement at Florida. Athletic directors see something in Muschamp. But considering Muschamp’s record at Florida, South Carolina is taking a big gamble by choosing him as its next head coach.
The positives are clear: Defense, recruiting and hiring a great staff. But there’s also a less-than-stellar track record from one of the best programs in the nation. Muschamp isn’t inheriting a ton of talent at South Carolina, so there’s a lot of work to be done this offseason.
Maybe Muschamp will prove everyone wrong and show why he was regarded as one of the top assistant coaches and hot names among athletic directors just a few seasons ago. However, the first impression for this hire is a big swing and miss by South Carolina.