South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp Joe Robbins/Getty Images

South Carolina's Risky Hire of Will Muschamp Has Little Chance to Pay Off

Barrett Sallee

There was never a doubt that Will Muschamp would eventually get another chance as a head coach in college football after the four-year debacle in Gainesville from 2011-14 in which he went 28-21, 17-15 in the SEC and produced an offense that was the punch line to a very bad joke.

That chance shouldn't come in the SEC, shouldn't come in 2016 and shouldn't come after he coordinated an average-at-best defense for Auburn in 2015. 

Yet, he's got his chance.

South Carolina officially announced Will Muschamp as its new head coach on Sunday afternoon, replacing former head coach Steve Spurrier and interim head coach Shawn Elliott.

What has Muschamp done to prove that he deserves another chance?

According to David Caraviello of the Charleston Post and Courier, Muschamp could welcome back Kurt Roper as his offensive coordinator, Brad Lawing as defensive line coach and Travaris Robinson as his defensive coordinator after Robinson went with Muschamp to coach defensive backs at Auburn.

South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The defensive coaches will be fine. After all, that was never an issue with the Gators. 

But does South Carolina really want to recreate the failed Muschamp era of Gator offenses that never averaged more than 370 yards per game? Does South Carolina really want to follow the exact same Muschamp blueprint that failed in Gainesville with a recruiting base that isn't close to what "Coach Boom" had in the sunshine state?

Sure, the staff can recruit well. But the biggest reason for South Carolina's success from 2010-13 when it won the SEC East (2010) and reeled off three straight 11-win seasons (2011-13) was program-defining players inside the Palmetto State who chose to go to the Gamecocks rather than Clemson or other major programs. 

Players like Marcus Lattimore, Stephon Gilmore and Jadeveon Clowney are the exception to high school football in the state of South Carolina, not the rule.

That sound you hear is the sound of the rest of the SEC East coaching staffs rejoicing because Muschamp could win with a decided talent advantage at Florida. He won't have that at South Carolina.

There appeared to be a little confusion as to how he got this job, though.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez interviewed for the job, but Wildcat athletics director Greg Byrne tweeted late Saturday night that he turned down an offer to become the head coach of the Gamecocks.

However, according to John Whittle of 247Sports, Rodriguez was never offered the job and was considered the backup candidate to Muschamp within the South Carolina program.

No matter which side you believe, athletics director Ray Tanner should come under heavy fire for botching this as badly as he has.

South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp Joe Robbins/Getty Images

If Rodriguez did, in fact, turn down an offer from the Gamecocks, he should be criticized for getting played. You never offer the job to a high profile coach—especially one at an FBS institution—unless you know the answer will be "yes." If Rodriguez—a spread guru who has compiled a 152-104-2 record over his career and led West Virginia to within one game of the BCS National Championship Game in 2007—was the backup to Muschamp, Tanner needs to not only explain "why," but "how."

On top of that, it's not like Tanner thrust into a coaching search.

Spurrier resigned on Oct. 13, which gave him a month-and-a-half to get his ducks in a row before the end of the regular season.

And this is how it ends? With South Carolina either whiffing on Rodriguez or choosing to go with Muschamp over him?

There's a reason Muschamp was a hot shot coordinator and considered the next big thing when he got the Florida job prior to 2011. 

He had led Texas to a national title game as its defensive coordinator, was successful as the defensive coordinator at Auburn and LSU and learned under current Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

But shouldn't that four-year Florida debacle be a little more relevant? Shouldn't the one year as Auburn's defensive coordinator in which the Tigers improved slightly, but were inconsistent only be step one of the image rebuilding process?

Good luck with Muschamp, South Carolina.

You're going to need it.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.


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