South Carolina fired Will Muschamp in his fifth season. Who are 5 possible candidates to replace him?
That Will Muschamp got a fifth year was a minor miracle.
The South Carolina gig is really, really tough.
How many conference championships does the program have? One, and that ACC – not SEC – title was all the way back in 1969 when the team went 7-4 and never beat a team with a winning record.
The program went 4-6-1 in 1970.
Not only does the South Carolina head coach have to contend with the SEC, but it has to deal with that Clemson thing 130 miles up the road.
Will Muschamp was everyone’s hot head coaching prospect back in 2011 when he took over the Florida gig, but he went 28-21 in his four years and way let go before latching on with South Carolina.
He took the Gamecocks to bowl games in his first three seasons, but he went 4-8 last year and was 2-8 in his last ten games. He was able to beat Florida and Georgia once, but his teams were annihilated by Clemson in each of the last four seasons – that’s a no-no for the Gamecock head man.
There’s no ill-will, he’s a likable guy, and he’s very rich, walking away with just over $13 million in a buyout. Assistant coach Mike Bobo – the former Colorado State head man – will fill in for the rest of the season, and now the search is on.
Here are five coaching candidates who athletic director Ray Tanner will at least need to think about.
To begin, let’s start with the one big name being thrown around, because he’s going to be a big deal in this year’s coaching carousel.
Hugh Freeze, Liberty head coach
No. Just … no.
But … maybe.
A big portion of the social media fan base wants him, considering what he’s doing to make Liberty a thing with a huge start to the 2020 season, and there was some success at Ole Miss, but there’s too much baggage and too many hoops to jump through to make him the South Carolina head man.
However, he’s a fantastic football coach who’d be able to step in and punch his weight right away in the SEC. If he isn’t the guy, he’ll be the baseline comparison for the new hire, making the already pressure-packed job that much more intense.
Again, here are five candidates who at least need to get a phone call.
5. Brent Venables, Clemson defensive coordinator
This would be a tough get on several levels.
First, Will Muschamp was the superstar defensive coordinator who was destined to be a head coach, and that didn’t exactly work out – Venables might be a bit of a tough sell to parts of the base considering he’s never been a head coach.
Second, he’s been a hot head coaching prospect for the better part of two decades, and yet he seems like he found his groove as a star for Clemson after rocking at Oklahoma.
If he is thinking about becoming a head coach, it might be more attractive to potentially wait it out at Clemson if Dabo Swinney ever moved on to the NFL, or if and when the Alabama gig opens up.
It’s worth a call to gauge his interest, and then he’ll stay at Clemson, so …
4. Scott Satterfield, Louisville head coach
A powerhouse head man at Appalachian State, he ushered in the program’s era to life in the FCS with 40 wins, three Sun Belt championships, and three bowl wins over his last four years before taking the Louisville job.
The one interesting and not so obvious name that comes up when you ask around about the South Carolina opening is Scott Satterfield of Louisville.
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) November 16, 2020
The Cardinal program needed some refurbishing, and he stepped right in and turned it into a winner in his first season.
This year there’s a problem. The team is struggling through a 2-6 season with just one ACC win. The Cardinal program still needs work with the 2-10 2018 season not all that long ago, and the schedule is far rougher this season with an improved ACC. However, he’s got a great personality, he’s great around the right people, and he’s a rebuilding type who’ll bring an instant jolt for the offense.
3. Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina head coach
In so many ways, he makes perfect sense.
Chadwell is young, he’s experienced, he’s been able to work his way up through the lower ranks before being an assistant at Coastal Carolina, and he helped build the program up over the last three years from three wins, to five, to a 7-0 start and a likely Sun Belt title.
His teams are aggressive, with a defense that lives in the opposing backfield to go along with an offense that’s Wisconsin-like in the way its able to control the clock and the tempo, only with a more spread-like style.
He’s the type of rising head coach who might need a little bit to get things going at South Carolina, but has a massive upside.
I reached out to current Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell about the South Carolina head coaching vacancy. His response… pic.twitter.com/eQCHkBlSO9
— Scott Eisberg (@SEisbergWCIV) November 16, 2020
2. Duce Staley, Philadelphia Eagles assistant head coach
It’s hardly ever a sure thing when a school hires a former player to take over the coaching job – ask Nebraska and Michigan how that’s working out. However, landing the former Gamecock running back would be a great get for just about anyone, and that’s part of the problem.
Staley is on the short list for NFL head coaching jobs after spending the last few years as Doug Pederson’s right hand man with the Eagles – he took over this offseason when Pederson was positive for the coronavirus.
He knows running backs, he knows offenses, and he’s got the energy and personality to make the South Carolina job all his.
1. Billy Napier, Louisiana head coach
I spent several years begging for schools to hire Lane Kiffin. He was always better than he got credit for, and he was going to be an instant jolt for whatever program wanted to become immediately interesting on a national scale.
And then Ole Miss did it.
Kiffin was No. 1 on the list of coaches who’d rock again at a bigger gig, and Napier was No. 1A.
A high-riser in the assistant coaching world, he spent a few years as Nick Saban’s wide receivers coach before taking the Arizona State offensive coordinator job. A bit young, no head coaching experience, and with the Sun Devils going with Herm Edwards, Napier took the Louisiana job, and he’s been fantastic.
His teams go fast, they’ve had dominant running games, and they win, going 25-11 in just over two years with two division titles and a bowl victory.
Since losing to Mississippi State in a good fight in last year’s opener, his Ragin’ Cajuns have gone 18-3. The three losses? By three to this year’s amazing Coastal Carolina team, and last year twice to an Appalachian State squad that finished 13-1.
He’s just 41, he was an assistant for several years at Clemson, he went to Furman, he knows the area and he’s the Next Coach Up for all the openings that are about to come.