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Will Muschamp making offensive staff changes at South Carolina

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Coach Boom has gone bust with a number of his staff members.

Numerous reports out of Columbia say South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp has begun the process of revamping his coaching staff.

Bryan McClendon was elevated to offensive coordinator in 2018 in addition to his duties as wide receivers coach, which he will apparently stick with going forward despite being stripped of play-calling duties. Longtime SEC assistant Dan Werner won’t be back with the Gamecocks either way however as the team slipped to 4-8 this season and failed to muster much offensive production behind freshman QB Ryan Hilinski.

Muschamp is 26–25 overall after four seasons at South Carolina and was the subject of plenty of speculation about his own job security in recent weeks. While that talk should continue as his hot seat warms in 2020, the embattled head coach will at least be making changes designed to prevent that over the coming weeks.

Will Muschamp gets public support from South Carolina AD, will return in 2020

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It’s that time of the year when athletic directors new and old are faced with addressing the future of football coaches if things aren’t exactly going too well with the program. South Carolina’s Will Muschamp has the Gamecocks sitting at 4-6 with just a few games remaining as they fight for bowl eligibility, and that has raised some questions about whether or not Muschamp will be looking for work in 2020 or if he can stay comfortable in Columbia.

According to a statement from South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner, Muschamp has nothing to worry about regarding his job status with the program.

“Today, I want to make it clear that Will Muschamp is our football coach and will be our coach going forward,” Tanner stated via a released statement on Friday. “President Caslen and I are fully supportive of his leadership and his development of student-athletes on and off the field. Coach Muschamp and our staff are dedicated to the success of Gamecock football. They have built a program where our team plays for each other and for our University, and they deserve our support. While we wish the outcome of some of our games would have been different, we are excited about the future of our program.”

Under Muschamp, who was fired before the 2016 season, South Carolina is a cumulative 26-23 that includes a 1-2 bowl record. South Carolina is in jeopardy of missing the bowl season for just the second time since going 6-6 in 2007 under Steve Spurrier.

While the on-field product may leave something to be desired, it is fair to suggest the program exceeded its norms at the height of Spurrier’s days and that has set the bar high for Muschamp. Three consecutive bowl trips and two winning seasons in three years is far from the end of the world for most programs.  That doesn’t mean Muschamp is without his flaws, which is part of the reason he ultimately was let go at Florida prior to his arrival at South Carolina. But there is another reason South Carolina would be wise to stick with Muschamp in 2020.

As usual, it’s all about the money.

Muschamp would be owed $19,437,500 in a buyout if he were to be fired without cause. According to the USA Today coaching salary database, that is the buyout figure for Muschamp as of Dec. 1, 2019. Muschamp is currently under contract at South Carolina until 2024. It is the 14th largest buyout in the nation according to the figures in the same database.

Will Muschamp reportedly expected back at South Carolina in 2020

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South Carolina lost, at home, to Appalachian State on Saturday, which is bad no matter the context. But it’s especially bad in the context of South Carolina’s current season, where it dropped the Gamecocks to 4-6 on the year with games against Texas A&M and Clemson ahead, thereby making a 4-8 finish more likely than not.

Even if the Gamecocks miraculously win out, though, South Carolina has lost six or more games in three of four seasons under head coach Will Muschamp.

Still, despite all that, don’t expect Muschamp to join Willie Taggart and Chad Morris on the unemployment line.

According to reports Monday from FootballScoop and the ABC affiliate in Columbia, Muschamp is expected back for a fifth season in 2020. (Full disclosure: I also work for FootballScoop.)

If South Carolina does lose to the Aggies and Tigers, Muschamp will stand at 26-25 overall and 15-17 in SEC play through his first four seasons. While they may not be thrilled treading water like that, they’re not displeased enough to swallow $19 million to buy him out plus the associated costs of dismissing its existing coaching staff to hire a new one.

South Carolina AD gives Will Muschamp dreaded vote of confidence

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Mack Brown beating his old coach-in-waiting has now led to that coach getting a dreaded vote of confidence as Will Muschamp is apparently feeling the heat in South Carolina.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner tried to downplay concerns about his football coach this week in several interviews, with The State noting that he jumped on SportsTalk SC radio on Thursday and seemed to throw his support behind the now-embattled coach.

“I went over and met with him early in the week,” Tanner said. “He probably didn’t need to see me necessarily, but I felt that I needed to go visit with him for a little bit and I did and we had a nice chat.

“Everybody is disappointed, but we have to move on.”

Muschamp has a reported $18.7 million buyout if he’s fired before the end of the year, all but assuredly cementing him in Columbia beyond 2019. Despite that, fans are not happy after the Week 1 performance by the team in which they allowed a pair of 90+ yard drives in the fourth quarter to lose to North Carolina.

To make matters worse, the Gamecocks lost starting quarterback Jake Bentley to injury and will be starting a true freshman under center going forward.

South Carolina has their home opener at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday and then host No. 2 Alabama the following week. Votes of confidence tend not to be a good thing for head coaches at this point in the season but some improved play over the coming games could be enough to cool down an upset fan base.

Will Muschamp still embraces Oklahoma drill banned by NFL

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The famed — and in some cases beloved — Oklahoma drill has been in the news of late, with the safety-conscious NFL making headlines earlier this month by banning the old-school practice in an attempt to eliminate unnecessary shots to the head and, in theory, reducing the risk of concussions. In banning the drill, The Shield is hopeful “the message it sends downstream to youth football, to high school football, to college football” will trigger those levels of football to do the same.

At least one Power Five coach, though, wants nothing to do with the NFL’s intended trickle-down effect.

Under Will Muschamp, South Carolina utilizes what the head coach calls the Cock drill (don’t even start in the comments section, dear readers), which is essentially the Oklahoma drill with different labeling and slightly different packaging. Despite the NFL’s stance, Muschamp says he has no intention of eliminating the Cock drill (don’t do it, beloved readers) because, in his opinion, it benefits his team on both sides of the ball.

“It’s a drill that teaches offensively to finish a block, to get your hands inside, to play with pad level, to do all the basic fundamentals you do on every single snap in a football game,” Muschamp said this week according to The State. “Defensively, same thing, great pad level, great explosion, teaches you to get off a block and make a tackle. It teaches a running back to finish a run, to run through contact. The basic fundamentals of what you would say happens on every single football play goes into that drill.

“It’s man-on-man and lining up and whipping somebody’s ass. That’s what it all comes down to.”

Muschamp added that his program “will continue to work with our medical staff and do what is the safest way for us to have a very physical football team.”

The Oklahoma drill was the brainchild of legendary Sooners head coach Bud Wilkinson back in the forties and originally consisted of two players facing each other in a three-point stance and, when the whistle was blown, they attempted to drive their opposition backward/to the ground. In the Cock drill (stop it before you start it, please), a runner is added behind a blocker.