South Carolina’s coaching vacancy may soon be filled by former Florida head coach and current Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. The Muschamp-to-South Carolina story has been building momentum over the past week or so, and Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated are now reporting, and The Slate has confirmed the report, the two have agreed in principle to name Muschamp the new head coach of the Gamecocks.
The South Carolina saga has been a wild one in the past 24 hours. Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez reportedly flew to South Carolina to interview for the job, but he ultimately came to the decision to stay put in Tucson. The news was broken by Arizona athletics director Greg Byrne via Twitter Saturday night.
Muschamp had been considered a top candidate for the South Carolina job for a few weeks now, although why is a bit unknown. Muschamp had one good year as Florida’s head coach. After a 7-6 debut season after accepting the head coaching job in Gainesville following Urban Meyer’s retirement and after serving as Mack Brown‘s coach-in-waiting at Texas, Muschamp took Florida to an 11-win season that ended in a blowout loss in the Sugar Bowl against Charlie Strong, Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville. Muschamp went 10-13 in his final two seasons at Florida before ultimately being removed as head coach. Florida hired Jim McElwain from Colorado State, and McElwain took Florida to the SEC Championship Game in his first season on the job with practically no offense to speak of.
South Carolina needs offense in a big way, so if Muschamp really is going to be the head coach then he needs an absolute homerun of an offensive coordinator by his side. Muschamp reportedly has been trying to line up a potential staff to take to South Carolina, which could possibly include former Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore as an assistant coach. Maybe Muschamp will be a better head coach on his second opportunity at a program with lower realistic expectations, or at least the will to allow more time to turn things around than he experienced at Florida. Maybe Muschamp will end up being a solid hire for South Carolina, but the track record certainly does not support the logic behind hiring Muschamp. Muschamp’s impact on Auburn’s defense was not quite as powerful as expected, although Auburn did get better on defense as the season progressed.
It appears Will Muschamp is pulling out all the stops to land another head-coaching gig — and the man he’d replace is reportedly looking to give him a boost as well.
The Charleston Post & Courier reported earlier Friday that Muschamp has offered former South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore a spot on a potential staff at USC. Muschamp, it’s been reported, either has already or will interview for the Gamecocks job in the very near future, with some observers seeing the former Florida head coach as the front-runner for the job.
The Post & Courier writes that “Muschamp… told Lattimore that he has been in contact with USC President Harris Pastides” and “that Pastides implied to Muschamp that ‘they’re going to try to get this thing done as soon as possible.'” Lattimore is currently enrolled in classes at his alma mater and serves as an ambassador for the program, but has previously stated that he had no desire to coach at the collegiate level. That said, a source described the offer as “intriguing” to Lattimore.
Adding to the intrigue of the unlikely candidate that is Muschamp is who he decidedly has in his corner — former USC head coach Steve Spurrier. Not only is the OBC supportive of Muschamp’s candidacy, he’s also, Steven Godfrey of SBNation.com is reporting, “recommended Muschamp to South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner and has assisted Muschamp’s efforts to contact coaches affiliated with the Gamecock program, as well as key boosters.”
It’s previously been reported that, regardless of whether or not he lands the USC job, Muschamp is expected to be a one-and-done as Auburn’s defensive coordinator. Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley is expected to interview for the opening today, while Spurrier immediate replacement, interim head coach Shawn Elliott, interviewed earlier this week. Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez has also been mentioned as a Gamecocks target.
If anyone can understand what’s going through the head of Nick Chubb right now, it’s Todd Gurley and Marcus Lattimore.
In the first play of the first possession of Georgia’s game against Tennessee, Chubb went down with an absolutely horrific-looking injury as his left knee bent in a way that God never intended. Officially, UGA stated that the running back wouldn’t return to the game because of the left knee injury, but gave no prognosis beyond this weekend. Unofficially, it very much appears that Chubb’s 2015 season has come to an end.
For those who are squeamish, look away.
Chubb took over as the Bulldogs’ top back almost exactly one year ago today, becoming one of the most productive players at the position in the country during that time; entering Week 6, he was third in the country in rushing yards. Chubb’s emergence coincided with All-American Todd Gurley’s NCAA-related suspension and then, in his first game back, a torn ACL.
Gurley ended up leaving UGA after his junior season and became the first running back taken in the 2015 NFL draft. Upon hearing/seeing the news of Chubb’s potentially devastating injury, Gurley could only shake his head and offer up prayers.
Former South Carolina All-American Marcus Lattimore, himself the victim of a significant knee injury that cost him the remainder of his collegiate career as well as any meaningful NFL career, tweeted support for the fallen player as well.
While there remains uncertainty regarding the severity of Chubb’s injury, there’s one near-certainty moving forward: the calls for Leonard Fournette — and now the sophomore Chubb as well –to sit out the 2016 season and protect himself from such an injury will grow louder and louder in the coming days and weeks.