So much for no coaching carousel this year.
South Carolina on Sunday became the first Power 5 school to make a coaching change, dismissing Will Muschamp after the team fell to 2-5. Despite the financial toll of the pandemic and Muschamp's remaining guarantee of around $13.2 million, South Carolina felt the time had come to make a move. Muschamp went 28-30 in four-plus seasons with the Gamecocks, peaking with a 9-4 mark in 2017, the only time his team finished higher than fourth in the SEC East.
This is a tough job, despite being in the more navigable SEC division. Other than a three-year stretch under Steve Spurrier from 2011 to 2013, when South Carolina went 33-6 with three AP Top 10 finishes, the program hasn't sustained high-level success. Since 1961, only three South Carolina coaches finished with winning records. The Gamecocks' only division title came in 2010 under Spurrier, and their only conference title came in 1969 as a member of the ACC. A $50 million football operations center, which opened in 2019, showed increased investment in a program that faces an uphill climb in the well-resourced SEC.
Being first to market brings advantages, and South Carolina will have a strong candidate pool to replace Muschamp, especially at the top. A subplot is how much influence athletic director Ray Tanner has with the hire, given his own uncertain future. But university president Bob Caslen endorsed Tanner in Sunday's announcement of Muschamp's dismissal.
The goal with these candidate lists is to be thorough, but South Carolina might not get beyond the first three or four names. Let's take a look.
Liberty coach Hugh Freeze