South Carolina is destined for a sub-.500 season, and a first missed bowl game under Will Muschamp. After Saturday’s loss to Appalachian State, the Gamecocks are just 4-6, with games against Texas A&M and Clemson to go.
Historically, South Carolina is a far cry from its SEC East rivals Florida or Georgia. Steve Spurrier went a long way towards making the Gamecocks competitive in the conference during his tenure in Columbia, and while Muschamp hasn’t really built on it, the team had some hopes this season.
At mid-year, it seemed like South Carolina might take a step forward. The Gamecocks scored one of the season’s biggest upsets on Oct. 12, when they beat Georgia in Athens.
The team is 1-3 since, with losses to Florida and Tennessee and a win over lowly Vanderbilt before the App State game.
It isn’t a stretch to say that Muschamp finds himself on the hot seat. New school president Robert Caslen, who is in his first year at South Carolina, discussed the coach’s status in an interview with The Greenville News.
Caslen says that, like any other coach, Muschamp will be evaluated at season’s end, but nothing will happen before then.
“Coach Muschamp is my coach. That’s the message. He will be my coach through the end of the season,” Caslen said. “And then, just like any other coach that’s out there, whether it’s a soccer coach, whether it’s the equestrian coach, whatever, they’re going to do an end-of-year assessment, the athletic director does. Then, we’ll see what’s up.”
The biggest thing working in Will Muschamp’s favor is likely his contract. After last season, athletic director Ray Tanner extended the former Florida head coach’s contract by a year. His buyout is currently $19.4 million, and only drops to $18.8 million on Dec. 31.
We saw Florida State fire Willie Taggart at mid-season with a similar buyout, but that situation was considered a bit more dire, and South Carolina is not FSU.
Caslen addressed the buyout situation head-on, and it certainly doesn’t sound like he’s very excited to send Muschamp packing with over $18 million in his pocket.
“If I wanted to do that — I’m not saying I would — but where am I going to come up with $18 million?” Caslen asked. “There’s so much more, as the president of a university, I could do with $18 million than to buy out a coach’s contract.
“I could build a parking garage, or I could revamp the stadium. There are so many more things you could do. So, why would I do that?”
Caslen is a former college football player for Army, and oversaw the rejuvenation of that football program, hiring current head coach Jeff Monken during his tenure as West Point superintendent. He clearly sees the value in the sport, and its importance to an SEC school like South Carolina, but based on the current situation, I’d bet heavily on Muschamp being back in 2020, even if the team finishes 4-8 and gets rocked by Clemson once again.