Skip to main content

South Carolina President Takes Back What He Said About AD, Florida State

South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp on the sideline.

COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 27: Head coach Will Muschamp of the South Carolina Gamecocks watches on against the Tennessee Volunteers during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Will Muschamp is likely to return to the South Carolina Gamecocks next season, but it is becoming more and more evident that his contract is the primary reason for that. With its only game left against Clemson, the team will finish 4-8 barring a monumental upset.

This is the same Gamecocks team that beat Georgia earlier this season, so you can't totally rule that out, obviously. Even so, barring a situation in which there aren't enough bowl eligible teams with six or more wins, and South Carolina having a top APR score, the Gamecocks won't be going bowling this fall.

The team has trended downward the last two seasons. Even so, after the 2018 season, in which South Carolina finished 7-6, with a 4-4 SEC record and a blowout loss in the Belk Bowl to Virginia, athletic director Ray Tanner gave Muschamp a contract extension, which featured a huge buyout.

Muschamp is currently owed $19.4 million if he's fired before the end of the year. It drops to $18.8 on Dec. 31, which is still far more than the school probably wants to pay.

While he is probably back next fall, the school certainly hasn't done a great job of instilling confidence in the head coach moving forward. President Robert Caslen has openly discussed the hurdle that the buyout presents, which undercuts Tanner's assertion that he and Caslen are "fully supportive of (Muschamp's) leadership" moving forward.

Florida State did what South Carolina has avoided to this point. Earlier this season, the Seminoles fired Willie Taggart in his second season, despite a buyout of around $17 million. In a strange move, Caslen told the The Morning Newsin Florence, S.C. that Tanner reached out to Florida State to ask about dealing with such a massive buyout.

University of South Carolina President Robert Caslen said Monday he has not asked Florida State how it came up with money to fire football coach Willie Taggart earlier this month and pay him a buyout worth a little more than $18 million.

“No, but our athletic director (Ray Tanner) has,” Caslen said during an interview session at the Morning News. “And they’ve got a whole lot more money in their athletic endowment than we do. I know that, for a fact."

Caslen went on to reiterate support for Muschamp, but after that statement, he is now backtracking. According to The State, he said that the paper "twisted his words" about what Tanner had done, without giving more specifics.

“Let me set the record straight: Athletics Director Ray Tanner did not speak with anyone at Florida State University about coaching contracts,” Caslen’s statement read.

The statement did not explain why Caslen told the Morning News that Tanner had spoken with Florida State. And while Caslen told the Morning News that an earlier article from The Greenville News “twisted my words,” his statement on Monday night did not indicate that he felt he was misquoted in the latest report.

You have to wonder why he would say it at all, but even after all of this, Caslen did leave the door cracked open for the possibility that the Gamecocks move on from Will Muschamp, depending on how the Clemson game goes.

Caslen, the university’s president since August, was then asked what Muschamp’s fate would be if Clemson wins by a large margin on Nov. 30 at Williams-Brice Stadium.

“If we’re totally imploding and no one shows up, I’d say we’ll have a discussion,” Caslen said. “But there’s no desire intended to make a change.”

Last fall, Clemson opened as a record 26.5-point favorite in the game, the biggest spread in Palmetto Bowl history. The Tigers won handily, but failed to cover, winning 56-35 at Memorial Stadium. This year's game is in Columbia, but the spread could be even bigger with how the two sides have looked.

[The Morning News]