When Georgia goes on the road for its first SEC contest of the year, the Bulldogs will be stepping into a hostile environment. Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., is one of the most unique atmospheres in college football between its playing of Sandstrom and the wails of the Gamecock mascot. Add in the usual September South Carolina heat and it should be an uncomfortable setting for Georgia.
But don’t expect new co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp to feel unwelcomed in his former stadium. Muschamp is still plenty liked by players on South Carolina’s current team.
“My relationship with coach Muschamp is good,” South Carolina defensive lineman Zaach Pickens said of Muschamp. “Hated that he left but he’s a wonderful coach. I know he’s a great coach. I’m glad he’s getting some recognition back.”
Muschamp was fired midway through the 2020 season. He actually didn’t coach the team the last time the Bulldogs visited South Carolina. His final game against Georgia as South Carolina’s head coach was the 2019 upset win over the Bulldogs.
Georgia first brought Muschamp in as an analyst at the start of the 2021 season. But after Scott Cochran stepped away in early August, Muschamp took as the special teams coordinator for Georgia. As a full-time staff member, Muschamp was able to help recruit on the road for Georgia, reeling in a number of top prospects for Georgia.
Related: Joenel Aguero commitment a big win for Georgia football on multiple fronts
In 2022, he’ll get to coach up some of those prospects as Muschamp was promoted to co-defensive coordinator along with Glenn Schumann. Muschamp has worked heavily with the safeties on Georgia’s team, allowing new defensive backs coach Fran Brown to focus more on the cornerback position.
“He’s been unbelievable. A great staff guy,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “Super positive with our players. Players enjoy and love being around Coach Muschamp. I’m thankful he and his family are on our staff and with our program.”
While Smart hasn’t revealed who will be signaling in defensive play calls between Muschamp and Schumann, both will be heavily involved in developing the Georgia defense. The Bulldogs have to replace eight starters from last season’s title team, five of which were first-round picks.
But Muschamp is still working with a full deck. The Bulldogs return key defenders such as Nolan Smith and Jalen Carter.
Smith shared at SEC media days what Muschamp brings to this Georgia, with all his prior knowledge at stops like South Carolina, Auburn and LSU.
“I think coach Muschamp means a lot. He brings a lot of diversity and also a lot of age and a lot of wisdom,” Smith said. “Because I used to watch him, honestly, on TV when I was 7 and 8 years old. I think that they invested into the program — like, they went here and they care more about the program and they don’t want to see us, you know fail.”
Muschamp also played at Georgia, something he is quick to remind players about when they start to mention his age in comparison to some of Georgia’s other staff members. Strange as it sounds, Muschamp is the oldest coach on Georgia’s defensive staff as he turns 51 the week fall camp opens for Georgia.
The trip to South Carolina will likely mean a lot to Muschamp, along with fellow South Carolina staffers Bryan McClendon and Mike Bobo. We know it will mean a lot to South Carolina players, with Pickens calling it, “a Super Bowl right there battle between us.”