Georgia is set to hire Kirby Smart as its coach. This falls under the heading of, “If you can’t beat ’em, hire ’em.” South Carolina is set to hire Will Muschamp as its coach. This falls under the heading of, “If you can beat ’em, hire ’em anyway.”
In four years of playing Muschamp’s Florida teams, the Gamecocks were 3-1. The last meeting saw the Gators blow a late lead and lose in overtime. The next day, Jeremy Foley fired Muschamp.
I do not understand South Carolina’s hire. I understand it less than any hire involving Lane Kiffin, lately the gold standard of tin-eared hires. If you can’t win at Florida, which is the best job in the SEC if not the nation, how can you hope to win at South Carolina, which is the fourth-best job in the SEC East?
Put it this way: Jim McElwain just took Muschamp’s leftovers and won 10 games and the SEC East. Muschamp never won the SEC East. And he’s going to do it at South Carolina, which has won the SEC East once ever?
At times like this, it’s fashionable to say, “Guy must have a good agent.” Muschamp has Jimmy Sexton, who is to college football as Scott Boras is to baseball. (Sexton also represents Kirby Smart. And Nick Saban. For brevity’s sake, it would be easier to name the coaches Sexton doesn’t represent.) But still: South Carolina had 54 days to search for a coach after Steve Spurrier up and quit, and the best it could do was a guy who’d been fired by Florida and who’d underperformed to the extent that he wouldn’t have been welcomed back as Auburn’s defensive coordinator?
South Carolina wanted Smart but was outmaneuvered by Georgia’s Greg McGarity. It wanted Tom Herman but managed only to get him a big fat raise at Houston. It was apparently turned down by Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, whose tweeted demurral made the Gamecocks look even worse. Oh, and that Rich Rod stuff happened as Clemson was winning the ACC championship to move to 13-0. It hasn’t been a good 54 days in Chickentown. Even worse days figure to follow.
If you’re Georgia, you have to be ecstatic about South Carolina’s move. For one thing, you get to play against Muschamp every year, and Muschamp was the one Florida coach against whom Mark Richt had a winning record. (He was 0-1 against Spurrier, 1-2 against the Zooker, 1-5 against Urban Meyer and 0-1 against McElwain. He was 3-1 against Coach Boom.) This also means that Muschamp will not be joining the Bulldogs as defensive coordinator. I’d call that a win-win of the highest magnitude.