South Carolina’s football team still has one coaching staff position to fill. When that happens, it’s a good bet one qualification will be there and come up rather quickly.
Time spent in the SEC.
Almost every member of Will Muschamp’s staff has deep roots in the conference. According to 247Sports, the seven with previous staff experience have spent more than five combined decades with SEC teams (plus a few serving as graduate assistants and in non-staff roles).
One might ask if there’s a benefit to fresh blood, or if there’s a good-old-boy element to keeping those same coaches in circulation. But there are other factors that drive keeping these assistants close.
“If you haven't coached in this league, if you haven't recruited in this league, it is a learning curve when you get into this league,” said Tony Barnhart, a reporter who has covered southern football for three decades. “Recruiting is very, very difficult. The skill level is different, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines. So coaches will tell you there’s a significant learning curve. I think coaches want to try to limit how steep that learning curve is.”
This makes sense, as many of the states within the conference footprint are both deep in talent heavily recruited on a regional and national scale. Muschamp has spent the past 11 years recruiting SEC trails, so it follows he’d value it.
Longtime CBS broadcaster Gary Danielson suggested there’s also an economic factor, as the resources of SEC programs tend to draw in good coaches and keep them around. According to USA Today’s data from 2015, the five best-paid staffs in the country resided in the conference, and South Carolina was 10th nationally, but only sixth in the league.
“As you work your way up the ladder of coaching, a next logical move is to go to the SEC,” Danielson said. “They pay well. There’s a riches of recruiting that you can go and tap into. There’s a lot of jobs where football is important.”