Will Muschamp has won the spring.
Granted, it’s not the most important part of the season on the calendar in college football, but it’s a good start for South Carolina’s new coach.
Muschamp made his eighth of what will be nine appearances on the Gamecock Club’s Spurs Up Tour on Wednesday evening in Aiken. Like the previous seven, he spent around an hour signing posters prior to his stump speech, and then took every question his audience had after that.
The stump speech is always the same. Muschamp isn’t Winston Churchill, but you know more about his football team when it’s over than when it began, which isn’t always the case when listening to a college football coach.
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Muschamp said when he took the job, and has said several times since, he believes that a connection to the team’s fan base is important. So far he has backed up that statement. That kind of thinking used to be a given. College coaches made dozens of offseason stops, pressing flesh and lobbing one-liners over their rival’s fence. (Some of Steve Spurrier’s best work came after a plate of catered BBQ.)
But as college football becomes more and more of an island, and floats further and further away from the university mainland, many coaches are happy to stay on the beach and simply wave back at the fan base whose loyalties pay for that property.
Alabama canceled its Crimson Caravan this year. It’s officially “on hold.”
First-year Georgia coach Kirby Smart’s making only five speaking appearances, and at least one of those was invitation only, and media members have been required to purchase tickets to attend any of them.
Muschamp had some wooing to do when he got the job. His 28-21 record and eventual firing at Florida had many Gamecock fans worrying that their team was getting damaged goods when he was hired in December. But he’s turned much of the local public perception in his favor with an honest and determined effort on the speaking trail.
His optimism, while risky considering he inherited a 3-9 football team, has been well-received.
“I’ve got a one-year timetable,” Muschamp said. “I’m a glass half full guy.”
He received a standing ovation Wednesday night, just as he has in his previous stops.
“It’s great to be undefeated,” he quipped in Aiken, just as he did in Florence before that and Columbia before that, etc. “We’ll see if y’all are standing next year.”
As he points out, this isn’t the hard part. His tenure is new, optimism is easy and there seems nowhere to go but up. There will be springs it won’t be quite so rosy, so here’s hoping Muschamp stays committed to that connection to the fan base no matter what happens in the falls.
‘Spurs Up’ Tour
The Gamecock Club’s 2016 “Spurs Up” Tour featuring coach Will Muschamp and his “Boom Bus” is visiting 10 locations in South Carolina, where fans have received autographs and updates from Muschamp.