David Cloninger

Muschamp’s sideline behavior to define USC tenure?

Coach Boom came to South Carolina with a reputation, defined in the eye of the beholder. When he’s winning, he’s fiery and intense and just what the team needs. When he’s losing, he’s throwing a tantrum and a poor sport and out of control.

So which one has taken over the Gamecocks?

We won’t know for a while, but considering how concerned athletic director Ray Tanner is with sideline behavior from all of his coaches, it may be wise to bet on a toned-down Muschamp, regardless of his record.

The first-year coach was asked about it on Thursday. He brought up the same point of perception, and then brushed it aside. “At the end of the day, a lot of that’s calculated,” Muschamp said. “How much does that equal reality? I think nothing.”

Last year’s Iron Bowl, though, was reality, and didn’t appear calculated. Muschamp certainly didn’t agree with a fourth-quarter sideline infraction and the faces he made were scary. The blowup is still one of the first things that’s recalled when Muschamp’s name is mentioned.

That certainly wasn’t calculated. How could it be, in a six-point game that could have won a rivalry matchup and presumably knocked the eventual national champ Tide out of that picture?

Then again, that’s an aspect of the guy that his players love. And if that game turns into a win, Muschamp’s expression during that tirade is emblazoned on the best-selling T-shirt on the Plains.

That was one situation. As was Muschamp saying he doesn’t remember a specific game last year where he reportedly broke a finger while busting a clipboard. It’s those kinds of incidents, along with his Florida career, that have cast storm clouds over his USC tenure before he’s coached a game.

Yet if more wins are obtained at Florida, he’s still there and “Coach Boom” is what kids mention when they sign to play for him.

A substantial honeymoon, perhaps all of this season, will be granted to Muschamp because his team doesn’t have much proven talent. If USC loses, well, nobody could have won with it.

And if the Gamecocks somehow win more than they lose, Muschamp will be lauded as, again, just what the team needs.

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