South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp will have a chance to lead his Gamecocks to a second consecutive bowl win in late December when they play in the just-announced Belk Bowl game against Virginia.
There are a lot of areas in which finishing the season with a victory can help a team. Some are important. Some are not, such as one Muschamp mentioned an hour after it was announced: the wardrobe.
“You get a bunch of bowl gear, and if you lose the game, you damn sure don’t want to wear any of it,” Muschamp said. “I haven’t put anything on from the Birmingham Bowl, I’ll tell you that.”
That Birmingham Bowl capped his first season, an overtime affair where a rally against South Florida fell short. The mood at the end of that 6-7 season was far different from the one after upsetting Michigan to gain a ninth win in 2017.
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“When you win the bowl game, it just makes everybody feel better about what’s going on, where the program is headed,” Muschamp said.
The people he perhaps most wants to feel that emotion are the recruits he’ll be working to bring in.
When asked about the benefits, he started on that front. He and his staff plan to have the vast majority of the 2019 class locked in on Dec. 19, more than a week before the team faces Virginia in Bank of America Stadium.
But there will be a few more pieces to lock in, and more building toward the future.
“That’s the here and now, as far as, you come off the early signing period, two weeks later, you’re in a bowl game,” Muschamp said. “You’re on national TV. You’re out on the road within the next 10 days, seeing prospective student-athletes. I think that’s a huge part of it.”
His staff has spent a lot of time in the Charlotte area, pulling in the likes of Rick Sandidge, Jovaughn Gwyn and commit Derek Boykins.
His last bowl win produced the slogan “All Gas, No Brakes” in the moments after. That was a theme for most of the year, and he said the bowl win helps launch a team in another way.
“It also helps in the offseason program,” Muschamp said. ”Our guys understand that coming off a win gives you a little more confidence in your program about where you are. But the 2018 team will close its book in Charlotte.”