The last five weeks have been a whirlwind for Bryan McClendon.
The 32-year-old was named Georgia’s interim head coach on Dec. 3 after the Bulldogs fired Mark Richt. On Dec. 23, he was hired by Will Muschamp to be South Carolina’s wide receivers coach and offensive co-coordinator. On Jan. 2, McClendon earned a 1-0 career head coaching record when the Bulldogs beat Penn State 24-17 in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
For most of that time, he was also considering a job offer from new South Carolina coach Will Muschamp.
“He allowed me to be able to (consider it) within the times I had to work because there was a lot going on during that time,” McClendon said. “I knew working with these guys was something that I wanted to do from the very beginning. Once the staff came together, it made it an easy decision for me.”
McClendon had a chance to follow Richt to Miami, where Richt was named head coach shortly after being fired in Athens, and also had other opportunities, but chose South Carolina because of “the potential to do well here.”
“That last staff has taken this program to another level,” McClendon said. “Just to be a part of all that is really what excited me. Obviously to be able to compete in this league. I still think this is the best league in the world for football.”
McClendon’s job at South Carolina is the first time in his career he will wear anything other than Georgia’s red and black colors. He played on the Bulldogs’ 2005 SEC championship team, catching 35 passes and scoring six touchdowns, and he’s the son of Willie McClendon, a former Bulldogs running back who was the 1978 SEC player of the year.
After his playing career, McClendon joined Richt’s staff as a graduate assistant in 2007 and 2008, and then became a full-time assistant in 2009. He coached running backs, wide receivers and served as recruiting coordinator and special teams coordinator during his time in Athens.
McClendon will be the offensive co-coordinator at South Carolina along with Kurt Roper, but Roper will run the offense and call plays during the game.
“Kurt’s going to call it, but it’s not just mine or his ideas. It’s everybody in that room’s ideas,” McClendon said.
The most important lesson McClendon said he learned from Richt didn’t have anything to do with offensive football.
“You are in it to help these kids and make sure these kids, when they leave you, they are ready for the world,” McClendon said. “These kids are a lot more important than what they do on Saturday. So many of these kids, especially in college football nowadays and how it gets covered, I think a lot of them think their value is how well they do on the field. You have to let them understand that while that is important, there is a lot more to you than just that. That’s why there is such a big depression rate once people are done playing football. They think all their value is tied to football.”