It’s probably folly for the South Carolina beat writer for this newspaper, or any other media outlet, to voice an opinion on something going on at Clemson. The nature of the Gamecocks-Tigers rivalry is such that anything that is voiced by one side is sure to be taken incorrectly and/or antagonistically by a large and loud segment of the other fan base or even that fan base.
All that being said, here goes, and I’ll bring this topic back around to the Gamecocks quickly after this: It seems to me that both head coach Dabo Swinney and now former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant handled their situations honorably and respectfully and logically. I was impressed by both sides.
OK, there’s that. Now here’s how this comes back around to South Carolina. Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp was asked in a roundabout way about Bryant’s departure on Wednesday’s SEC teleconference.
“I can only comment on South Carolina,” Muschamp said. “I understand the new rules and what not, if that’s what (the player) wants to do, at the end of the day we want guys that want to be here. If they don’t want to be here, we wish them the best.”
The rule Muschamp is referring to is the first-year NCAA rule that allows players to redshirt in a season even if they have played four or fewer games. It’s the reason for the timing of Bryant’s departure from Clemson and several other departures this week, and it’s the new reality in college football.
One month into every season, we’ll all be monitoring who is leaving their team in preparation for finding greener pastures next season. In the case of Bryant and other players who qualify for the graduate transfer rule, they can play immediately at their new school. And the fans and media aren’t the only people who will be monitoring the situation.
“You are always looking to better your football team, there is no doubt about that,” Muschamp said. “If a young man reaches out to us and we think it could be a good fit and help our football team improve then certainly, but that’s way down the road.”
Muschamp was not referring to Bryant with that comment, and it’s not probable, but certainly not impossible, that Bryant ends up as a Gamecock. Athlon Sports released a 15-team list Wednesday of teams where Bryant might land, and South Carolina was on the list. Rest assured, we’ll all be watching Bryant in the next month and the transfer market for years to come.
“It’s the rule; it’s going to be here; you have to prepare for it,” Muschamp said.