On the sideline on Saturday, the differences between current South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp and former South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier are evident to most observers.
Spurrier was the offensive guru. Muschamp is more involved in the defense. Spurrier almost never was without his signature visor. Only the worst of downpours gets Muschamp into any type of hat at all.
In a less public but equally important part of the job, the two are similarly dissimilar, said Rivals national recruiting director Mike Farrell.
Muschamp “is an extremely prepared recruiter. He’s involved. He likes it,” Farrell said. “He’s sort of the anti-Spurrier. Spurrier was a great coach who could put things together, but he just didn’t like recruiting that much. Will Muschamp, based on what kids tell me, he’s very prepared. He’s rarely off guard with any question asked by a parent or a kid.”
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During the interview process, Muschamp impressed Gamecocks athletics director Ray Tanner with his commitment to recruiting. He serves as his own recruiting coordinator and points to that fact with pride.
“He’s always been a good recruiter,” Farrell said. “At Texas, he did a good job. Now at Texas it wasn’t that difficult. Most of those in-state kids wanted to go Texas. At Florida, he did a really good job recruiting, especially on the defensive side of the ball. When he went to Auburn, a lot of kids followed him over so that means kids like him, they believe in him, they want to play for him. At South Carolina, he’s been steadily competitive.”
In terms of recruiting ranking, that translates into the nation’s 25th-best class in 2016, 21st in 2017, 18th in 2018 and a projected class for 2019 ranked No. 22, based on 247Sports’ Composite ranking that factors in all networks. The Gamecocks currently have 16 players committed, and the early signing period begins Dec. 19.
Farrell expects those rankings to gradually improve under Muschamp.
“They are not going to be in the top five nationally,” he said, “but they’re always going to finish in the top 15-20 range.”
Having the head coach involved in recruiting has become essential, 247Sports national recruiting director Steve Wiltfong said.
“It’s incredibly important because kids like to know and parents like to know that the person at the top of the food chain is really invested,” he said.
On the recruiting trail, Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart are known for being direct whereas Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is “a car salesman,” Farrell said.
“I would say Will Muschamp is in between those two types,” Farrell said.
“I think he’s respected,” Rivals recruiting analyst Chad Simmons said. “He doesn’t get a whole lot of buzz, positive or negative. He’s not one of those head coaches. I always hear he’s a serious guy, down-to-earth guy, intense guy. The way he’s viewed on the sideline, he’s viewed in that same way on the trail. He doesn’t fill a whole lot of headlines.”
Recruiting in the same state as No. 2 Clemson, which is “as well-oiled a recruiting machine as there is in America,” makes Muschamp’s role as a recruiter even more important, Wiltfong said.
“At South Carolina, it’s not only important for the head coach to be a great evaluator but you better work your (butt) off to go get them,” he said. “There are schools that are still considered sexier, and you’re involvement may be what evens that out.”