South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp shook up the Gamecocks coaching staff on Wednesday, hiring one new assistant, pushing another out and giving another a raise and contract extension.
Thomas Brown, 32, a former Georgia running back and teammate of South Carolina offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon, was hired to coach South Carolina’s running backs. Bobby Bentley, who has coached running backs for the last three seasons, will move to tight ends coach, and Pat Washington, who has been on Muschamp’s staff for three years, will not be retained when his contract runs out on May 31.
The Gamecocks asked Washington to leave to make room for Brown, who recently lost his job as the offensive coordinator at Miami when head coach Mark Richt resigned. South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner declined to say if Washington quit or was fired but said “it’s not an enjoyable experience.”
“It’s not a good day,” he said. “We’re all professionals. There are changes, and it seems like in the world of sports it’s more prevalent than it has been in the past, but those are not easy days.”
Brown and McClendon coached together at Georgia in 2015 before Brown followed Richt to Miami. Brown also has coached at Marshall and at Wisconsin, where he coached Melvin Gordon during Gordon’s Heisman runner-up season.
“Thomas is an accomplished running backs coach who has done a great job at multiple spots, including Wisconsin, Georgia and Miami,” Muschamp said in a statement released by the school. “He’s an outstanding young football coach, having been a coordinator at Miami, and is an outstanding recruiter. We are excited to have him part of the Gamecock family.”
Brown, who left Georgia as the fifth-leading rusher in school history, played at Tucker High School in Atlanta, a recruiting hotbed.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Brown said in a statement released by USC. “I have great respect for Coach Muschamp. I’ve known him for a long time. Obviously, I’ve been around Coach McClendon. We played together at Georgia and worked together for a year at Georgia, and always talked about having the opportunity to get back on the same side together. This is a great place and I’m looking forward to it.”
Brown will begin his duties immediately at South Carolina.
“The recruiting cycle kicks back in, so he needs to be on the road so there was some urgency to move forward as quick as we could,” Tanner said. “I have had a chance to meet him and I was impressed. He’s a high-energy young man who has been around a lot of great running backs. I am excited to have him and his family in Columbia and ready to go to work.”
Offensive line coach Eric Wolford also received a two-year contract extension through the 2021 season and a $100,000 raise that increases his annual salary to $700,000.
“There were some opportunities out there for him and we made the decision to do this today,” Tanner said. “Eric Wolford is certainly valued by Coach Muschamp as part of his coaching staff. We certainly want him to remain part of our staff. That was important to us.”
Washington’s departure will either end a 30-year collegiate career or lead to another addition to a resume that already has a lot of entries. The former Auburn quarterback has coached at Louisiana-Lafayette, TCU, Baylor, Tennessee, Kansas State, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Kentucky and Missouri. Washington will be paid his full salary through the end of his contract on May 31 unless he gets another job before that time.
Muschamp has had at least one coaching change on his staff during his three offseasons at South Carolina, and Tanner did not rule out another one before the 2019 season begins.
“I don’t know what will happen in the future, but that possibility always exists, especially in a football program where there are a lot of people,” Tanner said.
South Carolina Coaching Salaries
Head coach Will Muschamp $4.4 million (contract through 2023)
Defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson $1.2 million (through 2021)
Offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon $1 million (through 2021)
Offensive line coach Eric Wolford $700,000 (through 2021)
Quarterbacks coach Dan Werner $700,000 (through 2020)
Defensive line coach Lance Thompson $550,000 (through 2019)
Linebackers/special teams Coleman Hutzler $475,000 (through 2019)
Tight ends coach Bobby Bentley $400,000 (through 2019)
Outside linebackers coach Mike Peterson $300,000 (through 2019)
Running backs coach Thomas Brown $300,000 (through 2020)
Special teams assistant Kyle Krantz $125,000 (through May 31)