Josh Kendall

Dear Gamecock Nation: It’s time to embrace Will Muschamp

New South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp and former coach Steve Spurrier talk before a 2014 game.
New South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp and former coach Steve Spurrier talk before a 2014 game. gmelendez@thestate.com

South Carolina has a new football coach, and the Gamecocks fan base is … well, honestly, it’s nervous.

That’s because South Carolina’s new coach is Florida’s old coach (this is becoming a pattern), and it didn’t work out very well for Will Muschamp at Florida. He was fired after four seasons with a 28-21 overall record, and then spent a very well-paid transition season as Auburn’s defensive coordinator before agreeing Sunday to a deal to become the Gamecocks’ 34th head coach.

There were enough issues with Muschamp’s tenure at Florida that South Carolina fans have a right to their anxiety for now, but none of those issues were off-field problems. He inherited a program that outgoing coach Urban Meyer admitted was “broken” and restored its sense of right and wrong.

Muschamp is a sight to see on the sideline, and sometimes it’s not a pretty sight. Where Steve Spurrier sometimes tossed a visor, you worry sometimes that Muschamp is going to toss a defensive back. He says words on the sideline he would not say, presumably, in front of his pastor or his mother, but there has never been any indication that sideline persona has crossed over into poor treatment of his players or the people around him in the real world. Those are the types of things that would have come out following Muschamp’s tenure had they happened.

Most people at Florida speak highly of the type of person Muschamp is. Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley hated firing Muschamp, even when it became inevitable, because he liked Muschamp so much.

So worry about an offense that was on average 10th in the SEC in Muschamp’s tenure at Florida, but don’t worry about the Gamecocks’ moral compass. USC athletics director Ray Tanner hired a good person, a good recruiter and a good defensive coordinator Sunday. Those things won’t be much solace to South Carolina fans if he’s not a good head coach.

There are plenty of reasons to believe Muschamp will be a good head coach in his second try (the fact that intelligent people in every job that has ever existed have learned invaluable lessons through tortuous trial-and-error sessions is chief among those reasons), and today is the time for Gamecock fans to embrace that reality.

And embrace Muschamp.

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