Josh Kendall

Will Muschamp’s seat not hot, but it’s not exactly cool

No, Will Muschamp is not on the hot seat.

In fact, nobody has even said Will Muschamp is on the hot seat. The “hot seat” talk surrounding South Carolina’s new head football coach comes from a national columnist who listed Muschamp in the “pressure mounting” category of his annual “hot seat rankings.”

Nobody is saying there’s any chance Muschamp’s job is in jeopardy in the next year, but there is a real issue at the heart of this conversation and that is this: The Gamecocks’ new coach won’t get the benefit of the doubt usually afforded new coaches.

Muschamp was Florida’s coach from 2011-2014 and was fired with a 28-21 record. Fair or not, that was his honeymoon period.

He entered his turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday knowing that, and he seemed at ease in spite of it, joking with writers he knew from the Gators beat and admitting up front that he wasn’t going to be as witty as his South Carolina predecessor.

“I’m going to go ahead and tell you I’m going to disappoint you now,” Muschamp said. “I’m not as entertaining as him. You don’t need to write an article about it tomorrow morning. There’s only one Steve Spurrier in life, and I’m not it.”

In the narrative, in fact, Muschamp is the anti-Spurrier. Spurrier is known as the man who brought offense to the Southeastern Conference. Muschamp is known as the man who killed it at Florida. The Gators never finished higher than 10th in the SEC in offense during his tenure. The last three years, they were 12th, 14th and 12th.

“At the end of the day, we played well on defense over a four-year period (at Florida). Over a four-year period, we played well on special teams. Over a four-year period, academically our guys did extremely well,” Muschamp said. “Our guys made really good decisions on and off the field. Our community service was voluntary when I was there for the most part.

“Really, it comes back to offense. I’m taking full responsibility for that and making it better in this situation.”

Throughout the day, Muschamp was asked various forms of the question: “What did you learn at Florida that will help you at South Carolina?”

“I don’t know that you ever look at one thing and say, ‘This is it,’” he said. “I know sometimes it’s easy for a story to wrap it in a bow and say bingo, Eureka, here we go. That’s good for a story, but that’s not necessarily the way it works.”

Like the question of whether Muschamp’s seat is hot or warm or merely highly scrutinized, the answer to “What have you learned?” is too far down the road to see at the moment. Muschamp maintained his positive approach Thursday, dismissing the notion that it is harder to win at South Carolina than at Florida and speaking optimistically about the talent level of his team.

“I’m extremely excited,” he said. “There is no three-year plan, five-year plan. They plan to win now. OK? That’s my mentality.”

“I wouldn’t really understand a coach who came in and said, ‘I want to win later,’ ” South Carolina senior offensive lineman Mason Zandi said. “He came in here with a plan, and he stated what he wanted to accomplish, and we’re going from there.”

The past, Zandi said, is the past, and the narratives that were born there can stay for all he cares.

“Only a fool trips over what’s behind him,” Zandi said. “We are just looking forward.”

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