From Texas to Florida to Auburn, Will Muschamp has coached at some elite programs. That trend will continue well into the future, as the 44-year-old was named head coach at South Carolina earlier this month.
The Gamecocks, however, aren’t getting the Muschamp who served as defensive coordinator at Texas or Auburn, nor are they getting the Muschamp who was head coach at Florida. Rather, they’re getting a combination of all three.
“I think in any situation – whether it’s a position coach, a coordinator, a head coach or a CEO of a program – you live and learn,” Muschamp said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “You go through situations and you look back at the situation, and you got to be real critical with yourself first of all, which I am, as far as what could you have done differently given that situation. But it’s also about what information did you have at the time, and why did you make the decision? And so, those are things, to me, that are really critical to be able to go back and self-evaluate. I’m a much better head coach now than I was five years ago because of the experiences (I’ve had).”
From staff issues, to roster issues, to injuries to recruiting, there’s a lot that goes into being a head coach, especially at a major university.
“It goes a lot further than Saturday afternoon,” Muschamp said, “and those are the things I think I’m much more equipped with now than maybe I was five years ago. Being able to learn from those experiences is huge.”
Muschamp has spent the last five years coaching in the SEC, and thus, knows the league’s recruiting scene quite well. He hopes to revive a program that went 33-6 under Steve Spurrier from 2011 to 2013, but has gone 10-15 over the last two seasons.
“Coach Spurrier raised the expectations here at South Carolina, which is great, and we want to continue to build on that,” Muschamp said. “But I’m very familiar with this league. The day-to-day operations in recruiting, they understand it’s a day-to-day process. I always tell our assistant coaches (that) recruiting is like shaving: If you don’t do it every day, you start looking like a bum. So you better understand the things you’ve got to do off the field in recruiting every single day to have the type of players to win a championship. I think within a five-hour radius here of Columbia, we can attract the type of student-athlete we need to win the SEC-East, which will put us on the national stage. . . . I think we’re very capable of accomplishing whatever we need to.”
With a 3-9 record, South Carolina will not be playing in a bowl game for the first time since 2007. The Gamecocks have won their last four bowl games – they beat Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin and Miami from 2011 to 2014, respectively – which is great. But both Muschamp and Doug Gottlieb feel people put a little too much stock into bowl games, at least in terms of how they affect the perception of a league.
“It’s a one-game situation after a month off,” Muschamp said. “There’s so many coaching changes, you got certain guys not coaching bowl games – how will the players react? In a lot of situations, unless you’re in the playoff, you might have some players thinking about going out early for the NFL Draft. So you don’t know where their mind is.”
Marcus Lattimore will try to keep those minds focused at all times. The former Gamecock standout has joined Muschamp’s staff and will serve not as a football coach, but as a life coach.
“Marcus embodies everything that we want in a student-athlete at the University of South Carolina,” Muschamp said. “He could have gone anywhere he wanted in the country and he wanted to stay home and play for the University of South Carolina. He came here and did a wonderful job on and off the field in representing this university in a first-class manner.”
Lattimore, 24, will be there to lend an ear and give advice to players on a variety of topics.
“Wherever you go to school, there’s going to be some tough days,” Muschamp said. “There’s going to be some days that you need some outlets. You need some people to lean on. (He can help) mentor these young men through difficult times – because there’s going to be difficult times, whether it’s with a relationship or whatever the issues are that come up. To be able to have Marcus as part of our staff, a guy that did it at the highest level, is going to be really big for us.”