Welcome to the very first edition of Tales From The Cockpit.
To get some business out-of-the-way, this blog will be a weekly (and sometimes twice weekly) opinion blog about South Carolina Gamecocks football. I am a fan journalist, so prepare yourself for that before reading…though I’m sure most of you already know that.
Now, let’s get down to business.
2015 was horrible for Gamecocks fans. There’s no way to sugar coat it.
We saw our legendary coach walk away mid-season after realizing his lack of recruiting over the past couple of years was resulting in a sub-par season and in the end we watched our rival Clemson Tigers play for a National Championship while we licked the wounds left by a 3-9 season including a loss to The Citadel.
It wasn’t pretty.
The anxiety and embarrassment didn’t end with the 3-9 season though. Then came the coaching search. Rumors flew around like crazy and included up and coming coaches like Justin Fuente from Memphis and Tom Herman from Houston. Other rumors (really fan hopes) even included the recently dumped Mark Richt…but we knew he wasn’t coming he had his sights on “The U” from day one.
In the end Fuente opted for Virginia Tech’s vacancy and Houston opened their wallet to retain Herman with Power-5 hopes in their future.
Then came Coach Boom, Will Muschamp.
Now for all we know Ray Tanner and company had Muschamp pegged from the start. After all he was a guy that Spurrier always raved about. For some fans, myself included, it seemed at first like the ultimate settle. Muschamp brought a strong resume of experience to the job, but also brought the stain of his only head coaching experience at the University of Florida.
But hey, 4-8 IS better than 3-9, right?
All jokes aside, I’ve come around on this decision. It just took a little time to get the taste of the frustrating 3-9 season out of my mouth.
Think about it.
In the final game of the season the 3-8 (at the time) Gamecocks fought hard, tooth and nail, with the eventual national runner-ups. Just seven short days after losing at home to The Citadel. They were fired up and ready to go because of a fiery interim coach, Shawn Elliot. A coach who outside of big-time program experience is a lot like Will Muschamp.
Also, one thing that I’ve said since the day Muschamp was hired…this defense needs a coach like this.
The past few years have been hard to watch with SEC offenses (And Clemson’s) slicing and dicing the Gamecock defense for what seemed like a thousand yards a game.
With Muschamp I highly doubt that will be the case.
Spare me the stats of his one season as defensive coordinator at Auburn, I get it….but that was also a snapshot in comparison to his success over the years. The issue I saw over the last few seasons at South Carolina was tackling, or lack there of. With Coach Boom at the helm, you can bet your backside they’ll learn how to square up and tackle somebody.
The gripe against Coach Boom in Gainesville was one aimed at his offense. An offense that ranked near the worst in college football for his entire tenure with the Gators, even in his second season when Florida earned a Sugar Bowl birth and finished the season 11-2…but those defenses were pretty darn good.
Couple his defensive prowess with the lessons he learned through his failure at Florida and South Carolina fans should really have nothing but hope for the future.
No, this team will not compete for an SEC championship this year and probably won’t anytime soon. Heck, I’m not sure the 11-wins a year level they reached with Spurrier will return anytime soon…but when you start at 3-9, it’s all uphill from here.
Even my old friend Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel has faith that Muschamp will succeed in Columbia. This coming from a guy who destroyed Muschamp after the 4-8 season…and I should know, I was sitting next to him every morning in the palatial 96.9/740 The Game studios in Orlando when he did it.
So, Gamecock Nation, it’s time to drop the negativity and embrace our new future.
The era of Coach Boom is upon us.
In Muschamp we trust.
Forever to thee.
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