The movie “Groundhog Day” comes to mind when I think about the current state of the South Carolina Gamecocks football program.
There was hope in the Spring, hope all Summer and even though the hope came with a qualifier (the schedule), it was expected that even if the record looked bad in the end, the team would show another step forward in building a winning culture.
Maybe there was even hope of some kind of upset against college football powers like Georgia, Clemson, Florida, Texas A&M or Clemson. There was definitely hope that the Gamecocks could end the 5-game skid against the Kentucky Wildcats.
Then Saturday happened.
The Gamecocks fell to the North Carolina Tar Heels 24-20. The defense gave up almost 500-yards of offense and blew a 20-9 third quarter lead to a team with a new coach, freshman quarterback and a 2-9 record in 2018.
Senior quarterback Jake Bentley threw two interceptions and looked at times like he was starting his first game at the collegiate level.
The one highlight was transfer running back Tavien Feaster who rushed for 72-yards on 13 carries including a 34-yard touchdown run in the first half. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry, but apparently that wasn’t enough to go for it on 4th and 1 late in the game.
Now, more trouble.
Bentley has a foot injury and will miss time and freshman Ryan Hilinski will take the helm for the Gamecocks.
Hilinski is a much higher touted recruit than Bentley was. He is a pro-style passer and is expected to be an absolute game changer. That being said, I’m worried about this.
The offensive line that we saw in Charlotte against the Tar Heels was beyond awful.
That shouldn’t be an issue this Saturday in Hilinski’s first game against Charleston Southern. It will be an issue for his second start, and first SEC start, against Alabama.
We’re only one game into the 2019 campaign. I want to have hope for the season and for the program, but as of today…I can’t find the hope.
It’s the same old song and dance for Will Muschamp.
Both in Gainesville as the head coach of Florida and now in Columbia with the Gamecocks, Will Muschamp has failed to develop the talent he recruits.
Yes, there are other folks on his staff who handle specific positions that have more of a role in individual development, but the head coach oversees it all. His job is to hire the right staff and implement the right philosophy to turn a program into a winner.
Muschamp is 0-2.
Coach Boom does have one heck of a buyout though, so the semantics of moving on from the Muschamp Era are a bit difficult.
If Muschamp is to be fired during the season (before 12/31/19), he will have to be paid $22 million. If fired after the New Year, he is owed $18.6 million. That is an insane number, so it will be difficult to part with him unless he agrees to take a massively discounted buyout to part ways with the Gamecocks.
This adds to the bad look for Athletic Director Ray Tanner. This is his hire, and another failed one. Beyond the failure on the field, the buyout the school agreed to is flat out bad.
I don’t know how it can be done, and I don’t know if we have the people in place to get it done, but something needs to change.
South Carolina should not have such a bad football program.
With the alumni base, the facilities and the SEC money, the Gamecocks should be among the best programs in the country. Not a doormat in the SEC East and not little brother in the Palmetto State.
Gamecock nation deserves better.
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