It was a tough season with an embarrassing loss to Clemson as the final blow. We now wait for a bowl game that seems beneath us. I have heard comments that we should somehow skip the bowl game because "we don't deserve it". Just stop. The actual game is irrelevant at this point, I get that. What is not irrelevant is the month plus of practice time that we will get for being a bowl team. That is important, especially with what we saw this year on defense. Not playing in a bowl game, just puts us further behind for next season. We can't afford that! I understand the frustration, but let's keep things in perspective.
Where do we go from here? The answer seems to be Will Muschamp. I am on board with that pursuit but I am also very careful to not throw Lorenzo Ward under the proverbial bus. Coach Ward didn't suddenly become awful in one season. He was real good at his job previous to this season. What changed? The talent. I am not saying that Ward shouldn't be held accountable. I would have liked to see more improvement in the defense as the year went along. It wasn't there. However, the amount of talent we lost on defense has more to do with our struggles than anything Lorenzo Ward did or didn't do. Once again, let's keep it in perspective.
I am on board with hiring Muschamp for transition purposes. The big elephant in the room is when Steve Spurrier will retire. He just announced today that he would be back for next season. At some point though, the uncertainty of his future is going to hurt recruiting. Muschamp will be in demand to take over the defenses of Auburn, Texas A&M and maybe even Florida State. He has options. What do we have to offer that nobody else does? A head coaching job in the very near future.
I believe that Steve Spurrier will do everything in his power to leave the program in the best possible situation when it is time for him to retire. Lou Holtz did that by personally reaching out to Spurrier to take the Gamecock job as he was retiring. It is time for Spurrier and Ray Tanner to do the same. Offer Will Muschamp a contract as the defensive coordinator/Associate Head Coach. Put it in his contract that he will be the Head Coach when Spurrier retires and I am sure the HBC can be candid with Muschamp about that precise timeline.
I make this move because I truly believe that Will Muschamp will be successful as a head coach. I know he struggled at Florida. He made some mistakes and had a lot of bad luck. He never could get the offense going and made a terrible hire of Charlie Weiss as his first offensive coordinator. That bad hire led to a domino effect of misery with the Gator offense. It never got on track. Lesson learned. We can be the beneficiary of a talented young coach who is ready to put the lessons he has learned to use.
Lorenzo Ward becomes a casualty in this plan. I would feel bad for him because I do think he has done a really good job. However, the looming retirement of Spurrier and the availability of Muschamp makes it a critical time for the program. I doubt Ward would stay on in a lesser role, it would be the best of both worlds if he did. The Gamecocks need to be thinking about the transition sooner rather than later. Will Muschamp is the answer for now and more importantly the future.