Will Muschamp, Darlington graduate known as one of the top defensive minds in college football, ousted as South Carolina’s head football coach.

Will Muschamp, Darlington graduate known as one of the top defensive minds in college football, ousted as South Carolina’s head football coach.

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Will Muschamp greets fans at South Carolina in this image provided by the university.

Following a 59-42 shootout loss to Ole Miss Saturday night, Darlington graduate and Rome native Will Muschamp has been fired as head coach of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. Muschamp, 49,  leaves in his fifth year in Columbia with a 28-30 record, going 2-5 this season. His buyout is said to be worth more than $13 million. Mike Bobo, a fellow University of Georgia grad hired by Muschamp as offensive coordinator this season, takes over the interim for the Gamecocks as a search begins for a new head coach.

This was Muschamp’s second head coaching stint. He earlier led the Florida Gators, a natural fit as he spent considerable time in Gainesville before his family returned to Rome. Known as one of college football’s top defensive coaches, look for Muschamp to land quickly.

A member of Darlington’s Class of 1990, Mushchamp was a multisport competitor who walked on to the University of Georgia, overcoming a serious injury to do so. He is  member of the 2018 class of the Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame (details below).

The official word. Media release: University of South Carolina Director of Athletics Ray Tanner announced Sunday that Will Muschamp is no longer the head football coach, effective immediately. With this announcement, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo will serve as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

“After a thorough assessment of our football program, we have decided to make a change with the head football coach,” said Tanner. “I appreciate all that Will Muschamp has done for our program and wish him and his family the best moving forward. I believe our program will be well served by Coach Bobo as the interim head coach as we search for a new leader for Gamecock Football.”

UofSC President Bob Caslen and Tanner met with the coaching staff and student-athletes on Sunday to inform them of the change.

“I appreciate everything Coach Muschamp has done for our University. He is a true professional and strong advocate for our student-athletes,” said Caslen. “Under his leadership, our football players excelled in the classroom and served as mentors in the community. Will also brought much-needed stability to the program. However, I believe it is time to move in a different direction.”

A search for a new head football coach will begin immediately.

“We will begin a search immediately to find the best head coach for Carolina football,” added Tanner. “We have great facilities, a passionate fan base, a University that is committed to excellence in football and a support system that is second to none in developing student-athletes. We will be looking for someone with the energy, commitment and organizational skills that can move our program to a championship level.”

“Our search for a new head football coach begins today, and I have every confidence that Coach Tanner will find the right person to lead our program,” added Caslen. “A vibrant athletics program is integral to the college experience. I know how much football means to our students, faculty, alumni, and donors; I share that passion. Our priority remains winning a championship at the University of South Carolina.”

Muschamp was in his fifth season as South Carolina’s head coach with a record of 28-30, including a 2-5 mark this season. He is also the only coach to take the Gamecocks to bowl games in each of his first three seasons.

In his first season in Columbia, Muschamp guided the Gamecocks to a 6-7 mark and a spot in the Birmingham Bowl. The Gamecocks doubled their win total from the previous season while increasing their SEC wins from one to three.

His second season brought more success, as the team won nine games for just the seventh time in school history, was the only Power 5 school to have a multiple win total increase in 2016 and 2017, finished second in the SEC East and earned a second-straight bowl appearance. The season culminated with an Outback Bowl victory over Michigan on New Year’s Day.

Muschamp’s third squad posted a 7-6 campaign and a third-straight bowl appearance despite being decimated by injuries on the defensive side of the ball.

In his fourth year, the Gamecocks slipped to 4-8, but the season was highlighted by an overtime win over third-ranked Georgia, the eventual SEC Eastern Division champion.

Carolina defeated 15th-ranked Auburn on Oct. 17, 2020, to highlight this season’s achievements.

In nine seasons as a college head coach, all in the Southeastern Conference, Muschamp owns a 56-51 record, including a 28-21 mark in four seasons at Florida. He has also served as an assistant coach at Auburn, Texas, LSU, Valdosta State, Eastern Kentucky and West Georgia as well as the Miami Dolphins in the NFL.

From the Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame: Will Muschamp was inducted in 2018, winner of the lifetime achievement honor.  From the website:

Courtesy, Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame.

As a player, Will Muschamp earned his way from walk-on to a scholarship player by the spring of his redshirted freshman season at the University of Georgia.  In 1993 he earned a spot on the SEC Academic Honor Roll and in 1994 received the Scholar Athlete Award from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

After graduating from Georgia in 1994 he immediately began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Auburn. After earning his master’s degree in 1996 he worked as a secondary coach at West Georgia and Eastern Kentucky before moving into his first defensive coordinator position at Valdosta State in 2000, after a 10-2 record and a Gulf South championship with the Blazers, he began his first full-time coaching experience in the SEC at LSU. In four of his nine seasons as an FBS defensive coordinator, his teams allowed less than 100 rushing yards per game and twice led the nation in rushing defense. In 2003 his LSU defense lead the country by allowing 67 yards per game on the ground, the best mark by an SEC in the 2000s while Texas gave up just 73.1 yards on the ground in 2009.

During this time he coached in two national championship games, winning with LSU in 2003. With 16 years of coaching experience under him, Muschamp took over the reins as head coach at the University of Florida in 2011. He led the Gators to three bowl games in his four seasons and was recognized as the SEC Coach of the Year in 2012 after an 11-2 record and top 10 finish. In 2015, Muschamp became the 34th head football coach at the University of South Carolina. In his six years as a head coach, all in the SEC, Muschamp’s record is 43-32, a .573 winning percentage. With a 15-11 mark at South Carolina, he has matched Joe Morrison and Steve Spurrier for the most wins in their first two seasons at the helm.


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