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Football

Muschamp Hired To Lead Carolina Football

Dec. 7, 2015

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Will Muschamp was introduced as the University of South Carolina's 34th head football coach in a press conference held at Williams-Brice Stadium on Monday.

Regarded as an outstanding defensive mind, Muschamp, 44, is a 21-year coaching veteran, including 13 years in the Southeastern Conference. He has previous head coaching experience, posting a 28-21 record (.571) at the University of Florida from 2011-14. He led the Gators to three bowl games in his four seasons in Gainesville and was recognized as the SEC Coach of the Year in 2012 after guiding Florida to an 11-2 record and a Top-10 finish.

The Rome, Ga., native has coached in two national championship games (2003 and 2009), winning with LSU in 2003, and coached in a pair of BCS bowl games, following the 2008 and 2012 seasons. Muschamp has coached in the SEC Championship Game twice and once in the Big 12 Championship Game, winning all three. In addition, he was a finalist for the 2007 Broyles Award presented annually to the nation's top assistant coach.

Muschamp most recently served as the defensive coordinator at Auburn University in 2015, his third stint as an SEC defensive coordinator. He also held that title with Auburn from 2006-07 and at LSU from 2002-04. In his six seasons as an SEC defensive coordinator, Muschamp's units ranked among the nation's Top-10 in total defense and in scoring defense five times.

Prior to taking the reins at Florida, Muschamp served as the defensive coordinator at the University of Texas from 2008-10. Under his guidance, the Longhorn defense ranked No. 1 in the nation with 119 sacks, and ranked in the Top-10 nationally allowing 2.9 yards per rushing attempt (third), 96.7 rushing yards per game (fourth), and 297.4 yards per game (seventh), all Big 12 bests during that span. In 2009, the Longhorns played in the BCS National Championship Game. Under Muschamp's tutelage at Texas, Brian Orakpo won the 2008 Rotary Lombardi, Bronko Nagurski and Ted Hendricks awards. In the 2009 and 2010 NFL Drafts, Muschamp had a combined eight players drafted, seven in the first four rounds and two first-rounders, Orakpo and Earl Thomas.

Muschamp served with the NFL's Miami Dolphins as Assistant Head Coach for Defense in 2005 under Nick Saban.

Muschamp's first full-time coaching experience in the SEC came at LSU. He was the Tigers' linebacker coach for one season before being elevated to defensive coordinator from 2002-04. His 2003 defense helped the Tigers to the national championship by leading the nation both in scoring defense (11.0 points per game) and total defense (252.0 yards per game), while finishing second nationally in pass efficiency defense (89.8) and third in rushing defense (67.0 yards per game)

In four of his nine seasons as an FBS defensive coordinator, his teams have allowed less than 100 rushing yards per game and twice led the nation in rushing defense. His 2003 LSU defense led the country by allowing 67 yards per game on the ground, the best mark by an SEC team in the 2000s, while Texas gave up just 73.1 yards on the ground in 2009 to pace the nation.

The 1994 Georgia graduate moved immediately into coaching, working as a graduate assistant at Auburn from 1995-96, earning his master's degree in 1996. He became a secondary coach at West Georgia (1998) and Eastern Kentucky (1999) before moving on to his first defensive coordinator position at Valdosta State for the 2000 season, where he helped the Blazers to a 10-2 record and the Gulf South championship.

During his playing career at Georgia, Muschamp earned his way from walk-on to scholarship player by the spring of his redshirt freshman season and eventually was named co-captain his senior season. He also earned a spot on the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 1993.

Born August 3, 1971, Muschamp and his wife, the former Carol Davis, have two sons, Jackson and Whit.

MUSCHAMP'S COACHING TIMELINE:
1995-96 Auburn (Graduate Assistant)
1998 West Georgia (Defensive Backs)
1999 Eastern Kentucky (Defensive Backs)
2000 Valdosta State (Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs)
2001 LSU (Defensive Backs)
2002-04 LSU (Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs)
2005 Miami Dolphins (Assistant Head Coach)
2006-07 Auburn (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers)
2008-10 Texas (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers)
2011-14 Florida (Head Coach)
2015 Auburn (Defensive Coordinator)

MUSCHAMP'S HEAD COACHING RECORD
2011 Florida: 7-6, 3-5 SEC; Gator Bowl
2012 Florida: 11-2, 7-1 SEC; Sugar Bowl
2013 Florida: 4-8, 3-5 SEC
2014 Florida: 6-5, 4-4 SEC; Birmingham Bowl*

*Did not coach


WILL MUSCHAMP QUOTES

Opening Statement
I'm really excited to be here, really excited to be a South Carolina Gamecock. Carol, I and the boys are thrilled to be your head football coach and lead this program. Coach [Steve] Spurrier has raised the expectation level here, and we're excited about meeting that challenge and that opportunity. We embrace everything as far as the expectations of winning championships here in Columbia, and that's going to happen.

I want to thank President Pastides for investing confidence in me to get the job done. There's no question that any organization has to have leadership at the top, and since 2008 he's done a phenomenal job at South Carolina. To be able to sit in his beautiful home last night with his wife Patricia and talk to them and see how down to earth they are and their genuine thoughts about the University of South Carolina and where this program is headed, I'm looking forward to that partnership moving forward. I want to thank Coach Tanner, obviously. It was a long process, I'll be honest with you. That was a long day. Charles Waddell, I'm looking forward to working with you. It was great to have dinner last night with Coach Tanner and his wife Karen and their three children Luke, Maggie, and Gracie. If you ever want to get some energy, go hang out with them for a little while. They fly around the table and they're a lot of fun.

We had a great time last night, and as we've started this process in talking to him and hearing his vision for the head coach at South Carolina, his vision for this program and where he sees it heading, it got me more and more excited. More than anything in the process that helped me was talking about him coming to South Carolina and his vision for the baseball program. I definitely see myself a little bit like Coach Tanner, a blue-collar guy who wants to outwork you, and a guy that has a tremendous vision for where we're going to head with this thing, and we're going to have a lot of fun doing it. Coach, I appreciate your support and investing the confidence in me to be here.

I can't go any further without thanking my wonderful wife, Carol. She is a great mom, and I love you. Gamecock Nation, if you don't think I can recruit, look at her and look at me. I can sell ice to an Eskimo. My two boys Jackson and Whit - I don't know where Jackson is right now he's probably working out somewhere - but two great kids that as a coach's family, and a coach's wife, you sacrifice a lot for the coach's career, and they've done that. I can't thank you guys enough for what you've done.

There's a great blend here. Anytime I meet with a student-athlete, I talk in terms of a great blend academically, athletically, socially, and spiritually for what you're looking for in a school, and I see that in South Carolina. I look at academically what we've done with our student-athletes and the Dodie Center. That's the best in the country, and the academic support we're going to have for the student-athletes and provide for them not just academically but for life. It's really important in the maturation process of these young men to continue to further their lives and launch their careers when football's over. The support from that center and the people within that center is outstanding.

The spiritual support gives them outlets for what they want to be able to accomplish, to make sure there's people they can talk to if they don't want to talk to Coach Muschamp, and socially the diverse campus we have that certainly President Pastides has pushed for. It's really exciting that a young man can come on this campus and to the city of Columbia and have a wonderful college experience. That's really important to me because it goes a lot further than Saturday afternoons. We're with them Sunday through Friday in the growing process of the future leaders of our country.

Then athletically, football's a developmental sport, so you have to develop. You start with the evaluation process in high school, and it's really important to evaluate the film. I was doing that late last night and into this morning for our next signing class. I was looking at those young men to see if they're the right fit, see if they're responsible enough to represent the University of South Carolina. Then we have to develop them on the field as well. I'll put our track record up against anybody as far as the development of players when you get them on campus because that's critical as well. Then it's about winning a championship. We're going to push the envelope towards winning championships consistently here in Columbia, and I look forward to doing that.

I met with the team last night and really asked them for three things that they would bring every day to work. The first is great energy in everything that you do. Whether it's academically, whether it's athletically, whatever you do in life, let's do it hard. Let's do it with great energy and great passion for what you're trying to do. I talked about great effort. If you do that, good things are going to happen for you eventually. Then obviously you have to have a positive attitude.

You look at the facilities here, and everything is on par for us to be very, very successful. Let's take advantage of the wonderful opportunities we have here.

I talked to team about how change is inevitable in life, and growth is optional. So grow with us and grow with what we're trying to do. We're going to assemble an outstanding staff. I'm going to address that as we move forward. The guys are going to do a great job representing this University in a first-class manner, and I think the players really warmed up to that. We want to be a blue-collar, over-achieving outfit. If we recruit good-enough players that buy into that work ethic, a lot of special things are going to happen for us. I certainly think that with the talent base in South Carolina we need to win the state back recruiting, that's the most important thing.

I'm going to answer some obvious questions. The first question will probably be about the offense. I think last year at Auburn was outstanding for me to work with Guz Malzahn. First of all, he's a first-class individual, a great person, and an outstanding football coach. Over the last 10 years offensively he's done as good of a job as anybody in the country. I was able to sit back and see how he administers some things. That's really the identity we want to have. We want to be on the ball; we want to be fast; and we want to be physical. We want to spread the field; we want to make them defend 53-1/3 yards wide and 120 yards down the field. I think our guys are really excited about that.

Defensively, my hands will be on a lot of it, and I think everywhere we've been the track record speaks for itself as far as the success we've had but that also goes back to the good players we've had so we need to get out on the road and recruit. I think we'll co-mingle based on front-wise and coverage-wise based on what we have. I'm not going to ask a player to do something he can't do. If a guy can't cover a bucket of water I'm not going to ask him to play man-to-man. You have to fit your system to what your guys can do.

We're going to be really aggressive on special team to be able to control the vertical field position in the game. We have an outstanding staff. I was able to meet with some of the guys last night to talk about what we're doing moving forward. I'm going to hire the best guys for us. That may take some time, and I'm not going to put a timetable on it because at the end of the day, you want the best fit for our young men.

It's our job as coaches to really service the players. If it wasn't for the players, we wouldn't have jobs. Within that, we have to hold them accountable so they become dependable as they grow and mature as young men, as athletes and as students.

I will probably get some questions about sideline demeanor. Coach Tanner and I have talked extensively about his expectations of the head coach of the University of South Carolina, and I'm certainly in accordance with everything he wants done. I am a passionate guy. I do have a competitive edge about me. I do coach with a lot of energy on the field, and I want our players to play with relentless effort and great energy and great passion. I have been coaching a long time, and I do know that the players generally take the personality of the coach. I want our guys playing with that type of competitive edge every time they go out, but also to represent South Carolina in a first-class manner. I'm going to be really excited running out of that tunnel of Williams-Brice when "2001" cranks up. I get goose bumps just thinking about it.

I'll probably get asked about what happened at Florida. I think it's great to reflect and gain perspective on what you did well because we did a lot of things very well. It didn't end the way I wanted it to. My first day on the job I sat with the President Dr. Bernie Machen in my office, and he said clean the place up. We did that. We left a program much better than we inherited. We graduated our players with the highest grade-point average in school history for consecutive semesters my last four semesters there, and we did things the right way. Anytime you are going to reflect and gain perspective on what has happened, you have to be willing to learn. There's nobody that's going to be more self-critical of themselves than myself as far as what we need to do to be successful.

About timeline of his hiring process
I believe it was last Thursday. Coach Tanner texted me asking if I wanted to talk, and we had a good conversation that morning. I immediately let Coach Malzahn know that South Carolina had contacted me, and we met a couple days after that. As Coach Tanner alluded to, we had a very deliberate meeting. It was a good meeting to get to know him and discuss the vision for the program on both sides. We agreed on a lot of things we needed to do.

On what sold him on South Carolina
I think number one the success Coach Spurrier had here. I knew about the facility improvements that were headed. As much as anything you meet with Coach Tanner, and you see that here's a guy that wants the best for the University of South Carolina. He's invested his life in the University of South Carolina, and when you see an investment like that, it motivates you as a coach. You understand that this guy is willing to do the things it takes to be successful, and I certainly want to be a part of that team. You do it all together.

On following Coach Spurrier
As I told the players change is inevitable and growth is optional. We're going to do things a certain way. But again, it's hard. There's only one Coach Spurrier, let's be honest. I'm going to be Will Muschamp, and that's what I need to be in this situation, and that's what I will do moving forward. I'm going to reach out to him because even though there's 80,000 people who can give me advice on Saturday, he's a guy that's been behind the chair and knows what it's like to be there. I certainly will cherish those opportunities to talk to him.

On his difference as a coach between now and time at Florida
Well, I've gained about 15 pounds. I didn't exercise very good this fall. I think as much as anything it's kind of like marriage. The first year there's a little adjustment, and that fifth year you're doing a little better. It's no different than being a father. The first couple things that pop up you look at and you're thinking you've got to be kidding me, I have to do this? Then you start moving forward, and you understand it a little bit more. It's no different than being a defensive coordinator. The first year you see that there's a lot to this. Then the game slows down for you a little bit. The more experience you have at it the more things you see.

PRESIDENT HARRIS PASTIDES

Opening statement
Welcome to a new era of University of South Carolina Gamecock football. Welcome to everybody. I see so many of you who are so important to us. Our trustees, members of our Gamecock Club, fan base, students, faculty and members of the media - I could not be more excited to be looking forward and be looking ahead to matching our great football program with the other success we are having at the university. After this weekend, with the men's and women's basketball victories, we are the only Division-I university with an undefeated men's and women's basketball team. Our facilities in athletics have very few peers. Our academics have improved vastly. We are a globally recognized university. We have great partners like Boeing and IBM, but let me save the best for last - the Gamecock fans have no rival, and I think Coach Will Muschamp is about to experience that himself very quickly. Coach Tanner will say a few words, of course, introducing Will and his family, who are here. I had an opportunity to meet them last evening and what a family they are. They were all meant to be Gamecocks. His wife Carol, his older son Jackson and his younger son Whit. Both Jackson and Whit were decked out in Gamecock attire when they came to the house last night. I don't know about all the criteria - I will let Ray [Tanner] talk to you about that, but I happen to like that the name Muschamp is spelled with U-S-C-Champ.

ATHLETICS DIRECTOR RAY TANNER

Opening statement
Good morning everyone and thank you for being here today for this exciting announcement. Please join me in remembering December 7, 1941, and every day the men and women of our armed forces that protect our country. I would like to take a few moments to thank people who helped me get to this point. Those of you who know me well know that I need a lot of help, so I am very grateful for our group of advisors who assisted me, Ken Wheat, one of our former football players, 1969 ACC Championship team, I.S. Leevy Johnson, who is an attorney and a community leader in Columbia, Chip Comer, who is the chairman of the Gamecock Club board of directors, Ms. Joan Gable, Executive VP of Academic Affairs and provost, Suzie Van Hulst, who is a former faculty advisor and the chairman of the board, Mr. Gene Ward, and lastly, our own #21, Marcus Lattimore. I would like to thank our board of trustees throughout this process, and of course Dr. Pastides [inaudible) have been a tremendous help. I would like to also thank the media members who are here today who cover our student-athletes at a level that I'm not sure any school in the country has the opportunity. Throughout this process, you professionalism has been exemplary, and I appreciate that. I would like to thank Lance Grantham, from our staff, who asked lots of questions and provided a lot of research, Charles Bloom, who has been with us every step of the way and has done a lot of research as well. Lastly, our deputy athletics director, Charles Waddell, who sat with me through long conversations, from day to day, and I am proud to tell you that there were a couple of occasions where we skipped a meal, and that is not like us.

I have been preparing for this coaching transition for quite some time. I was reminded from time to time that the search timetable didn't necessarily fit everybody on the Internet or our fan base. From the very beginning, I felt that we would be in a position by late last week or the first of this week to name a football coach at the University of South Carolina, and that has happened. While maybe there has been a little time to get to this point, the thing that was so important that the time that we spent would result in a football coach for a long, long time. During our meeting with the group of advisors, we had great conversations and, obviously, the word integrity stays at the top of the list on any talk that goes in any direction. I want to share some things that became very important to Charles and I as we went through this process. While everybody loves a great offense and running 90 to 100 plays at a time and scoring 48 points, and we would like that too, we also like defense, where somebody can stop it when the other team may be on the run. A lot of people can score points to day, but a lot of people can't stop teams from scoring. I don't think you would question what Coach Muschamp brings on the defensive side of the ball. I'll tell you, last night in our team meeting, he got the offense pretty excited about the opportunities we will have on that side going forward.

Just a couple of notes - while he was at the University of Florida as a coach, his defense was in the top 10 three of the four years he was there. You turn the conversation to recruiting, three times out of the four years at the University of Florida his recruiting class was in the top five. We want coaches around us with a tireless work ethic. That goes without saying. Yesterday morning I took a very relaxing flight over to pick Coach Muschamp and his family up. It was quite pleasant and quite beautiful. As he boarded the plane, he began to work. He took me past 10 o'clock last night. I know that, as I watched him juggle four or five things at a time, I am not capable of being on his staff. I asked Carol, "Is he like this all the time?" She said, "Yes, but he'll still lose his car keys and his identification." That was good to hear. Passion is second-to-none. We wanted somebody who can coach and teach - no question about that. Media-savvy, natural leader, relationship with players. Last night I was inundated with texts that I got from players he has coached in the past. (His) knowledge of Southeast and our footprint - unparalleled. You can't have a better coach in the country in that capacity. The academic priority - the excellence as a head coach at the University of Florida was apparent. We have a coach that fits so many great characteristics. A few days ago, Charles and I had the opportunity to visit with Coach Muschamp. We started out with a little dinner in the early evening and quickly that conversation lasted until the wee hours of the next morning. After sleeping for just a few hours I decided that everybody should be awake if I'm awake. I called Coach Muschamp and I said, "Are you awake?" He said, "Yes." I'm not sure he was but, I said, "How about coming back and visiting with me for a little while longer?" He's probably thinking, "That man is crazy." We visited for two more hours. There is no doubt in my mind that with his knowledge and expertise and his experience, he is the man most suited to lead our football program at the University of South Carolina. He will give us an opportunity to be at the top of the conference and be in the national conversation. I am delighted to be able to welcome Carol and Jackson and Whit, and by the way, both of those young men throw tight spirals. I saw that yesterday. As the president said, you spell Muschamp with and M---U-S-C-Champ. Is that an omen or what?

Please join me in welcoming our 34th head football coach at the University of South Carolina, Coach Will Muschamp.

On camaraderie among athletes
That is always a paramount discussion that we have at the university level with the board of trustees. While it is difficult many times, Coach Muschamp mentioned the academic center, the Dodie [Academic Enrichment Center], and that is where our training table is, that is where our academic community is for all of our student athletes and it has been tremendous for us and very successful. That is an area that our student athletes come together. It is difficult to get everything in that location that you want because we are landlocked to a certain extent, but that is always a discussion and I feel comfortable in telling you that, of our facilities, the Dodie is a special place where all sports are together for meals and study and camaraderie. That is a special environment for our student athletes.

On hiring Will Muschamp
I think you go back in time and, we are all fans, I assumed a role that I had to be more than a fan. If you watch people across the country, we all know about Coach Muschamp and his enthusiasm and desire, but he was very relational with his players, he had academic priorities, his experiences in the past - everybody says good things about him, from the presidential level to his student athletes. That was very important to me. I had a conversation with him a year ago, about this point, unrelated to being the head coach at the University of South Carolina, but it stuck. It stuck with me, just the conversation and the tone. I do think, being a former coach, there was a connection, there was a bond and I would like to say one thing - my wife told me this morning, "Don't talk too much." I have to be careful. But you talk about his past and winning 28 games at the University of Florida in his four years - many would say that is not acceptable or that is not good enough. There are two coaches right now in the College Football Playoff - one won 28 and one won less than 28. I coached for a long time. It is not a perfect scenario, but it is about the other things that count. Winning games, we all like, but the relationships that you have with your players and the impressions that you make upon them, you help them develop as young men - great athletes, if they can do it while they are playing for you. But there are a lot of things that are important and that is what Will Muschamp stands for.

On speaking with Steve Spurrier during the hiring process
I talked to Coach Spurrier periodically along the way. I actually spoke with him yesterday for a moment of two. I think it is very important. He has been in the game for a long time. Certain people have made an impact with him personally and as a coach. Certainly, Coach Muschamp was in that category so that was important to me to hear it from a person who has been in the game for a long, long time.

On the timetable of making a hire
I can be a little bit hard-headed. The fact that there were so many openings throughout the country this year and jobs were getting filled I was getting some pressure, but it did not effect me. I knew what the timetable was when we started. I knew the last weekend of the college football season was November 28. While we were doing some tremendous research and having a lot of conversations with athletics directors and coaches that may not be in the game, there was a respect level that you know where you are in this process and then there was a championship game last weekend. The timetable was perfect when we started and we got to the place that we needed to with the right man. Maybe Coach Muschamp and Charles Waddell will tell you that it was a little more thorough and extensive than it needed to be, but I felt good about it. Just like when coaches talk about you make an investment in a program, that's how I took this job. I wanted to be right. The time did not affect me. We got it right.

On the timetable of making a hire (President Pastides' answer)
Let me try that, too, because there were times when I revert to being a fan from being the president and I was getting anxious, too. Not so much any lack of trust or faith, but you are hearing it from the fans and we just want to get our coach and move on and turn the page, but every time I called [Tanner] he convinced me he was doing it the right way. He said, "President, I am looking for a coach for a decade or more. Can I take a few more hours?" I said, "Sure." He said, " I could make a decision sooner but we're talking not about a quick thing. Can I check the background? Can I call people? Can I have a long interview and maybe call someone back the following day? Would that be OK? Is that too much to ask?" And I said, "Not at all." So I am convinced that, although to the fans it took longer than some would have wanted, I think he took exactly the right amount of time.

And Coach, let me just say you have done great today, but your comment about your family and Carol was amazing. Let me say, to keep Ray and I happily married, Patricia and Karen are amazing wives, too.

On if volume of coaching vacancies impacted his search process
It really didn't. I don't know if it was confidence or arrogance, I can't tell you. Again, Charles Waddell was with me every moment. I was always concerned with what was right for the University of South Carolina. If there was a coach that went somewhere or jumped this or went to that place, he wasn't the right guy. I never became concerned with that. Having been in the game so long, I've been on the campus of a college that has a high level of athletics, you'll know when it's right. I didn't get concerned with the openings or the timetable.

On discussion with Coach Muschamp about sideline demeanor
We had a very serious, lengthy conversation. I get it. I have been there. It's not perfect. I was concerned that during our conversation I might have been a little bit too firm, but he understands. We're all coaches. We want everything that Coach Muschamp brings to this program and players with his passion and enthusiasm. I even like a little bit when you have to get on an official. When they throw a flag, that's a little bit too far. We talked about it excessively and he certainly understands where we are.

On his message to those who question the hiring decision
I would say that we got our man. We got a Gamecock. Buckle up your seatbelt and get on board. Here we go. If you want to be fast and furious, that's where we're going. As you know we have some very loyal, passionate Gamecocks, and they have been with us for a long time. They will be ready to go. I am confident of that.
 

 

 

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