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Paul Finebaum speaks up about how warm he thinks Will Muschamp’s seat should be

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Paul Finebaum speaks up about how warm he thinks Will Muschamp’s seat should be

May 14, 2019

The balance of Will Muschamp’s tenure at South Carolina has been by most measures more good than bad.

His first two seasons saw jumps of three wins, each outperforming preseason expectations. His third season saw a failure to meet lofty preseason expectations and didn’t meet internal standards (he’s said this several times).

Now his Gamecocks face likely the hardest schedule in the country next season. That confluence of event caught the attention of SEC Network analyst and host Paul Finebaum, who had some harsh words about the USC’s situation.

“The seat probably should be (hot), but I’m not sure it is,” Finebaum said The Roundtable on WJOX FM in Birmingham. “I say this only because I’ve talked to the president of South Carolina and the athletic director recently and they have just put up this stiff upper lip about Will Muschamp. I think it would take an absolute disaster of a season to unload him because they’re now blaming Spurrier for everything that has gone wrong in Will Muschamp’s tenure. Ray Tanner the other day said, ‘We all love coach Spurrier, but he didn’t leave the program, I’m paraphrasing, in great shape from a recruiting standpoint.’”

Spurrier left the team halfway through a 3-9 campaign and has said multiple times he left a bad situation behind. He did leave a few future NFL players like Deebo Samuel, Hayden Hurst, Chris Lammons and Taylor Stallworth, but the staff has worked with constant scarcity at the front and back ends of the defense.

It’s also worth noting, the expectations for 2018 were built partially on a softer schedule heavy on teams in transition. Two of those teams, Florida and Texas A&M, finished No. 7 and No. 17 respectively. Those projections had USC shaking off a losing streak against Kentucky, and instead the Wildcats made the jump to top-12 team.

Per Bill Connolly’s S&P+, the Gamecocks had the ninth-hardest schedule in the country.

Finebaum in turn invoked Georgia, a team coming off 19 wins in two seasons in the heart of one of the most talent-rich states in the country, and Kirby Smart as a comparison.

“I think that’s ridiculous at this point,” Finebaum said, speaking of the references to what Spurrier left. “We all know Muschamp and Kirby Smart have been at their program for the same exact time. One was left in better shape, but when you’re in Year 4, you really ought to just knock off on the excuses. I thought last year was certainly under-performing and the schedule this year is extremely difficult. … I don’t think he’s going to lose his job this year. I think South Carolina people are more setting it up for the next year if things go haywire.”

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“The seat probably should be (hot), but I’m not sure it is,” Finebaum said The Roundtable on WJOX FM in Birmingham. “I say this only because I’ve talked to the president of South Carolina and the athletic director recently and they have just put up this stiff upper lip about Will Muschamp. I think it would take an absolute disaster of a season to unload him because they’re now blaming Spurrier for everything that has gone wrong in Will Muschamp’s tenure. Ray Tanner the other day said, ‘We all love coach Spurrier, but he didn’t leave the program, I’m paraphrasing, in great shape from a recruiting standpoint.’”

Finebaum in turn invoked Georgia, a team coming off 19 wins in two seasons in the heart of one of the most talent-rich states in the country, and Kirby Smart as a comparison.

“I think that’s ridiculous at this point,” Finebaum said, speaking of the references to what Spurrier left. “We all know Muschamp and Kirby Smart have been at their program for the same exact time. One was left in better shape, but when you’re in Year 4, you really ought to just knock off on the excuses. I thought last year was certainly under-performing and the schedule this year is extremely difficult. … I don’t think he’s going to lose his job this year. I think South Carolina people are more setting it up for the next year if things go haywire.”

 

 

I disagree profoundly with several of things here that Finebaum states - most of which I have placed in bold.

First, he makes a comparison between Smart's time at UGA, and Muschamp's time at USC. Both coaching tenures start the same year, in 2016. But beyond that similarity, there is nothing else that really compares the two, and to do so as his basis of justification makes Finebaum look ill-informed.

Smart took over a UGA program that in 2015 went 10-3, and finished tied for 2nd in the East at 5-3. Muschamp took over a USC program that went 3-9 in 2015, and won only 1 SEC game. In 2014, UGA also went 10-3, and was alone at 2nd in the East, while USC went 7-6 and 3-5 in the SEC.

So to make a comparison between one program that goes 20-6 and 11-5 in conference, with a program that goes 10-16 and 4-12 in conference, and say that those are equal starting points for two coaches to work from, loses Finebaum credibility by the bucket load, IMO. Further, Richt brought in recruiting classes that were composite-ranked by 247 Sports as 12th in 2013, 8th in 2014, and 6th nationally in 2015, while Spurrier's staff brought in classes ranked 20th in '13, 19th in '14. and 20th again for 2015. So each head coach had a very different roster of talent to work with for their initial seasons in 2016.

And additionally, while Smart came into UGA as the heralded defensive coordinator of national championship teams at Alabama, Muschamp - although with head coaching experience that Smart did not have - came to South Carolina with question marks of his ability to manage the top job, after his stint at Florida.

And finally - on the part of comparing USC's FB program with UGA's - even under Richt, UGA was the predominant CFB program in the state of GA, with a long-running dominance over it's top in-state rival Georgia Tech, and with national and conference titles, it still is the proverbial King of the Mountain that is the state of Georgia. USC, on the other hand unfortunately, is wading through an era during these years Finebaum is referring to, that happens to be the golden years of its in-state rival Clemson's entire FB program's history. Further, the state of GA has risen in recent years to being in the top 4 states of the nation - along with Florida, Texas, and California - in producing top-quality division I CFB prep talent, while SC is still handicapped by it's low population density: we produce excellent prep talent in terms of per capita, but overall all that means is we're dwarfed in comparison by the prep talent produced in GA, and most all of them grow up wanting to be Georgia Bulldogs.

So all of this lends to the fact that Smart came into a better situation at UGA than what Muschamp came into at USC, and came into a program with better depth of talent than what Muschamp came into. In 2016, Smart's first recruiting class was ranked 6th, while Muschamp's was 25th. So for Finebaum to make the comparison between both programs as if both coaches started on level, equal ground was substantially unintelligent in my opinion.

Then Finebaum refers to the team under-performing, which it did, but he gives no reason for it under-performing, as in he makes no reference to all the injuries we had on defense last season. USC's offense had its best season yet under Coach Muschamp - set new highs for scoring, total, passing, and rushing offense per game in 2018. Yes it was inconsistent, but it has been every year under Muschamp. The big issue last season from start to finish was the struggles on defense, and hopefully we should see improvements on that end next season.

As to Coach Muschamp's administration overall, he surpassed Spurrier's record for most wins in a USC head coach's initial 3 years, as well as became the first USC HC to take the program to 3 bowl games in his first 3 years. For a head coach to be on the "hot seat" after that might not be the wisest thing for Coach Tanner, or any USC AD.....

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Unfortunately for many including many of our fans will be how Champ does in comparison to Kirby because some thought we had a legitimate shot at Kirby and should have gotten him.  I am not in that camp.  GA was always his dream job and they made the move to get him.  I don't agree with tying the two together as they are two very  different programs in terms of where they were when the coaches took over as well as program histories.  I do expect us to become competitive with them and win our share, I just hope our fan base has the patience to let things get going.  You can already see a huge difference in recruiting and the overall knowledge of our staff about prospects.  I think given the time Champ can right this thing a put a good team on the field.  It is encouraging to see us in the mix for so many high profile recruits. 

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19 hours ago, FeatheredCock said:

One was left in better shape, but when you’re in Year 4, you really ought to just knock off on the excuses.

Conway really appreciate your thoughts. AGREE with all you say. Just wondering what is your opinion of the above statement. Is 4 years time to stop excuses?

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14 minutes ago, Senior Rooster said:

Conway really appreciate your thoughts. AGREE with all you say. Just wondering what is your opinion of the above statement. Is 4 years time to stop excuses?

I know you addressed this to Conway and I agree with him as well.  I just wanted to say that I personally don't think they are excuses but facts of just how badly our program had fallen in Spurrier's final years.  I personally think 6 years is reasonable to build the kind of depth that you need to win in this league, but realistically think 7 is the majic number to build the proper momentum and start getting top-shelf recruits.  We hit a big one with this class in Pickens and as we saw when Gilmore committed back in the day it started the recruiting really rolling.  I think 4 is too short from where we came.  I think a 4 year window would require hitting on every recruit to perfection and let's face it he was hired late and his first year was just getting what he could to cobble together a class and getting what he could to fill that class, so I think year one was a wash from a recruiting standpoint.   Sorry did not mean to jump in. 

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FWIW it took Spurrier 5 years to get us to ATL and 6 years to get us those streaks of 11 wins. With that in mind as well as the current success our opponents have had, 4 years is a bit quick to be pulling any triggers or warming any seats in this thread's analogy. That is, of course unless we go out this season and completely shit the bed to the tune of a losing season. That would certainly stoke the flames under Muschamp's seat.

 

 

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On 5/15/2019 at 9:49 AM, Senior Rooster said:

Conway really appreciate your thoughts. AGREE with all you say. Just wondering what is your opinion of the above statement. Is 4 years time to stop excuses?

Four years into his regime, everything should be his responsibility as to how the program improves and competes, but that's not the end-all of everything. There's an awful lot that goes into building a successful college FB program these days. It still happens that some head coach comes along, takes a program that's low on the totem pole in wins and success and tradition and talent depth, that's in a major CFB conference, and that coach brings a playbook and a way of preparation and teaching that has that program rise up suddenly and become consistently successful in a major way. They tended to happen more often back in the '80s, '70s, and earlier.

But those scenarios are very few and far between these days, and are more of the roll-of-the-dice variety. The most proven way is to build programs up with solid and unrelenting recruiting, with sound and thorough coaching and development of players, and then - once ANY degrees of success is realized - work even harder to sell that success, and to build upon it as a foundation. And keep doing it, and see where it takes you.

It's been well hashed over and over how the Spurrier Regime came to an end: Spurrier and his staff built the Gamecock program up from ground level up. They recruited the in-state talent hard, and then evaluated other talent out of state that was not getting taken by their flagship programs hard, and built the roster. The program started having moderate success, and then the staff recruited harder until the elite in-state talent - and during this period we had quite a number of them - also came to play for us. The years of 2009 through 2013 the program probably had the best wealth of talent in it's history, but I'm not totally informed on that.

But those years, all Spurrier and staff had to sell them was, based on potential of what could be. Come to South Carolina and be the first to do this, to do that. The kids had to have that belief that things would happen if they came, without very much evidence to prove it would.

Then 2010 through 2013 happened: averaging 10 wins a year, finishing with 3 consecutive top 10 national rankings, being one single win shy from 2011 through 2013 of playing in the SECCG four years in a row, and participating in 1 to 3 BCS bowls. Being the winning-est Power 5 CFB program during those 4 years to NOT participate in a BCS bowl, with the most wins verses top-25 ranked opponents in those years: not ranked at the time we played them, but ranked in the final rankings, AFTER we beat them.

That kind of success was real - prospects didn't have to imagine it happening, or have blind faith that it would. No other Power 5 coaching staff would fail to take to the streets and sell that success for all they were worth, to go to 5-star and high 4-star elite talent and show than that, "come play for us, and you'd be the final piece to getting us that 1 win, and winning the division, then the conference, then the BCS bowl, then....who knows?" And it would be based on actual truth and evidence of truth.

But our staff didn't do that. Spurrier was ready to use that success to ride off into the sunset. And the program would never capitalize on that success.

When you have a nationally recognized major college program that has national titles, conference titles, major bowls, and just decades of great success behind it, that's called history. A program like UGA has that kind of history, and as I've said the boys in GA who grow up playing organized football grow up to be Georgia Bulldogs. It's a powerful resource that's always there for ANY UGA HC. Same with Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Mischigan, Southern Cal, Texas, etc. Being the head coach of those programs isn't hard when you have those resources - it's hard to meet the great expectations the fanbase places on you, but you'll always have great tradition, and great talent to work from right off the bat. If you screw it up, then the reasons are usually because YOU personally screwed it up.

But we don't have that at USC. It doesn't mean we can't have it, we just haven't got there yet. We have done some great things in recent years to raise expectations, but as I posted above, we didn't work hard to sustain it. Spurrier allowed it to fall back down to the ground.

So, without that built in tradition and history of success, when Spurrier left and the wins stopped coming, everyone naturally thinks it's because of Steve Spurrier, in, "once Spurrier leaves, the winning leaves with him". NOT because he allowed the program to fall. So that's not a "tradition", that's an "anomaly". Muschamp now has to rebuild the whole thing all over again, but what happens this year and next year in recruiting is affected by what happened on the field last season, and in 2017, and 2016, etc. And what happened those years were greatly affected by what happened in 2015, 2014, and 2013 in recruiting by the previous staff.

Nick Saban's first year at Alabama in 2007 went 6-6 in the regular season. Like Spurrier, Saban had won one single national title elsewhere, and won a whole lot less conference titles and games. He brought in the 12th-ranked recruiting class his first year, not too shabby. His predecessor before him, Mike Shula, brought in the 13th ranked class for 2006, and the 16th ranked class for 2005. Saban wins their bowl game and finished 7-6, and his staff went to work. In 2008 they bring in the 3rd-ranked class, and then ruled over recruiting nationally ever since then. THAT's what tradition can do for a coach - the program essentially recruits itself, but if you also want to go beyond carrying your fair share and work hard at it, your classes will be great. Saban also proved to be a great coach himself, and a coach that understands and appreciates the merits of hard recruiting work, and selling what successes your program has, and how great prospects can make the success even greater. Muschamp doesn't have that kind of resource to capitalize on, although he could've had some of it had the previous staff didn't choose to ride the program into the sunset.

So, again in reference to what Finebaum was saying that I disagree with. With CFB programs like South Carolina's, it's not a quick fix, and it DOES require some foundation to build off of, to have great success. Smart had a great foundation - great resources of tradition of success, a talented roster, and a state full of elite prep talent that's waiting to come play for you. Muschamp has had much less of all the above, and has to generate those resources a good bit by himself and by his own staff. Someone (Finebaum) can't just dismiss all that, and claim to be an "expert" on CFB matters.....

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On 5/16/2019 at 6:58 PM, ConwayGamecock said:

Four years into his regime, everything should be his responsibility as to how the program improves and competes, but that's not the end-all of everything. There's an awful lot that goes into building a successful college FB program these days. It still happens that some head coach comes along, takes a program that's low on the totem pole in wins and success and tradition and talent depth, that's in a major CFB conference, and that coach brings a playbook and a way of preparation and teaching that has that program rise up suddenly and become consistently successful in a major way. They tended to happen more often back in the '80s, '70s, and earlier.

But those scenarios are very few and far between these days, and are more of the roll-of-the-dice variety. The most proven way is to build programs up with solid and unrelenting recruiting, with sound and thorough coaching and development of players, and then - once ANY degrees of success is realized - work even harder to sell that success, and to build upon it as a foundation. And keep doing it, and see where it takes you.

It's been well hashed over and over how the Spurrier Regime came to an end: Spurrier and his staff built the Gamecock program up from ground level up. They recruited the in-state talent hard, and then evaluated other talent out of state that was not getting taken by their flagship programs hard, and built the roster. The program started having moderate success, and then the staff recruited harder until the elite in-state talent - and during this period we had quite a number of them - also came to play for us. The years of 2009 through 2013 the program probably had the best wealth of talent in it's history, but I'm not totally informed on that.

But those years, all Spurrier and staff had to sell them was, based on potential of what could be. Come to South Carolina and be the first to do this, to do that. The kids had to have that belief that things would happen if they came, without very much evidence to prove it would.

Then 2010 through 2013 happened: averaging 10 wins a year, finishing with 3 consecutive top 10 national rankings, being one single win shy from 2011 through 2013 of playing in the SECCG four years in a row, and participating in 1 to 3 BCS bowls. Being the winning-est Power 5 CFB program during those 4 years to NOT participate in a BCS bowl, with the most wins verses top-25 ranked opponents in those years: not ranked at the time we played them, but ranked in the final rankings, AFTER we beat them.

That kind of success was real - prospects didn't have to imagine it happening, or have blind faith that it would. No other Power 5 coaching staff would fail to take to the streets and sell that success for all they were worth, to go to 5-star and high 4-star elite talent and show than that, "come play for us, and you'd be the final piece to getting us that 1 win, and winning the division, then the conference, then the BCS bowl, then....who knows?" And it would be based on actual truth and evidence of truth.

But our staff didn't do that. Spurrier was ready to use that success to ride off into the sunset. And the program would never capitalize on that success.

When you have a nationally recognized major college program that has national titles, conference titles, major bowls, and just decades of great success behind it, that's called history. A program like UGA has that kind of history, and as I've said the boys in GA who grow up playing organized football grow up to be Georgia Bulldogs. It's a powerful resource that's always there for ANY UGA HC. Same with Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Mischigan, Southern Cal, Texas, etc. Being the head coach of those programs isn't hard when you have those resources - it's hard to meet the great expectations the fanbase places on you, but you'll always have great tradition, and great talent to work from right off the bat. If you screw it up, then the reasons are usually because YOU personally screwed it up.

But we don't have that at USC. It doesn't mean we can't have it, we just haven't got there yet. We have done some great things in recent years to raise expectations, but as I posted above, we didn't work hard to sustain it. Spurrier allowed it to fall back down to the ground.

So, without that built in tradition and history of success, when Spurrier left and the wins stopped coming, everyone naturally thinks it's because of Steve Spurrier, in, "once Spurrier leaves, the winning leaves with him". NOT because he allowed the program to fall. So that's not a "tradition", that's an "anomaly". Muschamp now has to rebuild the whole thing all over again, but what happens this year and next year in recruiting is affected by what happened on the field last season, and in 2017, and 2016, etc. And what happened those years were greatly affected by what happened in 2015, 2014, and 2013 in recruiting by the previous staff.

Nick Saban's first year at Alabama in 2007 went 6-6 in the regular season. Like Spurrier, Saban had won one single national title elsewhere, and won a whole lot less conference titles and games. He brought in the 12th-ranked recruiting class his first year, not too shabby. His predecessor before him, Mike Shula, brought in the 13th ranked class for 2006, and the 16th ranked class for 2005. Saban wins their bowl game and finished 7-6, and his staff went to work. In 2008 they bring in the 3rd-ranked class, and then ruled over recruiting nationally ever since then. THAT's what tradition can do for a coach - the program essentially recruits itself, but if you also want to go beyond carrying your fair share and work hard at it, your classes will be great. Saban also proved to be a great coach himself, and a coach that understands and appreciates the merits of hard recruiting work, and selling what successes your program has, and how great prospects can make the success even greater. Muschamp doesn't have that kind of resource to capitalize on, although he could've had some of it had the previous staff didn't choose to ride the program into the sunset.

So, again in reference to what Finebaum was saying that I disagree with. With CFB programs like South Carolina's, it's not a quick fix, and it DOES require some foundation to build off of, to have great success. Smart had a great foundation - great resources of tradition of success, a talented roster, and a state full of elite prep talent that's waiting to come play for you. Muschamp has had much less of all the above, and has to generate those resources a good bit by himself and by his own staff. Someone (Finebaum) can't just dismiss all that, and claim to be an "expert" on CFB matters.....

This was an outstanding post!  It was well thought out, and well said.  The only thing not stated in this thread, that really needs to be addressed, is that Paul Finebaum looks and acts like a phallus!

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