Some quick, barely researched, not fully-formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 34-14 loss to Missouri.
Hello darkness. Well, here we are again. It’s only been three weeks, but we’ve once again seen a Gamecock performance so bad that we’re digging up buyout numbers on Will Muschamp. A record-setting performance against Charleston Southern (lol) and a respectable showing against Alabama pulled us back from the ledge after the season opening debacle against UNC. We once again had some hope that the team might be a little bit better than we thought, and they had a chance to prove it against a Missouri team that we should, at minimum, be on equal footing with.
But once again, a Muschamp-coached team – a team “desperate” for a win according to Dakereon Joyner – looked completely lost from the opening bell.
The defense propped us up for most of the game until they crumbled under weight of Missouri’s time of possession dominance. The offensive game plan looked like the incoherent rambling of an insane man. We had exceptionally dumb penalties by young guys (R.J. Roderick) and veteran guys (T.J. Brunson) alike. We looked ill-prepared, poorly coached and completely outclassed. And the final score reflected it.
Two guys stood out by busting their asses to the final bell – Bryan Edwards and Javon Kinlaw. Both seniors. Both guys I don’t know what the hell we’re going to do without. Because despite all the talent we seem to have accumulated in our recent recruiting classes, I just don’t know if we have anyone on the sidelines who can mold them into a competent football team.
3 and out. Friday afternoon word started to leak that on-the-cusp-of-freshman-sensation Ryan Hilinski had an injured right elbow. That was bad news, obviously. As we crept into Saturday we found out Hilinski was with the team, was going to “give it a go”, was dressed out, and then was going to start. There was never any official word from the team that I’m aware of. Good news, right?
Wrong. Hilinski was a shell of what we had seen the previous two weeks. The accuracy we had come to expect through two whole games was completely gone. He missed receivers in every direction – high, low, left right – his bad passes did not discriminate.
Immediately we attributed it to the mysterious injury that we’d all heard about but were never officially told about. After the game, Will Muschamp told Todd Ellis something along the lines of “if he was hurt I wouldn’t have played him”. Okeydoke then.
Where there’s smoke there’s fire. And if Will Muschamp was honest with us instead of trying to be some dollar store Bill Belichik the fan base would be much more appreciative. How about a simple “he’s got an elbow but has been cleared to play and we think he’s out best option.” Instead, the further down the toilet this program goes, the more surly Muschamp gets. His circling of the wagons is alienating the fan base at a time when he should be communicating more, not less.
Speaking of Hilinski, and I realize it’s only been three weeks, but I worry about the kid. He took a beating last week, and then took another one yesterday, particularly later in the game. He was in obvious discomfort most of the day, yet the staff kept trotting him out there, finally waving the white flag and giving Dak Joyner a chance with about three and a half minutes left in the game.
It was another stubborn decision by a stubborn man, and it’s getting oh so tiring.
The buyout. When it comes to Muschamp’s buyout, somewhere between $18mm and $22MM apparently, there are a lot of folks saying “it ain’t gonna happen” because it’s too rich for our blood.
I’m not so sure of that. We’ve been pretty lucky with coaches leaving in that we haven’t had any extravagant buyouts recently. Is that a heck of a lot of money? Sure it is. But what’s the cost of letting this program continue to slide into the abyss while fans don’t come to game in droves and stop buying apparel and stop supporting the program in general.
The bigger question may be what to do with Ray Tanner. Tanner will probably hit us with another “vote of confidence” this week because he’s the guy who had to hire his third choice and make it look like it was his first choice. Many of your expressed on Twitter yesterday extreme displeasure with the job Tanner has done, and I’m right there with you. In case you missed it, I wrote this after the UNC game:
Ray Tanner was a hall of fame baseball coach who wanted to be an administrator, and we rewarded him with a job he’s unqualified for because he won a lot of baseball games. Now the football program is paying for it. Other programs may follow.
If this season continues to spiral out of control, trying to figure out the buyout situation will become of utmost importance. Because $18-20mm dollars will be lost in short order through season ticket cancellations, fewer donations, less merchandise bought, etc. The cost of getting rid of Will Muschamp will be high and painful, but what will be the long-term cost of keeping Will Muschamp?
And of even greater importance, is the guy who hired and extended Will Muschamp really the guy we want negotiating a buyout and hiring the next head coach at USC?
WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE RECRUITS. Somebody had the nerve to tweet to me that we shouldn’t fire Will Muschamp because of the recruiting classes he’s about to bring in. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. What good does a top 20 recruiting class do if you don’t have a staff that can develop talent and put winning game plans in place?
Just for giggles, Carolina’s last four recruiting classes were ranked 20, 25, 21 and 18 by 247 Sports. Missouri’s last four classes were ranked 25, 43, 43 and 43. Kentucky’s last four classes were ranked 38, 34, 30 and 37. Make your own conclusions.
But. With all that said, the odds are still high Muschamp will be our coach in 2020. And as much as I don’t think he’s our guy sitting here today, I’ll be pulling like hell for him to win every game.
Headline news. After yesterday’s abomination, waking up this morning we certainly didn’t need this:
It was an extremely unfortunate gaffe by The State, a newspaper that has drawn the ire of Gamecock fans literally for decades. To their credit, they offered a quick apology (not quick enough for most) and explanation (not acceptable for most), and stated they reached out to the Hilinski family (which many questioned).
For the record, I haven’t lived in Columbia since 1992 and simply don’t have the history with The State that many of you do. I don’t think there’s some conspiracy within the paper to make our university or its sports teams look bad.
They made a huge mistake, mostly due to a clunky and inefficient editorial process that has people writing headlines without a real tie to the story. Personally I’m ready to move on. It sucks but I don’t need some virtual pound of flesh to make it right.
What’s next. Kentucky is next, and foolish me woke up this morning feeling like we’re going to win that game. We need a healthy Ryan Hilinski to do it, or we need a staff that’s honest with its fans to tell us he is indeed hurting, and Dakereon Joyner taking first team reps in practice this week. We also need fannies in seats, and I’m confident we’ll have a lot of them.
While I breathe I hope.