South Carolina welcomed Will Muschamp as the football team’s 34th head coach at an introductory press conference Monday morning.
Muschamp signed a 5-year, $16 million deal to replace longtime coach Steve Spurrier.
“Coach Spurrier raised expectations here and we are going to embrace that,” Muschamp said, wearing a black suit and Gamecocks’ garnet colored tie.
South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner reached out to Muschamp on Dec. 3. After receiving the call, Muschamp immediately notified Auburn coach Gus Malzahn he planned on interviewing for the position.
Other schools with head coaching vacancies reached out to Muschamp, but the 44 year old didn’t pursue any of those potential opportunities.
Muschamp and Tanner had multiple meetings leading to an official contract offer Sunday morning.
Tanner denied offering the position to Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez calling a tweet by the school’s athletic director “inaccurate.” He touted Muschamp’s long history of defensive success, his recruiting ability and passion as key factors in identifying the former Florida coach as a top candidate.
“He’s the man most suited to lead South Carolina,” Tanner said.
During Muschamp's four-year tenure in Florida, his defenses consistently ranked in the top 10, but he failed to find the right combination on offense.
It was an issue he addressed right in his opening remarks.
Muschamp said his time at Auburn learning from coach Gus Malzahn this year will help him address those shortcomings.
“I think last year at Auburn was outstanding for me to work with Gus Malzahn,” Muschamp said. “First of all, he’s a first-class individual, a great person and an outstanding football coach. Probably the last 10 years offensively has done as good a job as anybody in the country. For me to sit back and see how he administered some things and that’s really identity wise what we want to be. We want to be on the ball, we want to be fast and we want to be physical.”
Most of Muschamp’s focus at the press conference was spent looking ahead, but he did admit to a few regrets over his brief second stint at Auburn.
“I regret a 6-6 season,” Muschamp said.
He also sympathized with the Tigers’ defensive players having to deal with yet another coaching change. It will be the group’s third defensive coordinator in four years and the program’s seventh in the last decade.
“I hate the fact those kids got to go through a change again at defensive coordinator,” Muschamp said.
Despite the turnover, Muschamp is hopeful Auburn’s defense can build on the success it had at the end of the regular season.
“I believe there’s a lot of success to be had,” Muschamp said. “It is difficult? It certainly is.”
Muschamp declined to address reports that Auburn assistants Travaris Robinson and Bobby Bentley will be joining him at South Carolina.
“Don’t believe everything you read,” Muschamp said with a smirk.
The coach hopes to finalize his coaching staff soon and will make official announcements on individual positions as he fills them.