The hiring of Will Muschamp signaled a new era of South Carolina football on Monday.
With the new coach comes new expectations — high ones at that.
South Carolina president Harris Pastides believes the Gamecocks — coming off a 3-9 campaign in 2015 — are capable of being legitimate contenders as early as 2016 in Muschamp’s inaugural season with the team, according to The State’s Andrew Shain.
“So is it where we want to be today? No,” Pastides said after South Carolina’s press conference Monday. “But I’m not buying into a three or five-year turnaround. I want to be back to success next season.”
As far as what Pastides believes the team is capable of doing next season, he said:
“Competing for the SEC Eastern (division) championship. I think that’s got to be the proximal goal. Anything less than that, to me, wouldn’t feel right as a fan. I think given the state of the SEC East without necessarily a consistent, dominant team over the last few years, I think that’s within sight. Coach is going to tell us what his goals are. I’m talking more as a fan about it.”
South Carolina went 3-9 overall and 1-7 against the SEC this season under coach Steve Spurrier and interim coach Shawn Elliott, which was good for last place in the SEC East and in the conference as a whole.
This season, the Gamecocks will not participate in a bowl game for the first time since 2007 and only the second time since Spurrier became the coach.
Between the 2014 and 2015 seasons, South Carolina had an aggregate record of 10-15. Prior to that, the Gamecocks had a .500 record or better every season since 2005 when Spurrier became the coach.
In 2010, South Carolina made it to the SEC championship. The Gamecocks followed that with 11-win campaigns in 2011, 2012 and 2013. South Carolina finished No. 9, No. 8 and No. 4, respectively, in the final AP Poll those years.