COLUMBIA, S.C. – One week away from coaching his first game at South Carolina, Will Muschamp says he has only addressed the 3-9 season that preceded his hiring once.
Speaking on his weekly radio show Wednesday, the Gamecocks head coach said his lone discussion with his players about the 2015 campaign was to say things had to change.
“The only time I’ve really even addressed 3-9 is I told them obviously whatever you did from a work and from a culture standpoint didn’t work,” Muschamp said. “It’s kinda like the guy that has the heart attack. He goes and has the heart surgery and he’s headed home and he asks his wife to pull over and pick up some cigarettes and a bottle of liquor. He’s probably going to have another heart attack, more than likely.
“You have to change your work habits. You have to change what you’re doing. You have to change in your life and understand sometimes change is really good.”
The message was well-received as Muschamp said 99 percent of the players were willing to change and move forward from the season that saw longtime coach Steve Spurrier quit amid the struggles.
“They guys have been very welcome to change and what we are trying to do to be successful,” Muschamp said. “I think that’s important. That’s the only time I’ve really even addressed 3-9. We need to move on. It’s a new era. It’s a new time. It’s a new day. It’s a new football team.
“Every year is different, regardless if you won the national championship the year before and you’re moving to the next season. It’s a new day.”
Knott coming along
Muschamp is plenty pleased with his offensive line with Cory Helms at the center position and he sounded optimistic about senior Alan Knott’s contributions to the team. The Gamecocks coach said Knott “will be fine” after being limited during some of preseason camp due a spring hand injury.
“Alan has been slowed a little bit with the wrist and the hand and it’s affected a little bit of the snapping,” Muschamp said. “He certainly has improved as we have continued to move forward.”
Knott has been working at guard primarily during fall camp.
Talking about goals
Muschamp has not shied away from saying his hopes are to win now, which he again expressed Wednesday when a caller asked him about his goals.
Facing what is widely perceived to be a challenging rebuilding job, Muschamp said again his mentality is about present success.
“Whether that’s in recruiting, whether it’s dealing with our football team, whatever it is, it’s about winning now,” he said. “Obviously, you’re always building for the future, regardless of if you’re in your first year or your tenth year as a coach at the place. I have a win-now mentality as far as our goals are concerned. We talk in terms of winning the SEC East and winning our state. Those will always be our goals as long as I’m here.”
Muschamp also praised his senior class at South Carolina for making the transition smooth.
Easy sales pitch
The momentum has continued to grow on the recruiting trail for South Carolina, with its two most high-profile commits – defensive back Hamsah Nasirildeen and defensive end MJ Webb – as its two most recent commitments.
Much of that is a credit to the noted strong recruiting of Muschamp and the staff he has assembled, but he also pointed to having an easy sell between the University of South Carolina, Columbia as a place to live and the life offered to a student-athlete.
“There’s a lot of positives going on at the University of South Carolina right now, whether it’s academically or athletically,” Muschamp said. “The arrows are pointing up as far as that is concerned. We have hired an outstanding staff. We’ve hired guys that get it in recruiting. They understand the lifeblood of your program and developing the relationships. …
“Recruiting comes back to building relationships and working. That’s something that I feel like I do very well and the guys I’ve hired do very well.”
With a question specifically asked about recruiting in the state of South Carolina, specifically in the upstate area, Muschamp credited running backs coach Bobby Bentley. Bentley won multiple state championships at Byrnes High School in Duncan, S.C.
“Hiring a guy like Bobby Bentley certainly has helped us in the upstate,” Muschamp said. “The respect and trust that high school coaches and people within that community have for him and for them to understand what we are about a little bit more.”
Mike Wilson covers South Carolina athletics for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on the Gamecocks.