As the summer months arrive Will Muschamp seems to raise football expectations at South Carolina and put the Gamecocks in position for improvement in the 2017 season.
Muschamp, whose struggles at Florida were well-chronicled, guided South Carolina to a 6-6 regular season in 2016 and got the Gamecocks a bowl game a year after a 3-9 season. The Gamecocks lost in overtime in the Birmingham Bowl to South Florida, a team that finished 11-2.
But an improved record isn’t the only thing that should excite South Carolina fans. Muschamp found a quarterback in Jake Bentley, who enters his sophomore season, and brought in a solid recruiting class. South Carolina was No. 21 in the nation in the 2017 recruiting cycle.
The Gamecocks did see Brandon McIlwain transfer, but given Bentley’s solid play they should be just fine. Plus, linebacker Skai Moore returns after missing the 2016 season with a neck injury.
Bentley and the South Carolina offense drew rave reviews for their spring game performance. Some observers, such as Greg McElroy, have said that Bentley is even better than Georgia golden boy Jacob Eason.
The Gamecocks looked to be in trouble when Moore and wide receiver Deebo Samuel were named in a police incident report from a fight at a bar. However, both men were cleared in the case. Muschamp was not happy with the treatment of his players.
As for what fans think of Muschamp, he has fared well in the SEC Country approval rating poll. In the poll’s third installment, Muschamp stood at 84.7 percent, good for sixth among SEC coaches. That’s ahead of both Kirby Smart of Georgia and Missouri’s Barry Odom, who will also be entering their second seasons as head coach. Smart’s Bulldogs went 8-5 in 2016. Odom’s Tigers missed a bowl game and went 4-8.
Muschamp reportedly was paid $3 million in 2016. The Gamecocks open the 2017 season on Sept. 2 against North Carolina State in Charlotte, N.C.
Vote on Will Muschamp’s approval rating
The SEC Country approval rating poll is designed to give an indication of fan happiness over a period of time.
Our formula is based on the percentage of respondents that select each answer. We multiply that percentage by the following factors: 1 (strongly approve), 0.67 (approve), 0.33 (disapprove) and 0.0 (strongly disapprove). In other words, if 50 percent of respondents select “strongly approve” and 50 percent select “approve,” the formula would be (50 x 1) + (50 x 0.67) = 83.5% approval rating.