It appears that Eric Wolford will in all likelihood be named the new head coach at Youngstown State over the next couple of days. Multiple reliable outlets are reporting that this is done deal, and since it all makes sense to me, I'm going to choose to believe it. I say thanks to Coach Wolford for his time in Columbia and wish him luck. I would have loved to see him stick around and help us get to the next level, but I can't blame him for wanting a head coaching job close to home.
The two questions we now face are who our next line coach will be and how this will affect recruiting. As far as our next line coach goes, I expect you'll see us make another push for Vanderbilt's Robbie Caldwell. Caldwell--as we know--is one of the best line coaches around. He's a guy that consistently has good lines at Vanderbilt despite having to play with very few athletes that elite SEC schools would ever consider giving scholarships to. Caldwell, though, has close ties to Vandy coach Bobby Johnson. He's rebuffed us before, so we're going to have to do some convincing to get him to Columbia. I hope we make a strong push for him, but if we can't get him, I'm confident that Coach Spurrier will get us a good line coach, just like he did last year.
Recruiting, on the other hand, I'm a little worried about. Coach Wolford has been instrumental in getting verbal commitments from several high-profile prep linemen this year. Our coaching staff now faces the challenge of convincing these guys to stay with their verbals. For those that are truly committed to the program, that shouldn't be a huge problem. For others that had developed bonds with Coach Wolford, though, it might not be so easy. I'm especially worried about the highly touted Eric Mack, who has been a little equivocal about his commitment to us. You can bet opposing coaches will be in Mack's ear as quickly as possible trying to get him to back off his commitment. Hopefully our losing Wolford won't prompt Mack to reopen his recruitment. Marcus Lattimore is also now more of a question mark. My thinking before this was that Lattimore--even if he waited until National Signing Day to make it official--was 100% Gamecock. Now, though, I'm not so sure. Lattimore apparently had a good relationship with Wolford and liked his fit with Wolford's offensive philosophy. The good thing we still have going for us with Lattimore, of course, is that he's a born and bred Carolina guy and has several friends who are also planning on playing ball for us. That might not matter, though, is an elite program gets in his ear and makes a strong case.
In the end, we're going to need to make a good hire quickly, and that new coach is going to have to talk to these players and make them believe that he and Carolina are right for them. If we can do that, we can get out of this unscathed. If we drag our feet on the hire or make a poor choice, things could get ugly in what is a key recruiting year.