He hasn't even been in place for a month, but Will Muschamp is already making waves in the South Carolina football offices. From hiring a staff, to boosting the program's recruiting efforts, to making sure the players that are already committed stay committed, Muschamp appears to have started things on the right foot.
Will that automatically translate into wins? That remains to be seen.
Let me be clear to start: I don't really consider myself a big Will Muschamp fan. His coaching style, marked by his infamous tirades against referees, players and everything that moves (basically) have been a turnoff to me - personally. Steve Spurrier got after his players all the time, but not to the extent Muschamp did. His point got across, though.
But, as I alluded to above, Muschamp's certainly made the right moves so far. He hired Travaris Robinson as his defensive coordinator, an up-and-comer that was on staff with him at Auburn as the DB coach and has been regarded as one of the top recruiters in the country. He was able to lure Bryan Edwards back to South Carolina after the in-state WR de-committed in the midst of the season while keeping running back C.J. Freeman in the fold. Add JUCO star defender and former Auburn pledge Jamarcus King to that list as well.
So far, so good.
Here's where it gets interesting: How will the team adjust to the new style of play that Muschamp and his staff will install? He and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper plan to put into place a hurry-up, no-huddle offense similar to the one they ran at Florida. That obviously means that a different style of player will need to be recruited by the staff, but the guys that are in place right now will need to get used to a departure from the shotgun-heavy, spread-type formations Spurrier used. Defensively, with Whammy Ward out and the one-year Jon Hoke experiment over, it's a clean slate for Robinson as he brings his own skill set and knowledge to the table. Again, he'll be working on getting his guys in over the next several years to run the 3-4/4-3 defense he - with his boss's help - is likely to incorporate in Columbia.
The overarching theme that ties all of this together is whether or not Muschamp has learned from his mistakes in Gainesville. After taking the helm from Urban Meyer before the 2011 season, Muschamp went 7-6 before storming to an 11-2 record in 2012. Of course, he was never able to maintain that momentum and ended up losing his job. What has he taken from that experience? Sure, he had a tough act to follow after replacing a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest coaches in the country today not named Nick Saban, but many of his wounds were self-inflicted. The good news, as it relates to the Gamecocks (if there is any) is that the expectations he faces right now aren't even in the same ballpark as the ones he faced as Meyer's successor a half-decade prior.
So what can we expect from year one of the Will Muschamp era? It might be out of the question to expect an SEC title, let alone a division title. Six wins and a bowl appearance would be a good start and miles ahead of where this program is right now. But if Muschamp can bring the right players in, actually develop them, and show that his failed tenure at Florida is behind him, there's no reason to think that the Gamecocks can't at least get close to the heights they enjoyed from 2011 to 2013.