Yesterday, Brandon McIlwain made the decision to transfer out of South Carolina and continue his career elsewhere. McIlwain will have a chance to carry on playing football and showcase his baseball skills at another college (JUCO’s an option if he elects to focus solely on baseball - he’ll be draft eligible this summer if that’s the case).
I was hoping that McIlwain would pan out. And I honestly thought he would. But he never really looked comfortable in the pocket and didn’t really adjust to the college game like I thought. Enter Jake Bentley, and in retrospect, that pretty much saw the writing being placed on the wall as far as BMac was concerned.
As you might imagine, the #HOTSPROTSTAEKS were flowing last night on #GamecockTwitter (and on #GABAFacebook).
Let me say, it wasn't Muschamp at all. It's The Gamecocks back round and those boosters. The boosters don't won't be black qb.— Jacob Gathers (@brojg1) March 1, 2017
@sportstalksc So Mcilwain is promised the moon to turn down top 10 draft pick money and screwed royally by coot staff. Good luck Muschump...— Allen Black (@guitar_picker55) March 2, 2017
*The last tweet is actually a Clemson fan resorting to the tried-and-true, completely unoriginal “Muschump” line, but I included it because why not.*
As a public service to our readers, I thought I’d dispel a few...notions that might be floating around in the wake of the McIlwain news.
Myth #1: The only reason Jake Bentley started over Brandon McIlwain is because Bentley’s dad is a member of the coaching staff.
I’ll be the first to admit that, yes, maybe Will Muschamp hired Bobby Bentley to get an edge over other schools to get Jake here. (It’s not the first - or last - time something like that will happen in college football.) But to throw out the line that Bentley was the starting quarterback because his dad’s a member of the staff is ignoring the fact that Jake Bentley was simply a better quarterback than Brandon McIlwain. Was Bentley perfect? Nope. Can McIlwain become a great football (or baseball) player down the road? Sure. But it wasn’t likely that both of them were going to be a part of this team long-term anyway - and the signs were pointing to McIlwain seeking opportunities elsewhere whether it was primarily on the diamond or on the football field. Side note: Of course Lena McIlwain’s going to think her son is the better of the two quarterbacks. But it doesn’t mean that nepotism is ruling the day in the football office.
Myth #2: Brandon McIlwain didn’t get a fair shake because of his race.
This ties into myth #1, but let’s break it down a bit. A head coach who performed poorly at his first stop gets a gig at another school a couple of years after being fired. He then decides to put his reputation on the line (and risks getting blacklisted by the coaching community) by starting a player (specifically, at quarterback) over another simply based on skin color - never mind the fact that he’s not the best option at the time. That’s a lazy argument, and whoever frames McIlwain’s departure in that light lacks critical thinking skills. I won’t spend that much time expanding on this point because anyone with half a brain knows it’s not true and is simply stirring things up to push their own misguided agenda. By the way, spare me this line about the boosters not wanting a black player starting at quarterback at the University of South Carolina. As long as the program’s winning on a consistent basis (read: making money), the team could be full of orange-skinned Oompa Loompas and they wouldn’t raise the least of a stink.
Here’s a bit of news: Transfers happen everywhere. Sometimes they don’t happen at your school, and sometimes they do. Sometimes they come in large numbers, and sometimes they come in small numbers. (By my count, McIlwain is the fourth player to transfer from the program. Georgia Tech has seen eight transfers!) Attrition happens in every sport, everywhere, and South Carolina’s no different.
As I mentioned above, there’s the opportunity that Brandon McIlwain can become a great player elsewhere. Wherever his final destination lands him, I, in his words, “respect (his) decision” and wish him the best down the road.