WILL LINCOLN RILEY LAND GAMECOCK GIG?
Having lost out on its top head coaching targets, the University of South Carolina is now scrambling to fill the vacancy created by the midseason resignation of former head coach Steve Spurrier.
It’s a terrible situation … especially considering the Gamecock athletics director Ray Tanner had a huge head start.
Anyway, with Houston head coach Tom Herman staying put, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart headed to Georgia, Memphis head coach Justin Fuente headed to Virginia Tech and Georgia coach Mark Richt headed to Miami – South Carolina is on the verge of falling off the coaching carousel.
That’s crazy considering the Gamecocks have state-of-the-art facilities, a loyal fan base and the ability to offer their new coach up to $4.5 million in annual salary.
Where will they turn? Conventional wisdom dictates the Gamecocks will offer the job to former Florida head coach Will Muschamp – even though he couldn’t get the job done in Gainesville and has been a disaster in his first year as defensive coordinator at Auburn.
Still, Muschamp is viewed as the current frontrunner for the Gamecock job seeing as the other top choices are off the table.
Another candidate receiving consideration? Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. In his first year in Norman, Riley has guided the third-ranked Sooners to some pretty gaudy offensive numbers.
Oklahoma averaged a whopping 45.8 points per game during the regular season – third best among the 127 NCAA Division I-A (a.k.a. FBS) programs. The Sooners are putting up 542.9 total yards per game – good for seventh-best nationally. That total features a nifty balance of rushing and passing – with Riley’s unit ranking No. 16 nationally on the ground (235 yards per game) and No. 19 through the air (307.9 yards per game).
That’s impressive balance, people.
Prior to coming to Oklahoma, the 32-year-old coach spent five years as East Carolina’s offensive coordinator – putting up huge numbers for the Pirates. During his last year in Greenville, N.C., Riley’s offense led the American Athletic Conference with 533 yards per game.
Prior to his career at East Carolina, Riley coached wide receivers at Texas Tech under its former coach, Mike Leach.
Here’s our question, though: Could Riley put up similarly astronomical numbers against SEC defenses? While balancing the additional responsibility of being a head coach?
Those are important questions …
So, which coach will the Gamecocks hire? Or will they go in another direction?
We’ll find out soon … although with each passing day South Carolina’s options are narrowing.