Who’s next for SCarolina? Gamecocks could go for rising star
Steve Spurrier is retiring from South Carolina after doing exactly what he said he wanted to when he took the job: Accomplish things that had never been done before in Columbia.
The Gamecocks didn’t win their first Southeastern Conference title, but in 11 seasons under Spurrier, he became the winningest coach in program history. South Carolina reached the SEC title game for the first time and had three straight 11-win seasons. They regularly beat Georgia and Tennessee and occasionally Florida.
South Carolina is a far more attractive job now than it was before Spurrier took it, but its history suggests Spurrier’s time was an outlier that will be difficult to replicate. Spurrier was young at heart and his uninhibited zingers will be impossible to replace, but injecting some youth into the programs seems like a solid idea.
Here are some possible candidates to replace the Head Ball Coach:
Jeff Brohm, WKU
The former Louisville quarterback is in year 2 as Western Kentucky’s head coach. If the goal is to hire a coach who can develop quarterbacks and put some juice into the offense, the 44-year-old Brohm could be that guy.
Matt Campbell, Toledo
Campbell turns 36 in November, but is already in his fourth full season as the Rockets coach. He is 31-13 with the Rockets and at 5-0 he appears headed to his best season yet. An Ohio guy who played defensive line at Division III power Mount Union, he was offensive coordinator at Toledo before being promoted in 2011.
Justin Fuente, Memphis
Fuente took over a dead program, and in Year 3 at Memphis, he is halfway to his second consecutive 10-win season. The 39-year-old from Oklahoma has already established himself as a program builder.
Kirby Smart, Alabama defensive coordinator
Unless Smart is just going to wait for Nick Saban to retire and hope he gets promoted, it is probably time for the 39-year-old to go be a head coach somewhere, prove himself, and then maybe come back when Saban does call it a career. Power Five schools aren’t hiring many first-time head coaches and defensive coordinators aren’t very popular these days, either. But if you buy Smart, you’re hoping he comes with Saban’s process.
Matt Wells, Utah State
Another Oklahoman, the 42-year-old former Utah State quarterback is not an obvious fit moving to the Southeastern Conference. He is 22-11 in two-plus seasons with the Aggies and is headed for a big job at some point so why not in the SEC?
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Dantonio went to South Carolina so people will ask if he would be interested. Highly unlikely.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP