“Visiting my son and talking ball,” is all Muschamp said before jumping into his truck in an assistant coach’s spot at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and driving away. He declined further comment.
It has long been speculated that Muschamp was interested in taking on some kind of role at Georgia. He is a UGA football letterman and his son, Jackson, is a redshirt freshman and walk-on quarterback for the Bulldogs.
At one point, it looked as if Georgia might be in need of a defensive coordinator, but current coordinator Dan Lanning turned down an opportunity to take the same job at Texas last week.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are in the market for a defensive backs coach. Charlton Warren resigned that position at UGA to become defensive coordinator at Indiana. Muschamp is a former safety at Georgia and has primarily coached that position during his career.
Also, Georgia inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann is attracting interest for other jobs. LSU recently contacted him about its defensive coordinator vacancy, people familiar with that search confirmed. Schumann is listed as UGA’s co-defensive coordinator, even though he makes $650,000 less a year than Lanning ($1.25 million).
A more likely role for Muschamp, however, could be in an off-field support position. Bringing on a former head coach as a member of the support staff has become common these days. Alabama coach Nick Saban has made good use of it.
Most recently, former Tennessee coach Butch Jones worked for Saban at Alabama for three years, first as an offensive analyst and then as a special assistant to the head coach. Jones recently was hired as head coach at Arkansas State.
Before that, Saban hired Steve Sarkisian as an offensive analyst in 2016 following his leave of absence and eventual firing as Southern Cal’s head coach. Sarkisian took over as interim offensive coordinator for the College Football Playoff Championship game that season. After that game, he joined the Falcons as offensive coordinator for two seasons, and then flourished as the Crimson Tide’s play-caller the past two seasons. Sarkisian recently was named the new head coach at Texas.
For the ousted coaches, it is a good way for them remain in the game while still drawing the majority of their salary from their previous employer.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart (left) and South Carolina coach Will Muschamp shake hands after South Carolina's win in 2019. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Muschamp, 49, was fired as the Gamecocks’ head coach Nov. 15 with three games remaining in the 2020 season. His five-year tenure ended with a 28-30 overall record, and 17-22 in SEC play.
With three years remaining on his contract, Muschamp is still owed between $13 million and $15 million by South Carolina, according to published reports. He made $4.3 million annually as the Gamecocks’ head coach. It would be understandable, then, if he wasn’t interested in the grind of daily practices and year-round recruiting but wanted to remain in the game and watch his son play.
It’s well-chronicled that Muschamp and Smart are good friends. In fact, their careers have run an almost parallel course.
Muschamp was a senior defensive back at Georgia when Smart signed with the Bulldogs. He also was defensive coordinator at Valdosta State when he convinced Smart to join him as defensive backfield coach shortly after Smart finished college. They also worked together briefly on Saban’s staff at LSU.
Since then, Smart and Muschamp mostly have gone against each other either as head coaches or assistants. Twice Muschamp was defensive coordinator at Auburn, once while Smart was defensive coordinator at Alabama and later when Smart was Georgia’s head coach.
South Carolina was Muschamp’s second head coaching stop. He was Florida’s head coach from 2011-14. His overall record as a head coach is 56-51 (34-37 SEC).
Muschamp’s son, Jackson, created a bit of a stir last year when he chose to walk on at Georgia rather than at South Carolina, where his father was still head coach. Muschamp addressed it at the time.
“Coach Smart’s known Jackson since he was born. So, obviously, there’s a relationship there,” Muschamp said. “So, I felt like it was a good fit for him. It’s what he wanted to do.”