ATHENS — Channing Tindall had no idea Will Muschamp was coming to Georgia, much less that he was already there. So, imagine Tindall’s surprise when he — the man known in his hometown of Columbia, S.C., as “the one that got away from the Gamecocks” — finally saw Muschamp inside the Bulldogs’ Butts-Mehre football complex.

“I didn’t even know he was here,” the senior linebacker said after Georgia’s practice Tuesday. “The first day I was watching some film with my coach and he said, ‘there’s a surprise upstairs.’ So I look up and I see Coach. I’m like, ‘what are you doing here?’ So, we had a nice little conversation. It was good to have somebody here from my hometown.”

Tindall leaving the Gamecocks’ backyard to come to Athens was a big deal in those parts. He was a U.S. Army All-American who starred at Spring Valley High, just 19 miles from Williams-Brice Stadium. Muschamp’s inability to sign Tindall and others like him in the area are part of the reason Muschamp no longer is South Carolina’s head coach.

Now he’s Georgia’s “senior analyst – defense.” That’s the full extent of what’s listed in his bio on UGA’s website. Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart hired Muschamp for that role in January at a salary of $300,000. That came roughly one month after Muschamp agreed to a $12.9 million settlement on his contract with South Carolina.

Though friends and confidantes first, Smart recently expounded on the dynamics of their new professional relationship.

“He’s probably the guy I lean on the most in terms of coaching the coaches and just drill selection,” Smart said last week. “I ask him, like, ‘Hey, how did you do this?’ or ‘Did you do this period first or this one?’ I’m trying to find new things to make our program better, and I like having him out there a lot. I like having him in the meetings because … he’s certainly a confident coach and very competent. … I just know he’s done things a lot of different ways.”

Georgia coach Kirby Smart (left) and South Carolina coach Will Muschamp shake hands after South Carolina defeated the Bulldogs in double overtime Oct. 12, 2019, at Sanford Stadium in Athens. The two were once teammates at Georgia and coached together on Valdosta State's staff in 2000. (Hyosub Shin /


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Like Smart, Muschamp’s coaching career was forged on defense, first as a secondary coach and then as a coordinator. He rose quickly through the ranks at LSU, Texas and Auburn before becoming a head coach, first at Florida, then at South Carolina.

Dan Lanning remains defensive coordinator and the Bulldogs recently hired Jahmile Addae as secondary coach, but Muschamp advises them and all the other assistants. Smart has given Muschamp freedom to weigh in on everything on defense.

“Coach Muschamp is a really good dude,” cornerback Ameer Speed said. “He’s been helping out the younger guys a lot, drilling the scheme in them and information so we all know what’s going on.”

Said Smart: “It’s helpful. It certainly builds confidence and gives you more ways to do things.”

It’s been interesting for Georgia’s players to behold. Muschamp has been the Gamecocks’ head coach as long as most of them can remember. Seeing Muschamp and Smart interact has been enlightening for them.

“They definitely have the same tendencies,” Tindall observed. “I don’t know if you’ve seen coach Smart with the visor or not, but coach Muschamp does the same thing with the visor. You can definitely tell they’re best friends. Even the advice they give is kind of similar, just the way they say it. They’re like two peas in a pod, honestly.”

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