TSS Roundtable: The worst offseason head coaching hires

March Madness has come and gone and spring football is in the air. It’s time to get back in the groove of discussing college football here at The Student Section. TSS associate editors Bart Doan and Terry Johnson join staff writer Kevin Causey in our roundtable as we discuss coaching hires. Earlier this week we discussed the best coaching hires….now it’s time to discuss the worst…..

Question: Who had the worst head coaching hire this offseason?

Bart Doan: On Twitter @TheCoachBart

Worst is relative to what you had, so if you’re breaking up with Kristen Bell or whatever, you’re going to wind up on the “worst” list no matter who you replace her with. At any rate, since I think in an e-mail we talked about how we all couldn’t choose Will Muschamp, I’m going to pretend I didn’t see that and say “Will Muschamp.”

Muschamp’s time at Florida was abject failure. Of course, he was replacing one of the top 2 head coaches of our generation. That said, Florida was rife with trouble off the field, couldn’t win on the field enough, and even when they did, showed their backsides too often, such as in their Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville.

Steve Spurrier admitted that the South Carolina roster that the career 28-21 Muschamp will inherit is not exactly loaded with talent. Yikes. Muschamp’s last outfit at least had that much going for it when he stepped in.

So South Carolina hired a guy who presided over Florida during at time when they snapped their 22-straight bowl appearance seasons and was wholly unable to get consistent or even halfway decent quarterback play in his time there. Even Spurrier has struggled to consistently get an elite signal caller in Gamecock land. What will Will do?

This was a very curious hire, almost a, “the last guy we hired was clearly on the back 9 of his career and it bit us, so let’s make sure we don’t do that again.” It’s common HR failure, choosing someone so polar opposite the person you just fired. Muschamp must interview well.

Terry Johnson:
On Twitter @SectionTPJ 

My gut reaction to this question was “Kirby Smart’s hiring at Georgia”. After all, the Dawgs chose to fire Mark Richt – who was second in school history in wins (145) and third in winning percentage (.740) – and replace him with someone who has never been a head coach. I don’t care who he coached under, there’s a big difference between being an outstanding coordinator – which Smart is – and being a great head coach. College football history is filled with stories about great signal callers who simply did not get the job done as the lead dog.

You know, someone like Will Muschamp, whose hiring at South Carolina was the worst coaching decision of the offseason.

Make no mistake about it: Muschamp is one of the best defensive minds in the game today. During his highly successful career as a defensive coordinator, he’s guided Texas, Auburn (in his first stint), and LSU to top 10 finishes in total defense. His units were equally impressive as the head coach at Florida, with the Gators ranking in the top 15 in yards per game in each of his four seasons in Gainesville.

However, the offense was a completely different story.

To steal a quote from Jim Mora, UF couldn’t do diddly poo offensively under Muschamp’s watch. In that span, the Gators ranked 100th or worse nationally in total offense three times, never finishing higher than 96th. Despite bringing in highly successful coordinators Charlie Weis, Brett Pease, and Kurt Roper to tweak the offense, Florida couldn’t move the ball well enough to win on a consistent basis, which ultimately led to Muschamp’s dismissal.

At this point, I’m sure that many people will blame the players – especially the quarterbacks – rather than the coaching staff for the Gators’ offensive woes during that time. Yet, given the success that Tyler Murphy, Jacoby Brissett, and Jeff Driskel had at other programs, it’s impossible to say that the offense struggled because there wasn’t enough talent to work with.

That’s what makes Muschamp’s hiring at South Carolina so puzzling. If the Gamecock offense had trouble moving the ball under an offensive genius like Steve Spurrier, what made the powers-that-be think that anything would be different under the Muschamp’s leadership?

Sorry, USC fans, but your situation has not improved.

Kevin Causey:
On Twitter @CFBZ

I really thought Terry was going to go with Matt Campbell at Iowa State. I also think Muschamp was a terrible hire. He could turn out to do okay if he learns from his mistakes but he did nothing last year to show that he deserved to be a head coach this season.

My pick is out west. The USC Trojans are a flagship program. Why then do they keep hiring coaches that either don’t deserve the position or haven’t proven themselves?

Clay Helton could end up being a fine college football coach for the USC Trojans. I just find it hard to believe that the Trojans couldn’t find someone else that had more experience and a proven track record to take this job.

Helton feels like a “safe” hire in that the administration knew the kind of person they were getting. After the disasters that were Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian, they couldn’t afford to make another “mistake”. The problem could be that this hire is too safe.

Can the talent on USC’s roster overcome Helton’s inexperience? Only time will tell but for know he’s probably the biggest mystery of all the new head coaches this college football season.