South Carolina football continues coaching search as 2020 season comes to an end.
South Carolina is conducting its first head coaching search since 2015, when the Gamecocks were forced to replace legendary coach Steve Spurrier. That search produced names like Tom Herman and Kirby Smart, but the Gamecocks ultimately settled on former Florida head coach Will Muschamp.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for Muschamp and the Gamecocks, as he was relieved of his duties last weekend, following a loss to Ole Miss. Now, Ray Tanner and the South Carolina administration will be tasked with finding his predecessor.
We’ve seen names like Billy Napier, Matt Campbell, Luke Fickell, and even Bill O’Brien surface in connection with the opening, but which candidate is the best fit for the Gamecocks’ program?
We’re here to make a case for Hugh Freeze being the best option for South Carolina moving forward.
Freeze has been successful at every stop. Starting with Arkansas State back in 2011, he led the Red Wolves to a 10-win season and bowl game appearance. He then moved on to Ole Miss, where he took the Rebels to the Sugar Bowl before being fired amid a recruiting scandal.
He’s now on a redemption tour with Liberty as he tries to work his way back to the SEC. Freeze currently has the Flames sitting at No. 21 in the nation, having won all eight of their games this season, with upsets over ACC foes Syracuse and Virginia Tech.
Freeze is too big a name to stay outside the Power Five level for much longer, and he’s expressed his intent to get back to the conference that showed him the door just four years ago. South Carolina may offer his first chance to do so.
Freeze’s time in the SEC was extremely successful, as he twice landed the Ole Miss Rebels among the nation’s top five teams. He saw his program take down Alabama twice in five seasons, and earn trips to the Peach and Sugar Bowls. He finished with a career record of 39-25 in Oxford.
What’s most impressive is that he did this while competing in college football’s most difficult division with a program that isn’t considered to be among the SEC’s blue bloods. Ole Miss’s situation, in many ways, mirrors South Carolina’s. The program has seen intermittent success, but is often viewed as being behind the likes of Alabama, Auburn, and LSU in the SEC West, much like South Carolina’s relationship with Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee in the East.
Freeze has proven that he can succeed at the highest level with a program that’s typically less talented than it’s divisional foes. Someone that can do more with less is exactly what South Carolina needs.
The Gamecocks have to be leaning towards an offensive minded coach with their next hire following the failed tenure of Will Muschamp. And Freeze has shown offensive prowess at each stop.
With Arkansas State, his team averaged 32.5 points a game, good for 31st in the country. At Ole Miss, Freeze took over a group that had finished 116th out of 120 FBS teams in scoring. Four of the next five seasons, his offenses would score 30 points or more, with his best group (2015) averaging more than 40 points a contest and finishing eighth in the nation in scoring.
Now, at Liberty, he has the Flames scoring 40.5 points a game, good for the 16th best clip in college football.
The Gamecocks have had their best program success when they have high powered offenses. Freeze could bring that back to Columbia.
With SEC success, offensive ingenuity, and a yearning to get back to the league that dropped him just a handful of seasons ago, Hugh Freeze is the best fit for South Carolina football.