It's hard to believe that there are only two games left on the Gamecocks schedule. The Cocks host The Citadel this weekend, and then it's the Clemson game to end the season. When this season ends, it will take with it the Gamecocks streak of 11 straight .500 seasons, seven straight bowl game appearances, and four consecutive bowl victories over the likes of Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, and The U. Whether the Spurrier era is remembered as the best of times or as the beginning of something special will be determined in the next few weeks when South Carolina announces it's next HBC.
Last weekend things looked great for South Carolina to hire their reported top candidate, Houston coach Tom Herman. First, ESPN College Gameday host Kirk Herbstreet tweeted out his guess that Herman would take the South Carolina job. Then, South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner, interviewed during the Florida game, said the decision on the new coach would likely be made in early December. But that's all starting to look like wishful thinking now. The Gamecocks would love to lock up their coach as soon as the season ends, but it looks like the coach might want to play the field for awhile. It's become a coaching frenzy out there.
There are currently 11 open head coaching positions in the FBS and that number will surely rise by the first week December. The biggest of the dominoes waiting to fall is Southern Cal. Many people believe it is the top job in the country, but those people tend to be from the West Coast. Tom Herman is from the West Coast. He grew up in Simi Valley. But having been to the coaching rodeo only last year, there are no obvious candidates left for the Trojans. On the one hand, I'm not sure they want someone as raw as Lane Kiffin, again, and on the other hand, Hollywood needs hype to resurrect their program and Herman is getting all the hype. The Gamecocks should hope the Trojans decide to just keep their interim coach.
The second domino is Miami. While Herman himself would be a terrible fit at The U, the buzz from South Beach is that Charlie Strong is interested in leaving Texas for Miami. Strong's ties to the Miami area are so deep, remember, that he was able to recruit Teddy Bridgewater to Louisville. Anyone who's been to both Miami and Louisville knows what a tough sell that must have been. There's no doubt that he's a perfect fit for Miami, but many would question the wisdom of giving up on what is, with all due respect to the West Coast, the best job in college football. While Miami is talent rich, it's athletic department is cash poor. It would mean giving up millions of dollars and perks like a private jet.
Ultimately, Herman belongs in the state of Texas. If Strong left UT, Herman would make sense as his replacement. In his young career, he's coached at Texas Lutheran, UT, Sam Houston State, Texas State, Rice, and Houston. He spent a total of five years at Iowa State and Ohio State before moving back to Texas. For the Gamecocks, the threat is greater than just Strong bolting for Miami. If Kevin Sumlin, who is reportedly on the hot seat at Texas A&M, were to leave for the NFL, Herman would be the logical choice there, too. Furthermore, Houston is preparing to try to re-negotiate his contract in an effort to keep him where he is. Even if neither job opens this year, Herman may decide to stay at Houston and wait it out.
While schools like Virginia Tech, Missouri, and Maryland have also shown interest in Herman, each of those schools offers similar money with fewer recruiting advantages than South Carolina. The Gamecocks are the third domino in the coaching line. But being the third domino means that you must wait for the bigger dominoes to fall before you. If Georgia and Texas A&M have openings in early December, the Gamecocks wait may get even longer.
Unfortunately for South Carolina, their top candidate has become this year's "it" coach. While Tanner is trying to wrap him up early before the big dominoes get their chance, it's looking increasingly likely that the Gamecocks will need to pick another coach from the boneyard.