Before I begin, allow me to say that following in the footsteps of the HBC is not an enviable task for a lot of guys. I'd also like to add the typical disclaimer, this article isn't telling anyone who Ray Tanner is going to hire. Ray will make that decision at the appropriate time; but having followed the coaching profession quite closely for nearly a decade now, here are my initial thoughts.
Thanks to Steve Spurrier, fans, alums and donors now expect South Carolina to compete for SEC championships nearly every season. To accomplish that, they should look to hire a proven coach. Exactly what constitutes as "proven" is debatable - but here are my thoughts as to where South Carolina should look with their search.
First, I expect Ray Tanner to speak with some of the finest coaches in the country to get their perspective and input on the job. I fully expect Tanner to speak with Mark Dantonio, an alum of USC. Dantonio, in my opinion, is unquestionably one of the top coaches in college football and sources in the past have told me that South Carolina remains a special place to Dantonio. Does that mean he'd be a candidate? Having spent time with Dantonio in East Lansing, I believe he's happy there. This is one of those times where Mark Dantonio knows the call is coming, has to answer it, and will be gracious in providing input and suggestions into the process; but I do not expect Dantonio to leave Michigan State for this opportunity.
To win at South Carolina a coach has to be able to recruit not only the Carolinas, but also Georgia, Florida and be able to reach into other states as necessary. A coach who has demonstrated that ability, or who has the immediate name recognition that would allow one to do so is what is needed here.
This might pain some Carolina fans but here me out on this: you guys would be wise to visit with both Chad Morris and Brent Venables during this search. Yes, both coaches have been a large part of archenemy Clemson's surge over the past decade. Get past that and recognize that not only are these two guys excellent coaches, but they are also excellent leaders of men. I've had the pleasure of getting to know both coaches over the past few years and can honestly tell you that if your program is lucky enough to hire either of these two, you most certainly won't regret it.
Finally, there is the one coach, and perhaps the only one, who could land in Columbia and immediately be as entertaining and whose offense could be equally fun to watch as the Head Ball Coach...and that, my friends, is Rich Rodriguez. Rich, back in South Carolina, knocking elbows with the boys in the SEC and over at Clemson would be tremendous for all involved. Oh, and you would win plenty of games. Plenty. Like, a lot of them.
With all of this said, there are certainly a lot of other coaches one could consider and I trust that Ray Tanner will oversee a fine search. He'll speak with the right people and he'll meet with the right people. And I expect him to wind up hiring one heck of a football coach, because I expect the interest from the coaching side to be significant. This is a job coaches will line up for.
As always, as the search progresses and as information begins to move, we'll keep you posted on The Scoop.
For those looking for some of Steve Spurrier's best lines. Go here, scroll down and enjoy!