College Sports

SEC pundits weigh in: How will South Carolina do this year?

Will Muschamp talks 2019 schedule and the Gamecocks’ never-changing goals

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp speaks Wednesday, July 17, 2019, at SEC Media Days, in Hoover, Alabama.
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South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp speaks Wednesday, July 17, 2019, at SEC Media Days, in Hoover, Alabama.

The State spoke to a range of experts and media voices at SEC Media Days to get a sense of the conference and national temperature on South Carolina’s football team. The Gamecocks are facing down one of the most difficult schedules in the country with what Will Muschamp thinks might be his best team.

SEC Network co-host Chris Doering

“I’m going to go seven wins. I think seven wins is a tremendous season, given what the schedule offers. And my hope is that the fan base understands the challenge this year and that it’s more than just what your wins and losses say this year.

“I witnessed a very good coach in Will Muschamp being let go in my alma mater. And I wished at the time that they could have had a little more patience and longer vision.”

SEC Network analyst Greg McElrory

“We always talk about wins and losses -- you are what your record says you are, all that stuff, the age-old coach speak -- I’ve never been one that subscribes to that line of thinking. Because for instance, A&M, they might go 8-4 this year and lose to four of the top six teams in the country. That’s the same record they had last year. Did they make progress? Well, heck yeah because they roasted the other eight teams.

“So I don’t really look at their record. I just want to see them stay healthy, more than anything else. I want to see Jake Bentley finish his career on a really high note because we’re all rooting for him in that regard. And I would like to see them lay the foundation for the future years

“They just need some luck more than anything else. Just to stay healthy would be step one as far as the improvement that we can all anticipate from them.”

ESPN’s Peter Burns

“I think a good season is eight wins with that schedule. And then any thing above that and beyond that is unbelievable.

“It stinks because South Carolina is almost in a similar situation as Texas A&M in which I think both teams are actually going to be better yet the record may not show that.

“I think Ray Tanner, the athletic director, is going to look at that team and go, ‘Would 2019 South Carolina be able to beat 2018 South Carolina?’ I think Muschamp would be like, ‘Yeah, absolutely.’”

SEC Network color analyst Matt Stinchcomb

“I think they’ll be a better team with probably a worse record. Think the idea that you’re going to play four of the top teams in the country, certainly three of them, Texas A&M being the intraconference permanent rival, it’s not an ideal year in the win-loss column to try to make strides.”

CBS writer Barrett Sallee

“Just be competitive. They’ve come a long way with Will Muschamp. This is probably the best defense that he has had. I think the recruiting he’s done has started to pay off. It might not show in the record. It might not show statistically. But just be competitive, especially considering you’re probably going to lose some big games. ... If they’re competitive, they might go 7-5. I think that would be a successful season. Get a bowl game. Get some extra practices, continue the slow upward trajectory.”

SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic

“That’s life in the SEC. That’s life in college football. Clemson, where they are obviously is the No. 1 program in college football, and they’ve got to play them every year. You throw in Alabama from the opposite division, that’s really all you need to make it one of the toughest schedules in the country. You’re not going to get a lot of breaks in this league.”

Former Gamecocks and Florida coach Steve Spurrier

“Got a very difficult schedule. If he can get through that with six, seven, eight wins, it’ll be a heck of a year.”