football Edit

Six candidates to watch for South Carolina opening

Billy Napier
Billy Napier (AP)

With Will Muschamp out at South Carolina, the Gamecocks have now begun a search for their next head coach. Here are six names that could get serious attention in the coming weeks.

MORE: Muschamp runs out of time at South Carolina | Recruits react | Teams that could benefit | Coaching Search Central on GamecockCentral.com

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SHANE BEAMER, assistant head coach, Oklahoma

Beamer has never been a head coach but he has so much else going for him including a report Sunday night on GamecockCentral.com that some former players are supporting him for the job. That could be a major bonus for Beamer: Not only has he coached at South Carolina under Steve Spurrier, but he did very well there on the field and as recruiting coordinator. He was born in Charleston, he’s only 43 years old, he has a phenomenal pedigree as Frank Beamer’s son and he’s coached at numerous powerhouse programs including currently at Oklahoma so he knows the ropes.

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JAMEY CHADWELL, head coach, Coastal Carolina

Chadwell is not only an offensive mind who has done wonders this season at Coastal Carolina, but he’s also a feel-good story since he started coaching at Division II North Greenville, then went to Delta State, did fantastically at Charleston Southern and now has the Chanticleers undefeated and ranked No. 15 in the AP poll. That’s pretty good.

Chadwell knows the state, he’s coached at different schools in the state and this would be a massive step up from Coastal Carolina to the SEC but he’s proven along the way that he’s a winner and he’s also a former quarterback for those Gamecock fans that are dying for some more offense in Columbia.

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TONY ELLIOTT, offensive coordinator, Clemson

Elliott has called plays at Clemson since Chad Morris left for SMU. His entire career has been spent in the state of South Carolina, whether playing for the Tigers or coaching at South Carolina State, Furman or back at Clemson. He’s only 40 years old. He can recruit. And if the Gamecocks brought him in as their next coach then Clemson would take a major hit to its coaching staff, something that might appeal to the decision-makers when talking about state supremacy.

Elliott has never been a head coach so taking over an SEC program would be a massive undertaking, but he has major responsibilities at Clemson and should be able to step right in at South Carolina and not miss a beat.

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HUGH FREEZE, head coach, Liberty

If South Carolina wants a complete overhaul and bring in an offensive-minded coach who has won in the SEC before, Freeze is your guy. On the field, Freeze’s teams put up big numbers when he was at Ole Miss and the same is true now that he’s at Liberty, where the Flames average more than 40 points per game and are undefeated.

However, Freeze has well-documented scandals that might need to be addressed before the South Carolina decision-makers are fully comfortable bringing him in. Freeze is a risk but it might be one worth taking since he’d probably be able to recruit well to Columbia especially on offense.

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WILL HEALY, head coach, Charlotte

Healy is an interesting choice for numerous reasons. At only 35 years old, he’s already been a head coach for five years at Austin Peay and now Charlotte, where he led that team to a bowl game last season. At Austin Peay, Healy led a remarkable turnaround from a team that went 0-11 his first year to 8-4 and at that point it looked like bigger things were in his future.

He reportedly interviewed at Missouri and Ole Miss after last season but stayed at Charlotte. Healy knows the recruiting territory, those Charlotte-area connections could help a lot at South Carolina but he also has a 22-30 overall record, something that might scare off some people off.

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BILLY NAPIER, head coach, Louisiana

Late in the 2019 season, Napier had been mentioned for openings at Arkansas, Florida State, Missouri, Ole Miss and others but he turned them all down to return to Louisiana because he felt the job had not been finished there. Napier is an interesting candidate for South Carolina because he played quarterback at Furman and then coached at both Clemson and South Carolina State, so he has connections to the state and could hit the ground running in recruiting. A bigger focus on an offensive mind might be what the Gamecocks are looking for and Napier could fit that bill. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s 18-4 the last two seasons and has his team ranked in the top 25.