COMMENTARY

Search for new offensive coordinator critical move for Muschamp

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The day that some South Carolina football fans have been clamoring for since the day Will Muschamp was hired as its new head coach two years ago finally came to fruition on Wednesday. Kurt Roper is no longer calling the offensive plays for the Gamecocks. Of course, the siren call for Roper's dismissal has grown in number in the two years that USC's offense has struggled uUnder his guidance. Those who questioned Muschamp's decision to bring Roper back on board at USC after their dismissals at Florida have been validated.

For whatever reason, Roper hasn't had the same success as a play caller at either Florida or Carolina that he had under head coach David Cutcliffe at Duke. The creativity his offenses exhibited at Duke have been lacking at South Carolina, especially this season.

Even with the injuries to wide receiver Deebo Samuel and running back Reco Dowdle for most of the season, this offense should have been more productive than it was.

Which brings us to what will probably be the defining moment of Muschamp's tenure as the Gamecocks' head coach. Muschamp needs to hit a home run with this hire; not with immediate name recognition but with success for the long haul. Whether a college football household name, an unknown or someone off of his staff, offensive success must come with him.

If Muschamp finds the man who can utilize the talent that is on hand and move the offense into the upper half of the Southeastern Conference, he has a chance to stay in Columbia for a long time if he so chooses. If Carolina was able to win eight games with an offense that averaged 20 points a game, it could get much better with one that averages over 30 a contest.

Muschamp said he isn't going to make a permanent hire until after Carolina takes on Michigan in the Outback Bowl. Wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon, the man who share the co-offensive coordinator title with Roper, will call the plays.

One has to think this is something of an audition for McClendon, who was the interim head coach at Georgia for its 2015 bowl game when Mark Richt was relieved of his duties. However, it's hard to figure if McClendon will be trying to win the job or keep the job.

The possibility exists that this could be McClendon's job to hold on to; unless it's an unmitigated disaster, McClendon is in line for the job. On the other side of the pendulum, he might be having to prove himself to Muschamp with an explosive performance.

The move that would keep the heat off of Muschamp, at least in the early going, would be to hire someone from outside of the current staff. Fans will be a little more lenient with someone coming in who has to learn the players, and the players have to learn his system.

If Muschamp chooses to go in house, there will be little, if any, honeymoon period. You can call it guilty by association, but if McClendon is hired and the offense struggles, the Roper association will bring out the immediate catterwalling from those in Gamecock Nation who are know for their catterwalling.

Muschamp has done a lot to rebuild his coaching acumen after his dismissal from Florida. He took over a 3-9 program and led it to a 6-win season last year and eight wins this with a possibility of nine. His next move comes with high expectations. Muschamp better choose wisely.