COLUMBIA — Will Muschamp didn't wait.
South Carolina’s fourth-year football coach shook up his staff a day after finishing a 4-8 season by firing two coaches and demoting another. The moves were aimed at eliminating the two most troublesome areas of the Gamecocks’ program the past two years — its inept offense and a lengthy injury list.
Sources close to the program confirmed to The Post and Courier that strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman was fired during a morning meeting Sunday. Also fired was quarterbacks coach Dan Werner.
Offensive coordinator and play-caller Bryan McClendon was demoted, and Muschamp has already begun the search for a new one, his sixth such search in eight years as a head coach. McClendon has been offered a chance to remain on staff in an unconfirmed role, perhaps stemming from his success in recruiting and his close friendship with running backs coach Thomas Brown.
“At the end of the day, we need to be more productive. That’s the bottom line. I’m tired of talking about it,” Muschamp said after a 38-3 loss to Clemson Saturday ended the year. “You know, no one was bitching last year when we averaged 425 yards and we averaged over 30 points a game. We’ve struggled this year. There’s a lot of different areas that are at fault and need to get fixed, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
McClendon was elevated to interim coordinator and play-caller after taking over for the fired Kurt Roper at the end of Muschamp’s second season. The Gamecocks won the Outback Bowl with an electrifying fourth-quarter comeback as McClendon called the shots, prompting Muschamp to drop the interim tag soon after.
With a new contract through the 2021 season and bumped in salary to $1 million per year, McClendon’s 2018 offense did exactly what Muschamp mentioned during his press conference. It set historic numbers for USC’s program but the Gamecocks went a mere 7-6. They didn’t score in the second half against Akron and were shut out by Virginia in the Belk Bowl.
This year, McClendon's offense dipped to 371.9 yards and 22.4 points. The Gamecocks scored nine points in their final two games and one touchdown over their final three.
McClendon was calling plays from the press box in 2018 before moving to the sideline midway through the season. He reversed that midway through this season but was again on the sideline for the Clemson game.
He has also coached USC’s receivers and could continue in that role.
If Muschamp does as expected and hires a coordinator who’s also a quarterbacks coach, Mike Bobo could be a natural fit. Bobo is facing scrutiny after five years as Colorado State’s head coach, where wins have been scarce and attendance has sagged.
Bobo, like Muschamp a Georgia graduate, was known for cultivating celebrated Georgia quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray. He was the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator from 2007-14, when Georgia won at least 10 games five times.
Dillman was fired after an abnormal amount of injuries the past two years, which often left the Gamecocks fielding third-string players for the majority of games. He was earning $425,000, and his contract lasted through May 2020.
Werner was making $700,000 and had his contract extended through the 2020 season in December 2018. He was credited for signing quarterback Ryan Hilinski, but Hilinski regressed this season after a strong start. Many of his struggles seemed to be due to injuries, his throwing elbow bothering him before the Missouri game and then taking a hard shot to the knee against Georgia.