Did USC’s loss to Citadel torpedo deal with Houston’s Herman?

The Citadel’s Tyler Renew escapes a tackle attempt by South Carolina’s Gerald Dixon to score a touchdown during the Bulldogs’ 23-22 upset of the Gamecocks on Nov. 21, 2015, in Columbia. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

A new report in USA Today says that last season’s loss to The Citadel might have cost South Carolina a shot at its No. 1 candidate to replace Steve Spurrier as football coach.

In an article on new Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp, USA Today’s Dan Wolken reports that USC was all set to hire Houston’s Tom Herman as its next coach after Spurrier retired in mid-season. Then, The Citadel upset the Gamecocks, 23-22, in Columbia on Nov. 21.

Wolken writes: “South Carolina, in fact, first targeted Houston’s Tom Herman and was so far down the road toward an agreement, according to two people familiar with the process, that the school’s administration had essentially shut its search process down.

“Those same people, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity, said Herman’s mind changed after South Carolina lost to The Citadel on Nov. 21 and it became clear the next coach would have a massive rebuilding job on his hands. Herman decided to stay at Houston for a deal worth nearly $3 million per year and, presumably, wait for a more high-profile situation.

“South Carolina, meanwhile, turned next to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who instead went to Georgia, and talked extensively with Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, who turned down an offer he did not view as legitimate, according to people familiar with the process.”

If true, it’s not the first time a loss to The Citadel has impacted hiring decisions at a SEC school. In 1992, Arkansas coach Jack Crowe was fired the day after his Razorbacks lost to the Bulldogs, 10-3.