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South Carolina administrators are making a mess over Will Muschamp

© Jeff Blake | USATSI

There’s really no other way to say it: South Carolina is an absolute sh*t show.

Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks are staring down the barrel of a four-win season, with Clemson eagerly awaiting to deliver a deathblow in the season finale next Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. This was supposed to be the season the investment into Muschamp finally paid off. Aside from the upset victory at Georgia, it’s completely underwhelmed South Carolina fans.

In response, South Carolina administrators are taking the unprecedented route and publicly discussing their decision-making process. The best part? The president is going over the athletic director’s head by conducting interviews with local newspapers.

It all began a week ago when new South Carolina president Robert Caslen visited the Greenville News newsroom to address his frustration with Muschamp following the loss to Appalachian State.

“Coach Muschamp is my coach. That’s the message. He will be my coach through the end of the season,” Caslen said.

“And then, just like any other coach that’s out there, whether it’s a soccer coach, whether it’s the equestrian coach, whatever, they’re going to do an end-of-year assessment, the athletic director does. Then, we’ll see what’s up.

Friday evening athletic director Ray Tanner tried to dismiss the uncertainty from the president’s interview by releasing a statement showing support for Muschamp, “I want to make it clear that Will Muschamp is our football coach and will be our coach going forward. President Caslen and I are fully supportive of his leadership.”

Tanner wanted to make it clear, but clarity be damned. Following a loss at Texas A&M, the new president went to another newspaper, Florence, South Carolina’s Morning News, to drop a bomb. Monday evening Caslen told SCNow.com that he personally had not reached out to Florida State to determine how they procured their enormous buyout.

“No, but our athletic director (Ray Tanner) has,” Caslen said during an interview session at the Morning News. “And they’ve got a whole lot more money in their athletic endowment than we do. I know that, for a fact.

“Listen, for the record, (South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp) is my coach, period. And he’ll remain my coach, just for the record. If you look at the athletic director’s statement (Saturday, supporting Muschamp before his team’s 30-6 loss to Texas A&M), that’s the same that I endorse.”

To be clear: South Carolina’s president told a newspaper reporter that their athletic director asked Florida State how they secured a gigantic buyout payment.

To make things even more hilarious, the interview with the Florence paper was supposed to squash Caslen’s remarks that were “twisted” by the Greenville paper. All Caslen did was spill the beans on the buyout and force the other paper to release the audio from their original interview. He also told the Florence newspaper this:

“If we’re totally imploding and no one shows up (to the Clemson game), I’d say we’ll have a discussion,” Caslen said. “But there’s no desire intended to make a change.”

What’s happening at South Carolina is an absolute joke. Caslen, the new president, obviously wants to get rid of Muschamp, but a $19.4 million buyout before Dec. 30 stands in his way. It might be just enough to keep Muschamp in Columbia for one more season.

Athletic director Ray Tanner (left) with Muschamp and Robert Caslen (right) after South Carolina’s upset over Georgia, via Spurs and Feathers.

South Carolina isn’t the only SEC East school making statements about their football coach. Vanderbilt athletic director Malcom Turner released the following statement Tuesday afternoon about Derek Mason’s status at the university as Mason’s team wraps up its first season with Turner leading the athletic department.

I want to make it very clear that Derek Mason will be our head football coach moving forward. Coach Mason has my full support and I am committed to working with him to ensure our football program has the necessary resources and support to succeed.

We are in the midst of developing a new and robust athletic strategic plan with the vision to put the football program and all of our varsity sports in a position to win on and off the field of play. Coach Mason is committed to leading Vanderbilt’s football program the right way and we will move forward in that spirit together.

Mason may be a part of that “robust athletic strategic plan” for another year, but the long-term outlook does not look great. At least his new boss is handling the situation a little bit better than the folks in Columbia.

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Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR