South Carolina is looking for a new head coach after relieving Will Muschamp of his duties on Sunday evening. It has been awhile since the Gamecocks have had to go through this process, but there are several quality candidates available.
You might see names such as Miami offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee or Army head coach Jeff Monken mentioned as potential replacements, but we have collected a list of five of the best available options to take charge of things in Columbia, South Carolina.
Don’t be surprised to see any of these five names attached to head coach vacancies in the near future.
1. Billy Napier, HC, Louisiana-Lafayette
Billy Napier is an interesting candidate to keep an eye on. He is familiar with the South Carolina area after spending time as the quarterbacks coach at South Carolina State back in 2005. He then followed it up with a five-year stint at Clemson in a variety of roles, including offensive coordinator from 2009-10.
The Louisiana head coach has brought plenty of success to the program. In his first season, he went 7-7. Since then, his teams have gone 18-4 with top 25 appearances under his belt. Napier has already gotten attention from bigger programs such as Mississippi State and Baylor, but ultimately chose to wait for something better.
South Carolina could be that opportunity.
2. Hugh Freeze, HC, Liberty
Hugh Freeze is on everyone’s coaching radar. Off-the-field incidents are the only reason he’s not still in Oxford as the head coach at Ole Miss, after all. After spending some time out of the game, Freeze took the head coaching gig at Liberty and has since built a powerhouse.
The Flames went 8-5 in Freeze’s first season, but things have gone to a new level in 2020. They are currently 8-0 and ranked in the top 25, according to the Coaches Poll and AP Poll. In eight seasons as a Division I head coach, Freeze has finished under .500 only once (5-7 with Ole Miss in 2016).
The man has won everywhere he’s been, and the Gamecocks could be his next restoration project — if the SEC and Greg Sankey sign off on it.
3. Shane Beamer, Assistant HC, Oklahoma
Shane Beamer is the only one on this list who isn’t a head coach currently. He is well on his way to becoming one, however, and South Carolina might be a perfect landing spot. Since 2018, Beamer has helped Lincoln Riley build an offensive juggernaut in Norman, Oklahoma.
He is the son of former legendary Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer. That makes Beamer instantly more attractive. Plus, he’s got experience at South Carolina. Between 2007-2010, he held several different positions, including the cornerbacks, linebackers and special teams coach.
Beamer also has stops at Tennessee (2001-03), Mississippi State (2004-06) and Georgia (2016-17). That means he’s familiar with the conference and probably would feel comfortable making a return.
4. Jamey Chadwell, HC, Coastal Carolina
Jamey Chadwell might not be a familiar name to many, but he will be soon enough. He’s got plenty of head coaching experience, but it has all come at the lower levels at programs such as North Greenville, Delta State, Charleston South and now Coastal Carolina.
He was originally the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for the Chanticleers, but after a brief stint as the interim head coach in 2017, he became the leading man permanently in 2019. The team went 5-7 that season, but they currently sit at 7-0 and rank in the top 25 in Year 2.
His next step might not be at an SEC school, but he’ll be moving up soon enough. Chadwell is a name worth monitoring.
5. Luke Fickell, HC, Cincinnati
The big question with Luke Fickell is whether he would go for a gig like South Carolina. He spent most of his college coaching career at Ohio State as an assistant in various roles, but he eventually landed his first head coaching job at Cincinnati in 2017.
There was a rebuilding process during that first season, and the team finished with an ugly 4-8 record. Since then, the Bearcats have put together back-to-back 11-win seasons and currently sit at 7-0 in 2020. That success has landed Fickell’s crew a spot in the top 10 (No. 7) with an outside shot at the College Football Playoff.
Every struggling football program looking to make a head coaching change should keep Fickell in mind.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.