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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)
COLUMBIA — Will Muschamp has won more games than any other coach in his first three seasons at South Carolina, and is the first coach in school history to take the Gamecocks to bowl games in each of his first three years.
USC appreciates it.
The Board of Trustees approved raises and extensions for Muschamp and assistants Bryan McClendon, Travaris Robinson and Dan Werner on Tuesday. With National Signing Day on Wednesday and names being mentioned in other coaching searches around the country, athletics director Ray Tanner and the Board were proactive in preserving the progress of Muschamp's program.
"I think the last couple of weeks, coach Muschamp and I have had numerous conversations, and there's been other schools coming after his staff. You want to have staff members other people want, but you also want to retain them," Tanner said. "It makes a difference, because these relationships don't happen overnight, and I know those calls have been coming in, too — 'Is your staff going to be together?'"
The announcement came with some raised eyebrows. USC was applauded for not waiting to lock up assistants when they were being approached by other schools, and questioned for extending the contract of a head coach that went 7-5 this season (4-4 SEC).
The Gamecocks were 3-9 after the 2015 season, all momentum from a 33-6 run from 2011-13 squandered. The 2018 record isn't worthy of parades but it's a far cry from where it was.
"Are we happy that we're at seven wins? I don't think coach Muschamp would tell you he's happy at seven wins," Tanner said. "But there's been a lot of good things that have happened in our football program and we want it to continue. Being able to continue is keeping your guys together."
Muschamp had his contract re-worked for the second time in two years. He was extended through the 2024 season with the same salary increase for the final year that's in his current contract.
Muschamp made $4.2 million this season and received a $100,000 bonus for making the Belk Bowl. His contract calls for annual $200,000 escalators, meaning he is set to make $4.4 million next season and $5.4 million in the 2024 season.
The buyout clause for Muschamp terminating the contract was also amended. He would owe USC $4 million if he left after the 2019 season, with the total decreasing to $3.5 million after 2020 and $3 million after 2021.
McClendon drastically increased USC's production in his first year as offensive coordinator and turned down overtures to be head coach or OC at other schools. He was extended through 2021 and had his pay bumped to $1 million per year.
"I think it's always important from a continuity standpoint. Bryan's a really good football coach on a lot of fronts," Muschamp said, crediting McClendon's skills at schematics and relating to players. "I think the continuity of where we're trying to go as far as creating that championship culture, I thought, was very important."
McClendon was making $650,000 on a deal that lasted through the 2019 season. He would owe USC $300,000 if he left after the 2019 season and $200,000 after 2020.
Defensive coordinator Robinson is still USC's highest-paid assistant and was making $1.2 million per year through the 2020 season. He was extended through 2021 with no salary increase. His buyout totals are the same as McClendon's.
Werner just completed his first year on staff at a salary of $500,000. His deal was reworked to $700,000 through the 2020 season.
Werner turned down interest from Ole Miss to stay at USC. He was the primary recruiter for coveted quarterback prospect Ryan Hilinski, who will enroll in January.
Werner would owe USC $100,000 if he left after the 2019 season and $50,000 after 2020.
Muschamp and his wife, Carol, also donated from $250,000 to $750,000 for naming rights to the Will and Carol Muschamp Family Team Meeting Room at the new operations building. The staff will begin moving into the facility on Jan. 7.
"He's immersed in this university and this community and he's giving back," Tanner said. "We're grateful for what he means to our football program and we want him to be here for a long time."
Goose Creek alum Caleb Kinlaw's application for a sixth year of eligibility is still being processed, but Kinlaw said the people around him are extremely confident that he will receive it.
Summerville's Zack Bailey will attend the Belk Bowl and be on the sideline but obviously not play. He anticipates no delays in his NFL training due to the leg he fractured against Akron.
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