What if Hugh Freeze says no? South Carolina should consider these options
Liberty coach Hugh Freeze is reportedly the top choice and widely considered the front-runner to replace Will Muschamp as South Carolina’s head football coach.
Freeze’s credentials are largely tied to his success at Ole Miss, where he took down Nick Saban and Alabama twice and led the Rebels to a No. 3 ranking in 2014. More recently, Freeze this season has produced an 8-0 record and his team is ranked No. 21 in the country.
But there are some who believe Freeze may turn down South Carolina for another year at Liberty and wait for more prominent SEC jobs to potentially open at Auburn or Tennessee.
So if Freeze follows that general theory, or simply says no, what’s the next move?
Let’s handicap 4 other options for South Carolina:
Louisiana’s Billy Napier
Napier is arguably the most realistic choice and is touted for his coaching pedigree at Clemson and Alabama under Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban. Napier played at Furman, then was a graduate assistant at Clemson before he became a quarterbacks coach at South Carolina State. Napier joined Clemson as a full-time offensive assistant from 2006-10, and he’s also been a wide receivers coach at Alabama. He was Arizona State’s offensive coordinator in 2017 before taking over at Louisiana in 2018. Napier is 25-11 in 3 seasons with the Ragin’ Cajuns. Obviously he knows South Carolina and has competed in the SEC.
Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell
The Chanticleers are undefeated and No. 15 in the AP Top 25. Caldwell also has deep ties in the state, as he coached at Charleston Southern before moving to Coastal in 2017.
Chadwell has been the school’s full-time head coach since 2019. He replaced Joe Moglia, first as on an interim basis. Chadwell started his career at NCAA Division II North Greenville, where he guided that program to its first NCAA playoffs bid. Overall, Chadwell has won 75 games in 10 years as a head coach at Charleston Southern (2013-16), Delta State (2012), North Greenville (2009-10) and at Coastal Carolina (2017 and 2019).
Alabama’s Steve Sarkisian
Similar to Freeze’s story, Sarkisian is weighing rehabilitating his image while also weighing the type of job he wants to land as a head coach. He, too, might wait for a more prominent opening.
Sarkisian interviewed for the recent opening at Colorado before he pulled his name and received a raise to stay at Alabama as offensive coordinator.
Though he has been at Alabama, Sarkisian is most known for his West Coast stints, and corresponding recruiting ties at Washington and Southern Cal. Sarkisian is in his second year as Alabama’s offensive coordinator after serving 2 seasons in the same capacity with the Atlanta Falcons. The Alabama offense is arguably the most efficient offense in college football. One potential question: Could he land the same athletes he’s worked with at Alabama, Southern Cal or Washington?
Oklahoma’s Shane Beamer
This would be a link back to the Steve Spurrier days after Beamer served on the Gamecocks’ staff first in 2007. He has coached mostly special teams, outside linebackers and cornerbacks, but also coached running backs at Virginia Tech. He was praised as South Carolina recruiting coordinator for classes from 2009-2011. He may have the most varied experience around the country with stops at Mississippi State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Georgia.
He’s the son of Hall of Famer Frank Beamer and was also a graduate assistant at Tennessee assistant. He’s been a full-time Power 5 assistant since 2004.
More dark horse candidates include offensive coordinator Joe Brady of the Carolina Panthers, the wunderkind passing game coordinator credited with plenty of LSU’s success during last year’s national championship run.
Also interesting is Louisville coach Scott Satterfield, the former coach at Appalachian State, no doubt with the kinds of recruiting ties throughout the Carolinas that are paramount to being successful, along with a proven offensive background.
Most view this as Freeze’s job to accept or reject. If the latter happens, the Gamecocks have plenty of other enticing options.