It’s no secret that South Carolina fans are growing frustrated with the Will Muschamp era.

This year, the Gamecocks are 2-4 heading into the second half of the season, but Muschamp’s large buyout looms large as a potential obstacle toward firing him, particularly in the COVID-19 era of tightening athletic department budgets.

This week, Yahoo’s Pete Thamel wrote that Muschamp’s future might not be tied to the budget, though. Rather, Thamel wrote that AD Ray Tanner’s job is the one with the biggest impact on Muschamp:

South Carolina’s exhaustive AD search ended down the hall with their baseball coach, a 1980s way of thinking that’s gotten them the predictable underwhelming results. The tell if South Carolina is motivated to fire Will Muschamp in 2020 will be if they oust Ray Tanner, the overmatched athletic director, in the next few weeks. If he’s abruptly ousted soon, South Carolina could in theory find a replacement to work with the new coach. But time is running out. They’ll also have to find more than $13 million to buy out Muschamp, who was Tanner’s pick as head coach. South Carolina has long lagged behind its SEC brethren in athletic department sophistication. Can president Bob Caslen, hired in 2019, pull all this off amid a pandemic? If 2-4 turns to 2-8 for the Gamecocks, they’ll be increasing noise to make moves. Hopelessness is expensive, too.

It will be expensive to replace both Tanner and Muschamp, but as Thamel writes, it might be even more expensive to continue to let the football program slip in the wrong direction.

Tough choices will need to be made this offseason, it seems.