South Carolina officials have already had preliminary conversations with Muschamp concerning the Gamecocks' head coaching job, and he's scheduled to interview formallylater this week, sources told ESPN.com. Muschamp, 44, is in his first season as Auburn's defensive coordinator. He was the Florida head coach for four seasons from 2011 to 2014, compiling a 28-21 record before being fired at the end of the 2014 season.
A source tells ESPN's Joe Schad that South Carolina also intends to speak with former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano and current Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez. Schiano is currently an ESPN analyst.
FoxSports.com initially reported on the Gamecocks' interest in the two.
Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Rileyis also on South Carolina's interview list, while Gamecocks interim coach Shawn Elliott interviewed on Wednesday.
Muschamp has an extensive background in the SEC, both as a coach and a recruiter, which made him attractive to South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner. A 20-year coaching veteran, Muschamp has coached 16 of those years in the SEC. He played at Georgia and coached under Nick Saban at LSU, where he was the Tigers' defensive coordinator on their 2003 national championship team. He's had two stints as the defensive coordinator at Auburn.
In seven seasons as an SEC defensive coordinator, his defenses have been ranked in the top 15 nationally six times in scoring defense. The only exception was this season. Auburn is ranked 68th nationally in scoring defense, giving up 27.3 points per game, but the Tigers improved as the season progressed. Muschamp's defense gave up just seven touchdowns in its final four SEC games.
Renowned for his fiery nature, Muschamp won 11 games and guided Florida to the Sugar Bowl in his second season as head coach in 2012. But it was a struggle for the Gators offensively the whole way under Muschamp, and they dipped to 4-8 in 2013 and 6-5 in 2014. Muschamp had three offensive coordinators in four years at Florida, and the lack of consistency and production on offense was ultimately his undoing.
The first part of his tenure at Florida was spent cleaning up a program that his predecessor, Urban Meyer, deemed as "broken" before resigning after the 2010 season. But it was all downhill after an 11-win season in 2012, and Muschamp acknowledged on his way out that he simply didn't win enough games. "That is the bottom line," he said.
This isn't the first time Muschamp has been on South Carolina's radar. Former Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier was close to quitting after the 2014 season, and sources told ESPN.com that Muschamp would have been the Gamecocks' choice to replace Spurrier had the Head Ball Coach retired then. Muschamp's name also came up as a possible defensive coordinator under Spurrier, but Muschamp instead went to Auburn, where he was one of the highest-paid defensive coordinators in college football this past season at $1.6 million.
Muschamp gaining momentum at South Carolina
ESPN College Football reporter Mark Schlabach discusses why the Gamecocks are interested in Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp as a potential head coach.