The Daily Gamecock interviewed 30 students for their thoughts on who the next football head coach should be after Will Muschamp was fired this past weekend.
“It was sad to see him go,” first-year political science student Billy Cheek said. “But I feel like it’s business. It needed to be done.”
Students' top five suggestions for the head coach position were Hugh Freeze, Steve Sarkisian, Tony Elliott, Billy Napier and Jamey Chadwell.
Freeze, Liberty University's head coach, was one of the most popular choices among students. He has led Liberty to an undefeated season in 2020 and already has SEC experience under his belt, having coached at Ole Miss for five years.
“Oh yeah, definitely Hugh Freeze,” said Alex Marinelli, a second-year visual communications student. “We’ve talked about him a little bit. He’s probably the best option. He’s been pretty good [at Liberty].”
Sarkisian, Alabama's offensive coordinator, stood out to many students mainly because of his past work with Alabama. Other than Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Sarkisian has also worked alongside former University of Southern California head coach Pete Carroll and Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin.
“I’ll take Sarkisian,” first-year business student Andrew Manatrizio said. “Those Alabama guys are no joke, man, you see what happened with Kirby Smart.”
The third head coach suggested by students was Elliott, current offensive coordinator at Clemson. Elliott has been very successful at Clemson University, contributing to Clemson’s two national championships in 2016 and 2018 and working alongside head coach Dabo Swinney, quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence and senior running back Travis Etienne. Elliott was also named the recipient of the 2017 Frank Boyles Award, which is awarded to the nation’s top assistant coach.
For some students, the Carolina-Clemson rivalry overpowers wanting anyone from Clemson.
“I don’t think I know enough to pick a favorite or anything,” second-year operations management student Andrew Brogan said. “But not the guy from Clemson. No, no Clemson people.”
Another coach that has caught students' attentions is the head coach of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Napier. Under Napier’s time at Louisiana, the program has broken numerous records, including the most points scored in a single season, 531, and total yards gained in a single season, 6,918. On top of that, Napier was awarded the program’s first Sun Belt Coach of the Year in 2019.
Napier also has a resume of Division I universities, including working at Clemson, Alabama and South Carolina State, in addition to his time playing at Furman University.
“Billy Napier, from Lousiana,” said Corey Savoie, a second-year sports and entertainment management student. “I think what he’s done there has been really good, and I think he’d be a good pickup for the program.”
The final coach students are interested in is Jamey Chadwell, a two-time FCS National Coach of the Year Finalist and current head coach of Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers are undefeated this year and nationally ranked for the first time in program history. Coaching at South Carolina, a Power 5 team, would be a step up for his resume, having only coached at smaller programs such as North Greenville, Delta State, Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina.
“One, I think it would be cool. Two, I think he’s doing a lot with what he has,” second-year biological sciences student Camille Lyons said. “I feel like we have more talent, so I think if he brought his knowledge to our talent, we’d be doing pretty good.”