South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner and his staff were always talking to schools looking for South Carolina’s 12th game.
They talked to teams that had games canceled by hurricanes. They talked to teams, such as the Akron squad that eventually got the spot, whose games were canceled by other weather issues. They even talked to a few teams that played at Hawaii and had the availability for a 13th game.
And in all that, Tanner had a simple mission.
“I don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to things like this,” Tanner said. “I want to move forward as quickly as possible, and ideally I wanted to do it a month out so we had the opportunity to build that game.
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“I’m really pleased.”
Tanner said the contract was exchanged on Thursday night after Akron was eliminated from the MAC title game race. There was some thought to announcing next week, along a timeline Tanner had suggested earlier, but Tanner wanted to announce earlier, on Friday morning, and Muschamp approved of the rollout. The fact it wasn’t done bothered him on a day-to-day basis, Tanner admitted.
South Carolina lost its September game with Marshall to Hurricane Florence. Akron lost its game with Nebraska to lightning and severe weather, and the Zips saw the Huskers pick up an FCS game in their place.
Tanner said the financial terms were similar to or exactly the same as what USC would’ve paid out to Marshall. The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington reported that figure was $1.4 million.
He noted the SEC has insurance so South Carolina would have been made whole had it not rescheduled, and Marshall has the same from Conference USA. (South Carolina took financial hits with moving the 2015 LSU game and 2016 Georgia game.)
Marshall remains in the thick of a division title race.
“From a financial standpoint, there was no collateral damage for anyone,” Tanner said, “which was really nice.
“It wasn’t a financial decision, it was an opponent decision.”
Tanner credited Deputy AD Charles Waddell for an early conversation with Akron that started things. Marshall had always been an ideal opponent if it could be worked out, but the Herd’s availability remained in question.
Tanner also pointed out the other teams with canceled games are also talking to each other, trying to get something worked out and not get left high and dry.
Muschamp got his start as a graduate assistant under current Zips coach Terry Bowden.
South Carolina could’ve waited, rolled things out on a different timeline or perhaps kept shopping for an opponent, but Tanner fell back on an old approach as he tried to get the deal done.
“We all have faults,” Tanner said. “I tend to make quick decisions, my background, as a former coach, you don’t get a chance to study things for two to three weeks to make a decision. I wanted to get it out of the way. I really did. It bothered me day-to-day.”