College Sports

What’s the value of a spring game? Will Muschamp weighs in

Muschamp offers spring assessment, shares his message to team for offseason

What South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp learned about the Gamecocks this spring.
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What South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp learned about the Gamecocks this spring.

More than a few college football spring games have run into trouble this year.

A thin roster canceled TCU’s. Weather zapped the Iowa State and North Texas games. Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst turned his into an open practice and canceled one at Pitt a few years ago.

South Carolina’s had a listed attendance just under 26,000. On a warm Saturday afternoon, the home side of the lower bowl was mostly full, with a more sporadic crowd on the visiting side.

Will Muschamp likes to have his game earlier than most, with barely a two-month gap between bowl and spring practice. His main reason for that seems to run alongside the best reason for a spring game at all.

“No. 1, it’s about recruiting,” Muschamp said in an interview with 107.5 The Game. “It’s about getting all those guys on campus, and we’re not competing with 10 other schools on one Saturday. And we had a great crowd Saturday as far as recruiting was concerned. We had a great turnout. A bunch of really good players were here.”

The Gamecocks were competing with Clemson and managed to win the attendance of five-star recruit Jordan Burch. There was some sense he favored the Tigers, but he spent the past three weekends in Columbia.

It was also a spring game that served as a weekend the Gamecocks hosted Ryan Hilinski in 2018. Soon after, he committed, giving USC a top-50 prospect in the 2019 class.

The earlier game also gives one other edge in preparation for the season.

“If there is an injury, I’ve got another month before the season starts for a player to be able to get back and perform in the fall,” Muschamp said.

He noted that there’s a challenge when it comes to spring in the state. Practice ends fewer than five weeks from the end of the academic semester. To complicate that, the warm weather means more is happening around town.

“There’s no good spring weekend in Columbia, South Carolina,” Muschamp said. “They have some golf tournament called The Masters. They protest if I have it that weekend. We’ve got the Carolina Cup. There’s so much going on in Columbia, and that’s a great thing to have.”

Spring game attendance is a somewhat silly topic, but in some communities, they become big-time events. Last season, 10 schools claimed crowds of 48,000 or more, five in the SEC, led by Georgia’s 82,184.

South Carolina had some folks outside the stadium, enough for a decent crowd around the Gamecock Walk, but there wasn’t a ton of buzz.

That said, Muschamp explained his staff is always assessing what their program does, and has an outlook on the timing of the spring game.

“It’s working well for us right now,” Muschamp said.

South Carolina's Jay Urich -- a quarterback -- talks about starring in the spring game as a receiver.