Well, South Carolina finally chose its replacement for Ellis Johnson. They promoted from within and chose Lorenzo Ward, who was the defensive backs coach for the team.
Now, in Gamecock land, there seems to be three very different trains of thought about this hire. The fanbase is truly divided by this. What are the three different camps involving the Ward hire?
Let's take a look.
1. Great hire!
If you take away the name and look just at the resume, Lorenzo Ward looks like a fine hire. He's coached in the NFL, worked on great defenses in Virginia Tech, and worked with SEC defenses at Arkansas and South Carolina.
He was a staff member on the No. 4 ranked defense in the country in 2011, also one of the perennial defensive powers in the SEC.
He learned under one of the best defensive coordinators in America (Johnson), and will retain the same defensive structure that made the Gamecocks so successful in 2011.
He is also one of the Gamecocks' top recruiters. Retaining him was an offseason priority. Plus, Steve Spurrier knows a little something about hiring great coordinators.
2. Terrible hire. Hello 6-6.
South Carolina is an SEC team with an elite defense. You have players like Jadeveon Clowney, Devin Taylor, Stephon Gilmore and others on this team.
You have one of the big-name defensive coaches in the country in Mike Stoops practically salivating for the job, and the best we can do is promote our no-name defensive backs coach?
True, he has worked with some solid defenses, but the defensive backs have consistently been scorched—his area was the weakness! People were calling for his head last season, and now he is the assistant coach and defensive coordinator?
Johnson was a big reason for the Gamecocks' success. He's gone now, and the replacement is someone who lacks the resume for the position. This program just took a huge step backwards.
3. Step off the ledge—it's way too early to tell.
Here is the camp that I am fully entrenched in. I don't love the hire. I don't hate the hire.
I trust Steve Spurrier and know that he did his due diligence in making this hire. Lorenzo Ward has been around the system and has the players to be successful.
This has worked before with Kirby Smart in Alabama, and Charlie Strong many years ago at South Carolina. It can work out well.
If it fails, does it put the Gamecocks back? Absolutely.
However, there is no guarantee that Mike Stoops or any other big-name defensive mind would succeed.
Look at Charlie Weis in Florida—he was an offensive genius and a huge name. He came to the Gators and suddenly the Florida offense was as good as my high school JV team.
Let's give Ward a season or two to shake things out. He could be the coach these players need to get fired up.