USC Coaching Search Updates 12-02-08

The abrupt departures of John Hunt and David Reaves from South Carolina has the Gamecocks on the hunt for new assistant football coaches to take their places. Who would be the best upgrade to solve the O-line woes that have plagued USC during the Spurrier era? Will they hire a new QB or WR coach? Read inside for the latest on the chances and evaluations of emerging candidates for those positions.

JJ and I are both hearing more noise about Vanderbilt's Robbie Caldwell as a candidate to replace John Hunt than anybody else at this point, but he is definitely not the only candidate. Remember, Caldwell agreed to come to South Carolina as a member of Lou Holtz's staff a few years ago, only to return to Nashville after only a day here. At the time, he cited wanting to be loyal to Vanderbilt Head Coach Bobby Johnson as his reason for returning to Nashville.

You would think that Vandy fans would be happy to be going to their first bowl in 24 years under Johnson. Instead, they are furious over losing 5 of their last six games, and are loudly calling for Johnson's head. If they think that a better coach would want to come in and replace Johnson…

Caldwell is a South Carolina native from Pageland, and is well-respected and liked among the coaching community. He is known for both his ability as someone who can evaluate and develop talent, so he would be an excellent addition to the staff as both a coach and a recruiter. Caldwell has ties to USC AD Eric Hyman from their days together at Furman.

Another very strong candidate for the job would be current Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall. His job at Auburn is very tenuous at this time. His boss Tommy Tuberville's job status is of course in doubt as well. My sources told me that they expect TT to remain at Auburn. He met with Auburn's president yesterday, and had a four hour meeting today with their AD, and still has his job after both meetings.

Nall's job may still be in doubt if Tuberville stays, because their as yet unnamed new offensive coordinator will have a say in whether Nall stays or goes. The Auburn offensive line was simply put a disaster this year, and Nall has been an Auburn fan favorite for Bronx cheers, to put it mildly.

To be fair, you have to look at Nall's entire body of work at Auburn, and he comes off very well on close examination. This season Nall was asked to take players recruited for their old-school system and instantly turn them into a spread offense line, and it didn't work. It didn't work for the offense at large, not just the line, as testified by the mid-season firing of their offensive coordinator Tony Franklin.

Nall was the starting center for Georgia during the Herschel Walker years, and has recruited Georgia for Auburn, covering a lot of the same territory that Hunt covered for USC in the Peach state. Hunt was responsible for the mid to coastal areas of Georgia; as well as parts of Florida, including the greater Orlando area and the Space Coast.

Nall came to Auburn as part of Tuberville's original staff there in 1999. He came with TT from Ole Miss, where he also coached the offensive line for four years from 95-98, and had seven years coaching experience before that. He has put a lot of players in the NFL, and has coached seven All-SEC players at Auburn. He is a good recruiter as well. Three of his players were named to the All-SEC freshman team last season.

My sources tell me that Nall knows how to make players excellent blockers. I was asked "and what more do you want from an O-line coach?" He is respected by his players, and is a "hard-nosed, old school kind of coach". His lines are best known for their ability to make lanes for the running game. The Tony Franklin spread is not his style.

Nall also coached at Texas Christian, whose current o-line coach Eddie Williamson is also rumored to be interested in the job. He coached with Spurrier at Duke. I am working to confirm how much interest USC has in Williamson and vice versa.

I am told that though likely, moving Steve Spurrier Jr. from receivers coach to quarterbacks coach is not yet 100%, but is dependent on who else is brought in. They want to get the best coach available, and being able to look at coaches who coach different positions obviously increases their options.

One name thrown out there by other sources is Miami's receivers coach Aubrey Hill, but I was told today that Hill, a Miami native, has little interest in the position.

Another name being floated out there is Mississippi State's Pat Washington, who also spent time coaching at Tennessee. My sources are unflattering in their assessment of Washington as a recruiter. He is said to be out recruiting for MSU right now, but understandably doing more job hunting than recruiting. I should have more info on Washington soon.

Stay tuned to for the latest in recruiting news - whether it be for coaches or players!

To discuss this article, visit GamecockAnthem's premium forum - The Golden Spur.

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories