The era of Kurt Roper that South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp often defended and the Gamecock fans often lashed out is over.
"After much deliberation, I decided to go in a different direction with the position of offensive coordinator for our football team," Head Coach Will Muschamp said in a statement Wednesday morning. "We appreciate Kurt's contributions to our program and the University and we wish him all the best."
Muschamp statement – which stated that it "freed offensive coordinator / quarterback coach Kurt Roper from his duties immediately" – put to bed a week of speculation about Roper's work status. As recently as Sunday, Muschamp said he expected Roper to call South Carolina plays in the Outback Bowl on January 1. Instead, that will be done by wide receiver Bryan McClendon, the statement said on Wednesday. McClendon has shared the title of coordinator of the offensive with Roper since both were hired two seasons ago.
"I'm not going to go into speculation and sources said and business like that, right now, he's our offensive coordinator and that's all I know," Muschamp said Sunday.
Muschamp added at the time that he expected more from the Gamecocks offense.
"We have to be more productive offensively," he said. "There's no doubt about that, and that's the first thing (Roper) I would also tell you."
Roper could not be reached immediately to make comments. His full-time replacement will not be named until after the bowl game.
"We have a very competent offensive staff and a competent offensive coordinator, and those guys do a good job," he said in early October. "We have to be more productive." They do not disagree. They think we need to be more productive, and they're working tirelessly to make sure that happens. "
Roper spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator for Muschamp, including the last two in South Carolina.The association produced many praises from Muschamp to Roper but Little offensive success.
The Gamecocks finished 2016 last in the SEC in scoring (20.8 ppg) and 13th in total offense (347.5 ypg) .However, things were supposed to improve this season with Jake Bentley, more experienced, as quarterback and offensive staff such as Deebo Samuel, Hayden Hurst and Bryan Edwards in their second year in the Roper system.
There were improvements, but it was slight, South Carolina currently ranks 12th in the SEC in scoring (24.1 ppg) and total offense (340.2), and the Gamecocks finished the regular season with a record of 8-4 despite their offensive numbers, and not by them, which had been the expectation of etemporada
South Carolina entered the season with an offensive fanfare thanks to the experience of second-year quarterback Jake Bentley and skill position players such as wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards, tight end Hayden Hurst and the Rico Dowdle runner.
The season started well behind a torrid start for Samuel, who had 474 total yards and six touchdowns before losing for the season due to a broken leg in the third quarter of the third game of the year. The Gamecocks averaged 33 points in the two games Samuel started and completed, but they scored more than 30 in just two more SEC games, including one in which they scored three defensive touchdowns.
Dowdle would later suffer an injury that would end the season and three starters. The offensive linemen also lost a lot of time with injuries, and South Carolina never managed to build any offensive pace in the last 10 games of the year. During the season, Muschamp defended Roper when the issue arose.
Muschamp will now look for his fourth offensive coordinator in his six seasons as head coach. First he hired Roper de Duke, where Roper served as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for David Cutcliffe from 2008-2013. Prior to that, Roper was an assistant coach in Tennessee, Kentucky and Ole Miss.
The Gators finished eighth in the SEC in scoring (30.3 points per game) and 12 in total offense (376.6 points per game) in that season, and Muschamp said at the time he thought he had hired Roper as their first coordinator offensive in Florida so they would not have fired him from that job.
The Gators never finished better than the tenth in the SEC in total offense in the first three seasons of Muschamp as head coach, during which time Charlie Weis and Brent Pease were their offensive coordinators.