With the retirement of Steve Spurrier, head coaches across the country are lining up their resumes to land a dream job in the SEC with South Carolina. One such candidate mentioned in these conversations is Chad Morris, the current head coach of the SMU Mustangs and former offensive coordinator at Clemson, the vaunted in state rival of the Gamecocks.
While Morris’ enthusiasm as the face of SMU’s football turnaround and his familiarity with recruiting top talent to the state of South Carolina makes him an obvious candidate for the job, I’d like to put these rumors to bed immediately. Chad Morris is not leaving SMU after just one year
The primary reason Morris will stay on the Hilltop is purely economic. The Mustangs’ head coach has three years remaining on his contact, worth $2 million per year. Some quick math reveals that it would take a $6 million buyout from South Carolina to SMU in order to secure Morris’ services, more than any coach in the FBS makes yearly besides Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh. At that price, any school would get rid of their coach in a heartbeat.
It appears even more ridiculous when considering Morris’ competition for the South Carolina position, even in his own conference. The three undefeated teams in the AAC, Temple, Memphis, and Houston, each have an up and coming coach that would likely jump at the opportunity to move to South Carolina. The priciest of these candidates, Houston’s Tom Herman, makes $1.45 million per year, far below Morris’ price tag for a coach with a more successful resume.
Additionally, beyond the economics of the situation, Chad Morris has a 1-5 record as a head coach in the FBS. While he’s restored optimism in the SMU program during his first few months on the job, lost to teams with a combined record of 30-3, and didn’t exactly start with an All-American level of talent, it’s hard to justify an SEC program hiring a coach with such a poor record.
However, perhaps the most powerful draw of all for Chad Morris is the opportunity to coach in Texas. Football in Texas is religion, and success is rewarded with immortality. Ask SMU fans about Ron Meyer, or Texas fans about Mack Brown. Look at what Gary Patterson has built at TCU or what Art Briles has created with Baylor. Chad Morris wants to be in that club, and that club doesn’t exist in South Carolina.
I’ve written numerous times about the incredible work Chad Morris has done to restore a sense of optimism around SMU football, and despite the team’s record, the turnaround has been truly incredible. Morris took a team that was unequivocally the worst team in the FBS last season and brought them to competitiveness with some of the best teams in the country. No coach in the country can claim that level of improvement.
However, the facts remain that the Mustangs are 1-5 and lost to an FCS team at home already this season, two very unbecoming blemishes on Morris’ record. In contrast, teams like Memphis, Temple, and Houston have beaten Power 5 teams and worked their way into the Top 25. The Mustangs can’t even crack the top half of their AAC division.
While Chad Morris’ work at SMU thus far has been nothing short of incredible, it remains unfinished, and does not qualify him to make a big time move to USC. Mustangs’ fans may have to one day prepare for Morris to leave for a high profile job, that time is not now. SMU fans can prepare to have Chad Morris on the Mustangs’ sideline for the foreseeable future.