On Tuesday, South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner shot down rumors that Houston's Tom Herman had reached an agreement to be his next football coach. One day later, a familiar frontrunner had reportedly jumped back to the top of the Gamecocks' wish list.
Fox Sports analyst Bruce Feldman reported Wednesday that Alabama assistant Kirby Smart is South Carolina's top choice to fill the coaching position that Steve Spurrier vacated on Oct. 13.
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has emerged as the frontrunner for the South Carolina head coaching vacancy, a source told FOX Sports.
Smart has a laundry list of accomplishments under his belt despite being just 39 years old. He coached at powerhouse programs like LSU, Georgia and Florida State before settling in as defensive coordinator with the Crimson Tide in 2008. He earned the Broyles Award, which honors the nation's top assistant coach, in just his second season in Tuscaloosa. His teams have only ranked outside the top five in FBS total defense once in his eight-year tenure -- an 11th-place showing in 2014. In that span, he's won three national titles and four SEC West banners. Alabama is currently third in the nation after allowing just 265 yards per game this fall.
That kind of performance has made him a hot commodity for programs with a void of leadership at the top. In 2011, his name popped up in coaching rumors for the Ole Miss head coaching job that eventually went to Hugh Freeze. He was rumored to be one of the candidates who would take over for Derek Dooley at Tennessee one year later. He was also mentioned as a possible Joker Phillips replacement at Kentucky and as Auburn's answer to the malaise that Gene Chizik brought on two seasons after winning a national title. It's possible that every SEC post with a coaching vacancy since 2010 has at least had a serious discussion about bringing Smart on board.
This isn't the first time that Smart has been linked to the Gamecock opening. Oddsmakers made him the favorite for the job back when it first became available. Now, it's South Carolina's turn to consider making one of the nation's most esteemed defensive minds their new head coach.
For a comprehensive breakdown of the Gamecocks' coaching search, check out Garnet and Black Attack's dedicated coaching tracker.