COLUMBIA, S.C. -- With 12 new head coaches at BCS schools for 2012 (excluding Arkansas), not to mention a number of coordinator moves, it's no wonder that some have been lost in the shuffle.
For instance, you might have missed that South Carolina, third in 2011 in total defense (267.7 yards a game) behind only Alabama and LSU, has a new defensive coordinator. Sort of.
Technically, Lorenzo Ward held the title the past couple of seasons. But he reported to Ellis Johnson, who unofficially served as the head coach in charge of defense. (Steve Spurrier doesn't mess with the defensive side of the ball, really. Never has.) Johnson left after the 2011 regular season to become the head coach of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.
Spurrier initially kicked the tires on Mike Stoops, who would have qualified as a much higher-profile hire, but Stoops -- the younger brother of Bob, Spurrier's former defensive coordinator at Florida -- was already in position to return to Oklahoma. Additionally, Ward felt he had earned the job. Some believe that he would have left the school if the job had gone to someone else. But that hypothetical never happened because Spurrier promoted Ward before the Capital One Bowl win against Nebraska.
Vaulting Ward could be very important for the Gamecocks, again contenders in the SEC East -- and it qualifies as just one of several under-the-radar but critical coordinator changes heading into the 2012 season.
To read more on South Carolina's defensive changes, in addition to four other under-the-radar coordinator changes that will have a major impact in 2012, become an ESPN Insider today.