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Texas A&M Hires Eric Hyman; South Carolina Looking for AD

Eric Hyman is headed to College Station as the Aggies head to the SEC.
Eric Hyman is headed to College Station as the Aggies head to the SEC.

Who said there wouldn't be a natural rivalry between Texas A&M and South Carolina?

The Aggies are set to introduce themselves to the SEC with an athletics director from another conference member, hiring Gamecocks AD Eric Hyman for the position vacated by Bill Byrne, who was never all that eager to go to the SEC in the first place. Confirmations are now coming from Columbia that Hyman has indeed left South Carolina.

The move makes sense for both Hyman and A&M. Hyman used to be athletics director at TCU, and all of his children live in Fort Worth. Texas A&M gets someone who understands the SEC and is regarded as one of the better athletics directors in the country -- this is not the first time Hyman has been connected to a job search.

His legacy as South Carolina is largely, though not exclusively, positive. He hired Darrin Horn to coach the men's basketball team -- a mistake that cost the team several years before Hyman corrected things by hiring Frank Martin. The hiring of Dawn Staley for women's basketball has been a clear-cut success; she took the program to the Sweet Sixteen last season as part of a steady upward trajectory.

Hyman has also overseen a significant boost to the facilities in Columbia. But he's arguably had marginal impact on the two programs that will define his tenure: Steve Spurrier and baseball head coach Ray Tanner were already on campus when Hyman arrived. The facilities improvements have helped both, no doubt, but Hyman will leave Columbia having never hired a coach for either of the campus' two highest-profile programs.

Which perhaps magnifies the importance of the next athletics director for South Carolina. Steve Spurrier is not going to be around forever -- five years is probably the longest South Carolina fans can expect, with three or four being more likely. It is a near-certainty that the next athletics director will select the head coach who will either solidify the gains Spurrier has made or potentially lead the program right back where it was.

A couple of names that aren't likely to gain much traction with fans are already floating around. Tanner has long been thought to be interested in administration, and this could be his opportunity. The postseason streak is over and a ready-made successor is ready in Chad Holbrook, who is head-coach-in-waiting in all but name. Before going to an outsider who hasn't been at South Carolina during Hyman's tenure, why not select someone with a track record of success who saw the last guy's impressive work up-close?