EYES TURN TO FUTURE OF SOUTH CAROLINA FOOTBALL …
By FITSNEWS || No, no, no, no … this is not one of those posts. There is no evidence University of South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier has any intention of retiring anytime soon … nor is there any evidence his son, Gamecock recruiting coordinator, co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. is the program’s “coach in waiting.”
And no … this discussion has nothing to do with the fact the Gamecock football team is off to its worst start in six years, and unranked for the first time in four years. Or that this rapid descent was punctuated last weekend by an inexcusable 21-20 loss to Missouri in which the head ball coach’s legendary offensive genius seemed to be in short supply.
Or totally out of stock, to put it accurately (no pun intended) …
But we’re not going to “go there.”
This website tried to run Spurrier out of town on a rail following the 2009 season – and with good reason (or so we thought at the time). The Gamecock program appeared to be going nowhere fast – losing a bowl game named for a pizza delivery website to a team from the now-defunct Big East. Spurrier was 35-28 overall at the time, with a losing record against SEC competition.
We challenged Spurrier to win games … and he responded. From 2010-13, his Gamecock teams went 42-11 – with one SEC East championship followed by three consecutive 11-win seasons as well as three straight Top Ten finishes and New Year’s Day bowl victories. The Gamecocks finished the 2013 season ranked No. 4 in the nation – a school record – and up until last weekend’s debacle had been ranked in the Top 25 for sixty-nine consecutive polls, also a school record.
Not only that Spurrier has reeled off five consecutive victories over South Carolina’s arch-rival Clemson – and done so at a time when the Tigers have also been among the nation’s elite programs.
Prior to Spurrier’s arrival, South Carolina had won ten games just once in more than a century of football – and had never finished a season ranked in the Top Ten.
Simply put, he turned around a program many felt would never be successful … and he did it based on successful in-state recruiting.
Since 2011, South Carolina’s top recruiter has been his son, Spurrier Jr. – who like his father is in his tenth season in Columbia, S.C.
Prior to joining the Gamecocks, Spurrier Jr. coached alongside his dad for two years with the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. Before that he spent three seasons as the wide receivers coach at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops – helping lead the 2000 Sooners team to a national championship.
The 42-year-old Palo Alto, California native has grown up around the game – and played college football at Duke, where he earned his bachelor’s degree (prior to earning a master’s degree at Florida).
So … is “HBC Lite” ready to take the reins of the program his father built into a contender? And if so, will he get that chance? And if so … when?
Both Spurriers have gone out of their way to downplay the speculation that the Gamecock job could stay “in the family” when the elder Spurrier decides to retire.
“That’s certainly a question I won’t answer,” Spurrier Jr. told Bleacher Report‘s Charles Bennett back in May. “It’s something I don’t worry about, something I’m not talking about, something I’m not politicking for. I don’t want to have a comment either way about that.”
“Whenever my father does decide to retire it’s going to be an excellent job, a wonderful opportunity,” he added. “We’re going to have good players. We’re going to have some momentum versus a lot of teams we play. Whenever that day comes, it will be a good job. I’ll talk about whatever I’ve got to talk about when that happens.”
Meanwhile Spurrier, 69, has said publicly he wants no role in the decision-making process – going so far as to imply that his involvement would be inappropriate.
“I would have no input whatsoever on who follows me here at South Carolina,” Spurrier told Bennett in February. “I have never thought a head coach should even make suggestions. We have two men here very capable, (athletics director) Ray Tanner and (University president) Harris Pastides. The athletic director and the president, they make the call.”
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we think Spurrier will continue to pace the Gamecock sidelines for the next two or three seasons. He clearly hasn’t lost his competitive streak, he remains in excellent health and given his success over the last four years the job is obviously his for as long as he wants it.
There may be some adjustments on his coaching staff assuming the 2014 season continues its middling trajectory, but Spurrier isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
As for his eventual replacement? It’s clear Spurrier Jr. will be a big part of that conversation – and based on his success recruiting over the next few years, it’s also clear he will have a major impact in determining the trajectory of the program when that day does come.