One of the greatest coaches (and most entertaining ones), Steve Spurrier has resigned as ‘head ball coach’ at South Carolina effective immediately. Co-offensive coordinator, to Spurrier, Shawn Elliott was introduced as interim head coach and will lead the Gamecocks through the second half of the season starting with Saturday afternoon at home against Vanderbilt.
South Carolina entered 2014 in the top-10 and with national title aspirations. Those were dashed on opening night with a resounding home loss to Texas A&M. The defense could not stand up, and the team descended to a 7-6 season. No one was completely sure what to expect in 2015, changes to the defensive coaching staff brought hope. A strong 17-13 win over a good North Carolina team on opening night made you think a better season was in the offing. But injuries at the quarterback position, one already not up to Spurrier standards, started a downward spiral that sees Carolina 0-4 in the SEC. Recruiting has suffered in the past couple of years, with negative recruiting from other schools soaring—all being detrimental to Spurrier.
Retirement rumors persisted throughout the offseason but Spurrier was defiant at Media Days. But pressure has mounted with the Gamecocks barely even being competitive in league play. Since the North Carolina win, only a struggle over winless Central Florida has added to the win total. A shocking home loss to Kentucky, scheduled road losses at Georgia and Missouri, and the unscheduled road loss at LSU, all contributed to an untenable position for Spurrier.
It is a sad end to a wonderful career. Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy as quarterback at Florida in 1966. It was a hit-and-miss NFL career but one overall that has to be a success. He coached the Tampa Bay Bandits in the fledgling USFL, a job Spurrier always credited with teaching him a lot about coaching. Then he went to Duke, a school with little to no success in football. His only losing season was his first at Duke in 1987. He led them to a share of the ACC championship in 1989 and won 20 games there—then the revolution he started at Florida.
Florida football was nowhere, and dealing with harsh NCAA probation. In 1990 they finished first in the SEC but could not claim the title; in 1991 they did claim the title and then with expansion, played in the first five SEC Championship games winning four in a row from 1993-96. Florida played for the national championship in ’95 losing to Nebraska, then won the title a year later routing rival Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. He left for the NFL in 2002, coaching Washington to a 12-20 record. His heart was in college football.
He succeeded Lou Holtz at South Carolina and built the Gamecocks into a force. He won 86 games in 10 ½ seasons. They won the SEC East in 2010 and followed that up with three consecutive 11-win seasons before the slide in 2014.
Overall he was 228-89-2 as a college coach. But he will be just as remembered for his style which was really, no style at all. If it was on his mind he said it. If it upset you, that was not his problem. But you will find that every tongue-in-cheek comment and every verbal jab taken, always had truth to it the other side may not have wanted to face. He was brash, honest and successful, as great a coach as the SEC or college football, has ever seen.