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Spurrier Still Has Deep Feelings For Carolina, SEC

Spurrier Still Has Deep Feelings For Carolina, SEC

Chris Fernsler Sports Writer

On the surface it looks as though Steve Spurrier’s inseason resignation at the University of South Carolina was ill-timed and inappropriate. It was.

But the head ball coach insists he quit for the good of the Gamecock football program. From Spurrier’s perspective, South Carolina was getting worse, not better. The Gamecock players were no longer responding to Spurrier’s coaching style. The Southeastern Conference legend and the college football innovator thought long and hard about this decision, and Spurrier does have mixed feelings about leaving the Gamecocks with six games still to go in the season.

Spurrier concludes that this is the right thing for the Gameocks and him. Spurrier does leave with fond memories of the Gamecocks, along with his 86 wins and 44 SEC victories during his 11-year reign in Columbia. Spurrier is the all-time winningest football coach in South Carolina history.

The head ball coach worked hard for that.

Under Spurrier the Gamecocks played in nine bowl games. They won the 2010 SEC Eastern Division championship. South Carolina and Spurrier won 33 games in a three-year span from 2011-13. The head ball coach put the Gamecocks on the football map with a No. 9 national ranking in 2011, a No. 8 national ranking in 2012 and a No. 4 ranking at the end of the 2013 season.

The head ball coach earned his millions.

Spurrier has increased the football expectations at South Carolina. The Gamecocks competed at a high level for the head ball coach, but not so much during the last two years. South Carolina was just 9-10 with Spurrier during the last two seasons. And nobody hates losing more than Steven Orr Spurrier, who was a two-time All-American quarterback at Florida (in 1965-66) and a three-sport All-State player back in his high school days at Science Hill in Johnson City, Tenn.

Spurrier is the ultimate competitor, and he’s an avid golfer. He is a winner, but this season he coached a South Carolina football team that had lost four out of its last five games. Spurrier came to the conclusion that he was no longer the best answer for Gamecock football. That is why he resigned on Monday, and he doesn’t feel good about exiting the South Carolina program with some games still on the schedule.

Spurrier, the 1966 Heisman Trophy winner, fully expected to have a winning season this year, but he has always been an optimist. Most football experts felt like the Gamecocks were headed for some hard times with a young and inexperienced roster this season.

The head ball coach leaves behind a South Carolina team with a 2-4 record and an 0-4 mark in the SEC. The only Gamecock wins this year have been over North Carolina and Central Florida. South Carolina offensive line coach and cooffensive coordinator Shawn Elliott will serve as the South Carolina interim head coach for the rest of the season. As for Spurrier, he hinted at possibly coaching again, maybe even as a college assistant or even at the high school level. He still has a coaching itch.

Spurrier is always full of surprises. The Gamecocks know that all too well.

During his career the head ball coach has also worked his X’s and O’s at Georgia Tech as an assistant coach under Pepper Rodgers, along with stints at Duke and Florida. The Duke Blue Devils won the 1989 ACC championship with Spurrier running the program.

But Spurrier’s greatest football success as a head coach came during his 12year run at Florida from 1990-2001. The head ball coach and the University of Florida graduate led the Gators to heights that they had only dreamed of. It was magical with an orange and blue tint.

Spurrier built a national powerhouse in Gainesville. He recruited hard, and he turned the SEC upside down with his pass happy offense. Blowout wins over LSU, Auburn and Georgia became the norm in Gatorland as Florida won six SEC titles under Spurrier. Florida was the kingpin with seven Eastern Division championships and four straight SEC titles from 1993-96.

In Florida’s blitzkrieg offense the passing game came first and the running game came second. Spurrier was the most popular man in Gainesville, and he was hated in Baton Rouge, Knoxville, Athens, Auburn and Lexington.

But that was then. Spurrier is 70 years old now, and he is beloved in all SEC locales, even Columbia, S.C. Steve Spurrier’s college football legacy is intact, and why shouldn’t it be? Spurrier changed the face of the SEC in his 23 years as a head coach in this league.

The head ball coach is taking some extreme heat for his in-season resignation earlier this week at South Carolina, but that will pass. College football and the SEC have been a lot more fun with Spurrier tossing his visor, winning games with flair and posting a 208-761 record at Florida and South Carolina.

It’s been a great run for Steven Orr Spurrier, who most definitely wants to coach again. Football is in his blood. Spurrier is already drawing up a new play in the dirt.

The man is an SEC original and most certainly an icon.