It was a crazy week of news in the sports world. From the dismissal of Steve Sarkisian at USC and his admission into rehab for an apparent alcohol problem to Florida’s Will Grier’s one-year suspension for the use of PED’s to the tragic news of former NBA star Lamar Odom being found unconscious at a brothel in Nevada. As of Friday morning, Odom is currently fighting for his life after an apparent overdose of cocaine and herbal Viagra, which was preceded by days of partying.
The biggest news of the week though is the news out of Columbia where we learned late Monday night that Steve Spurrier was stepping down immediately as the head coach of the Gamecocks and Offensive Line Coach Shawn Elliot would be taking over in his absence.
I’ve heard people say it was such a shock but I don’t know what they’ve been watching the past year. It was clear last season that the lights were beginning to dim on his party in Columbia. We all knew that it was coming eventually and I wrote just last week how it was likely coming at the end of the season. I never expected it would come just days later and would be officially over before finishing out the 2015 campaign, but here we are.
While I get his angle of moving out of the way to let South Carolina also move forward with a search and not damage recruiting any further, I think with all that has happened this season and the tragic flooding that devastated the city, he could have at least stuck it out six more games and not—for lack of better words—quit on the team. Not to say that he owes South Carolina anything, but c’mon man. Do the right thing.
Some have been critical of how fans have spoke of Spurrier calling him a quitter, sore loser, etc. and that he deserves more respect. Sure, Spurrier is a legend and a top 10 coach of all time when it comes to college football. If there were a Mount Rushmore of college football coaches, he’d have to be included. Make no mistake about it.
His track record speaks for itself and you can’t take any of that away from the guy who was a Heisman winner as a player and one of the best to ever roam the sidelines in Durham, Gainesville and Columbia. (I’ll give him a free pass on that dumpster fire at the Washington Redskins for two years)
However, lets not forget how Spurrier loved to take shots and his opponents and rivals. From the “You can’t spell Citrus without UT” to the “FSU stands for Free Shoes University”. Most recently he’s been known for taking shots at his rivals Georgia, Clemson and Tennessee. The fact of the matter is all three got the last laugh and beat him in his last game as the Gamecock’s head coach in Columbia.
I say that to say this: there’s a saying I heard once that goes “don’t dish it out if out can’t take it. “ Now I want to be clear that this isn’t a reflection so much of Spurrier himself as I’ve yet to hear him complain about the fallout from his abrupt retirement--oh I mean resignation. But for all that he’s dished out to his “enemies”—the ones he created himself, throughout the years and the very ones he discussed in a special-called press conference earlier this year—he is finally getting some of that thrown back at him.
I doubt that he cares personally, but it seems this was not a health related decision but sore loser related decision so therefore, he deserves to take a little beating from his “enemies” for jumping ship midway through the season with a 2-4 record.
Spurrier said in the press conference “I had hoped to call it quits walking out of the Georgia dome on the shoulders of the players, but that just didn’t work out.”
Those calling Spurrier a quitter and sore loser have a point. I mean lets be serious, despite the bad start, had South Carolina beaten either LSU or Georgia and not stunk it up at home against Kentucky (I called that one from a mile away, for the record) are we having this conversation today? My guess is probably not. Maybe he makes the announcement but at least finishes the year but who knows.
The HBC made a big scene earlier his summer about how he was planning on coaching a few more years but now all of the sudden at 2-4 he’s out like a light when you forgot to pay your electric bill. Some have said that maybe this was all a mutual decision but judging from the press conference I’m not so sure South Carolina would have even fired the HBC at season’s end.
Both Athletic Director Ray Tanner and President of the college, Harris Pastides, appeared to be sad that the HBC was stepping away. Tanner even choked up briefly during his address at the press conference held Tuesday morning. Despite the rocky season, they know that have a tall task ahead of them finding a new head coach and replacing the school’s winningest coach will be difficult to say the least.
It’s unfortunate that one of the best had to go out on a losing record but for all the years he poked fun at his opponents, ran up the score and dropped witty one-liners, I think I speak for most Clemson, UGA, FSU, Tennessee fans alike when I say that I certainly didn’t shed any tears watching the past two seasons not go so well for the HBC.
He came to Carolina and beat my Tigers five years in a row talking trash the entire way…it’s a rivalry, I get it…so I also have no shame in saying watching him lose in non-Spurrier fashion the last year or so has been amusing.
Spurrier is a legend—a legend that lacked a bit of class at times—but a legend nonetheless. As an avid college football fan and sports reporter, I hope to one day meet him. As a Clemson fan, I do not like him very much but I’m intelligent enough to acknowledge how much of a football genius he is.
He mentioned in his presser that he would consider coaching at the high school level in the future. I don’t follow high school football in SC as much anymore now that I’m in Tennessee but if I’m an high school athletic director in the Columbia area, (where the HBC and his wife, Jerri, intend on staying around for a while) I’m giving Steve a call this summer.
It will be weird to not have him coaching moving forward but it’s pretty nice to know that he won’t be far. He’ll be on ESPN College Gameday Saturday and could very well find a permanent spot in front of the camera if he so chooses. That would be fun. Maybe he can replace Lee Corso…aren’t we all getting tired of him?
Now we wait to see who will take over next season. I would imagine Shawn Elliot has a great shot at this job. But I think they will look outside of house and do a national search. Chip Kelly, Kirby Smart, Tom Herman and Lane Kiffin among others have been thrown out as possibilities.
I hope and pray that they pursue Kiffin. It’s so crazy that it might just be a good fit. Either way, it’d be fun to see what he could do in Columbia assuming he does indeed leave Tuscaloosa at season’s end.