By Jake Crouse, Copy Editor
As floodwaters began to retreat in Columbia, S.C., University of South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier decided to follow the current out. In the middle of his eleventh season with the Gamecocks, the “Head Ball Coach” has decided to resign effective immediately.
The announcement came last Tuesday at a press conference in which Spurrier balanced light-hearted nostalgia with dejection of his recent record. So far this season, the Gamecocks have posted a 2-4 record with no wins in the SEC, an unprecedented feat in Spurrier’s 23-year coaching history in the conference.
To say that this season defines his coaching ability, though, underscores much of his accomplishments with the university. Spurrier holds the most wins of any USC head coach, simultaneously holding most wins at the University of Florida, one of which earned him a national championship with the Gators. The only other coach to hold the most wins record at two SEC schools is legendary coach Bear Bryant (Alabama and Kentucky).
But even after his impressive record with the Gamecocks football program, including five consecutive wins over rival Clemson University and an SEC Championship bid in 2010, Spurrier felt it was time to give the university a new face.
“I was the best coach for this job 11 years ago, but I’m not today,” Spurrier remarked at the press conference.
Past his doubts about being able to get the team on a winning route, he also fears that sticking around at his age with a declining record may look bad for the program in general. He even referred to himself as a “recruiting liability” for the Gamecocks if he were to continue as head coach.
After the announcement, former offensive line coach Shawn Elliott immediately was named as interim head coach. By Tuesday evening’s practice, Elliot was blasting music from the loudspeakers – Guns N’Roses, DMX, Kanye West.
“[The music] keeps us rolling” senior offensive tackle Brandon Shell said. “When you hear that music, it keeps you upbeat.”
Elliott isn’t just boosting the volume, though. The hyped workout environment is just one step in his plan to increase team morale and turn the mindset away from the current 2-4 record.
“In his opinion we’re 0-0,” redshirt junior linebacker T.J. Holloman during his first practice with Elliott. “We’re just out here to get better and beat Vandy.”
And beat them they did. In front of a home crowd mixed with nervous energy yet fresh expectations, Elliott led the team to a 19-10 defeat of Vanderbilt. Though the Commodores only have two wins on the year, they gave then #3 Ole Miss a difficult win and have held many teams to fairly low scoring. No matter the record of the opponent, the USC fans were loud and excited to see USC creeping back towards a winning record.
Elliott previously coached at his alma mater, Appalachian State University, directly after gaining his bachelor’s degree in 1996. He played for the university after leading ASU to three consecutive national championships (2005-2007), he joined the Gamecock staff as offensive line coach in 2010.