Interesting article here from SBN's Bill Connelly. (H/T Blutarsky.) Connelly discusses how Dan Mullen at Miss. St. may be approaching what Connelly calls "Glen Mason territory," after the former Minnesota coach who was fired despite a generally strong record with the Gophers:
It happens to every successful coach at some point. Hell, it probably happened to Nick Saban when Alabama was only going 10-3 in 2010. You raise the bar for a given program higher than it has been for a while, but people get a little bit impatient when you fail to continue raising it. You could be a couple of 7-6 seasons away from full-fledged Glen Mason Territory.
Back in my blogger infancy, i coined a term called Glen Mason Territory to describe when a coach achieves at a higher-than-normal level at a given school (probably a second-tier BCS program that hadn't won in a while before he showed up) but cannot ever break through to the next level; he keeps making bowl games and winning, say, 6-8 games a year, but fans begin to get impatient. The crazies begin to start yelling things like "settling for mediocrity!" on talk radio and message boards, season ticket sales begin to fade, and even the rational fans in the base (the SB Nation readers, naturally) begin to start wondering if a change is needed.
The article got me thinking about how close our fanbase came in 2008 and 2009 to what Connelly is describing. We had quite a few folks complaining that while we were relatively successful during the early Spurrier years, Spurrier wasn't "taking us to the next level," i.e., making us competitive with Florida and Georgia. As with Mason, it may have indeed hurt the perception of Spurrier that Spurrier exceeded expectations in his first year, as that gave the false impression that South Carolina was close to being a contender in the SEC. As it turned out, it was a multiyear task for Spurrier to build the roster he needed and to institute schemes that suited the talent we had at our disposal. Fans got grumpy when success didn't happen overnight. Spurrier was able to keep the negativity from gaining too much traction with the fanbase at large with the epic 2009 recruitting class and then the signing of Marcus Lattimore in 2010. I can definitely remember, though, a few offhand people calling for his head, and many more showing a lot of dissatisfaction with how things were going.
I don't know that we would have ever fired Spurrier unless he had had a truly atrocious season, but he's been visibly upset over fan complaints in the past, and may indeed have come close to retiring after 2008 in part due to lack of fan gratitude. One cringes to wonder what we would have missed out on, say, if we had failed to break through in 2010 (say, due to a rash of injuries), then to see a dejected Spurrier retire due to lack of fan support.