Say it ain't so, Steve!
So far, the Head Ball Coach hasn't given a statement on whether he would consider finishing his coaching days back at his alma mater. Or perhaps the South Carolina beat writers are too scared to ask him yet!
I suppose it's not absolutely absurd since Muschamp is clearly a gonner. Other than Charlie Weis (fired by KU in September) and Brady Hoke, no Power 5 Conference head coach has enjoyed a hotter seat than Will Muschamp. Whether Florida A.D. Jeremy Foley honors his pledge to retain Muschamp until the end of the season, it would take a miracle turn around - winning out against Georgia, South Carolina and FSU - for him to have even a glimmer of a chance to stay in Gainesville. After the disastrous
42-0 42-13 loss to Mizzou, the conventional wisdom is that even winning out might not be enough.
Well, then - why is Spurrier's name coming up for the Florida job? Setting aside, obviously, him being a legend there in the 60s as a player and the 90s as a coach? Two reasons.
First there is no way Florida will hire another "D" Two coach. That means guys like Stanford's David Shaw, UGA"s Jeremey Pruitt and Alabama's Kirby Smart are out. Ditto guys like Nebraska's Bo Pelini.
Second, it's not such a buyer's market for Florida considering the woeful straits in which the Gators find themselves. In spite of all the money, the facilities, the tradition and the recruiting advantages, UF is a total dumpster fire.
Moreover, a lot of top O coaches are probably very happy where they are. Auburn's Gus Malzahn, Zona's Rich Rodriguez and Baylor's Art Briles aren't going to leave their current schools. Neither are A&M's Kevin Sumlin or UT's Charlie Strong. Some younger guys once considered offensive gurus like Kliff Kingsbury, Jake Spavital and Chad Morris have likely all missed their windows to take over a big-time program like UF - at least for the next few years. I don't think you'd peel Hugh Freeze out of Ole Miss either. And Urban Meyer's never going to get another call from the 352 area code.
Of course, there are good candidates out there like MSU's Dan Mullen, OSU's Mike Gundy, WVU's Dana Holgorsen and BYU's Bronco Mendenhall. Ex-Rutgers coach Greg Schiano is also available. And of course there's the holy grail of all possible hires - whose mere name is like pure poppy-milk to most CFB fans.
Still, the media types are bandying about Spurrier's name. Why would he say no? Let's count the reasons.
5. He can't win in '15 or '16 with the Gators.
UF's 2014 season has been nothing short of abysmal but 2015 does not portend to be any better for the Gators - including in recruiting. On the other hand, as depressing as 2014 has been for the Cocks, the Garnet and Black should be getting some reinforcements to fix what ails us on defense next year. Plus, notwithstanding the lackluster play of our QB backups behind the second string OL versus Furman - and, yes, understanding we will lose 5-7 offensive starters at the end of the year - we have some pieces in place to be decent on offense over the next few seasons. Moreover, the HBC would have to reinstall a new O if he returns to Gator country - with very few top caliber weapons projected to return or arrive for the Orange and Blue.
All things being equal, in the last few years of his career, he has a better chance of winning immediately at USC than he would at Florida. If you had asked me 10 years ago whether those words would have ever come out of my mouth I would have laughed at you.
4. He would have to devote himself completely to recruiting and rebuilding.
Let's be honest. Recruiting has never been the HBC's forte. Sure, Gainesville is and always will be an easier place to recruit that Columbia (with the right coach). The Sunshine State is a recruiting hotbed. But were Spurrier to retake the reins at The Swamp, he'd have to give himself completely over to the recruiting process a la Mark Richt or Dabo Swinney. I don't think he's ever going to be up for that.
When Spurrier landed in Gainesville the first time in 1990, he was handed a troubled but highly talented team built by Galen Hall. Sure, it was on probation for the second time in five years and had gone just 7-5 in both '88 and '89, but it had strong players on both sides of the ball. Plus, recruiting was an entirely different animal and Spurrier's innovative and practically unstoppable "Fun and Gun" made recruiting easy. Those days are a distant memory. Recruiting has totally changed in the last generation - and not in a way that plays to Spurrier's strength. Tim Tebow - despite his spot-on impersonation- had previously said he would not have played for the HBC.
The cupboard's going to be bare at UF whenever Muschamp leaves. The HBC has already endured some rough rebuilding years in Columbia (2005-2009). At 69 does he want to go through that again? With all the spotlight and pressure? I doubt it.
3. It might tarnish his image.
No SEC coach is ever going to catch the Bear. And while it might be open to debate as to who is the second greatest coach in Southeastern Conference history, Steve Spurrier would certainly be on the "SEC Mount Rushmore" - to borrow a good line from King James. After becoming the all-time winningest coach in South Carolina history, with a program best 33-6 record and top 10 finishes from 2011-2013 and a 2010 SECCG appearance (along with two more SEC Coach of the Year trophies [2005, 2010]) with the Cocks, nothing he has - or will do - at USC in 2014, 2015 or even 2016 can ever damage that reputation.
Obviously, Spurrier craves another SEC championship, but he has achieved what none of his coaching predecessors could ever do in Columbia - i.e., turn the Gamecocks into a sustained winner. That will resound to his credit forever, no matter what happens this year or next. Plus, if he can somehow, someway capture a SEC title at South Carolina - then he will have achieved something that no one thought possible; that no one even thought was imaginable.
By contrast, he has no mountains left to climb at Florida. The 1996 national championship, six SEC crowns and five league coach of the year trophies speak for themselves. He is still revered by the Gator fans even when he beats them. He has long said that he plans to retire
in the Gainesville area Crescent Beach, FL (h/t CCC) after he hangs up the Visor. Why go back if its going to be impossible to live up to the standard he set at UF in the 1990s? Granted, the Gators can pay more and the Sunshine State's tax benefits amplify that even more, but he's making good money now at USC.
If he returns to the Swamp and wins, certainly there would be pride in that. But if he returns and loses, will the Gator faithful still love him? Will he still be remembered as fondly? Compare that to a place - South Carolina - where he will never be fired and where he gets to leave on his terms. Would he risk that security against the likelihood of a losing season or two and mediocrity at his alma mater?
The answer seems pretty obvious.
2. The HBC and Jeremy Foley Either Don't or Won't Get Along. *
Publicly, they won't bash each other. But Florida A.D. Jeremy Foley and the HBC don't get along. And nothing about their personalities would lead one to believe they could get along.
Spurier left UF for the Redskins the same year Foley took over as A.D. - 2002. But when the HBC was sending out feelers in 2004 that he was interested in returning to the collegiate ranks - the same year the Gators fired Ron Zook - Foley gave him a very public and humiliating rebuff by saying the Ball Coach could go through the interview process. He actually withdrew his name from the search. Foley might have looked like a genius during the first part of the Urban Meyer era. But Meyer's tenure ended in shambles and Muschamp - despite the '12 season - has been a Titanic-like disaster. For his part, when he was announced as USC's head coach, Spurrier very tellingly said he took the job because it was the only one that was offered.
That kind of enmity does't go away. Even a decade later, I doubt these two old bulls would enjoy locking horns. They will say the right things. Both of them love the University of Florida too much to do otherwise. But they will take a pass on each other.
1. There's nothing to these stories except media jibber-jabber.
Media types are circulating this story. It's not coming from either Gainesville or Columbia.
It makes for good copy and compelling reading. There is a certain romantic quality to it, even. But the Gators will go for a younger guy like Mullen, Gundy or Holgorsen. And Steve Spurrier will finish his storied career at Carolina.
Hopefully, with some extra hardware that has eluded him here.
* In the comments Im accused of misstating a lack of getting along between Foley and Spurrier and that they are actually pals. So take reason number 2 one with a grain of salt; but I haven't seen anything on it either that a fan would know about.
Apparently, the beat writers decided to ask - Steve Spurrier says there’s no pressure this week, oh and he’s not taking the Florida job.