On Monday evening, Steve Spurrier reportedly told his players and coaches that he was retiring as head coach, effective immediately. Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott was named the Gamecocks interim head coach this morning.
Unless Elliott's interim period ends with some sort of wild run to end the season, the program will look for a new head coach this offseason. Ray Tanner is approaching his first major decision as athletic director. He's not very experienced, but he knows the university and he knows what it takes to be a successful coach about as well as anybody. It'll be an interesting process for Tanner to work out, so we provided him with a preliminary list of coaches to look at in the coming months.
Rich Rodriguez, Arizona head coach
While his time at Michigan was a disaster, he has rebounded nicely in Tuscon. His Wildcats won the PAC-12 South last season and they're off to a 4-2 start this year. Before his time in Ann Arbor, he led his alma mater West Virginia to two BCS bowl appearances and three consecutive 10+ win seasons. Rodriguez could have a desire to come back to the east coast. He owns a lake house at Lake Oconee, just a few hours away from Columbia.
Sonny Dykes, California head coach
He had pretty decent success at Louisiana Tech, but his work this season has been spectacular. He has Cal out to a 5-1 start, their best opening to a season in years. He's groomed the hottest QB prospect out there during his time in Berkeley as well. He spent a couple years at Kentucky, but Columbia would be largely unknown to him.
Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh head coach
He entered Pittsburgh as one of the hottest coordinators in the country, and the Panthers have felt his effects from day one. Pitt (4-1) is off to its best start since 2009, and its only loss was a 3-point defeat at the hands of undefeated Iowa. Narduzzi has them in solid position to win the ACC Coastal Division championship in his first season. Would Narduzzi leave after so much success in year one, and would he see leaving Pitt for South Carolina as a lateral move?
Group of 5 Coaches
Tom Herman, Houston head coach
Herman is the best young coaching prospect out there. He took the Houston job after serving three seasons as Urban Meyer's offensive coordinator and right-hand man at Ohio State. Last year, he was named the Broyles Award winner, an honor given to the nation's top assistant. Herman can recruit and he can coach; he knows what he's doing. He'd be a home run hire for the Gamecocks, but he may have his eyes set on a bigger job down the line.
Justin Fuente, Memphis head coach
Fuente was the co-offensive coordinator and QB coach for Gary Patterson at TCU before taking the Memphis job. After a rough two years to start, he won 10 games with the Tigers a year ago. He's created some kind of offense out there and has them off to a 5-0 start with a looming test against Ole Miss this weekend. Dabo Swinney interviewed Fuente for Clemson's open offensive coordinator position in 2011 and came away impressed, despite later hiring Chad Morris.
Matt Campbell, Toledo head coach
Campbell has a pair of 9-win seasons at Toledo already and has them off to a 5-0 start this year, including their road win at Arkansas. He's only 35, making him the second-youngest coach in the FBS, so he may not be ready for a job like this just yet - but it would be a forward-thinking hire.
Matt Rhule, Temple head coach
He's basically spent the last eight years at Temple with a brief stop in New York with the Giants. He was named the head man for the Owls in 2013 and has increased their win total each season. They're off to a 5-0 start this year, which includes their season-opening win against Rhule's alma mater Penn State. If James Franklin takes the Southern Cal job, would Rhule rather end up in Happy Valley?
Phillip Montgomery, Tulsa head coach
No one plays offense like Baylor. Schematically, they do it like no one else in college football. Montgomery served as the Bears' play-caller during their rise, and now he's the head coach at Tulsa. They're off to a 3-2 start in his first year, but the two losses have been to Houston and Oklahoma - no shame in losing those. It may be a year or two early to hire Montgomery, but he should be on everybody's radar.
Will Muschamp, former Florida head coach
One of the best defensive minds in college football only has Auburn off to a so-so start on that side of the ball this season. After a tumultuous tenure at Florida, Muschamp finds himself as an assistant on the Plains, hoping to earn another head coaching job one day. The USC fan base wanted Muschamp as their new defensive coordinator last spring, but would they want him as their new head coach?
Lane Kiffin, former Southern Cal and Tennessee head coach
The most hilarious and intriguing possible hire out there. I'm not convinced Kiffin is a good head coach, but I'm not really sure anybody really knows. He failed at Southern Cal, but they were riddled with scholarship issues and it now appears their athletic department isn't run in the best possible away. He's now in Tuscaloosa, so he can learn from the mighty Nick Saban. This hire would surely make a splash, but would it become anything more than that?
Bo Pelini, former Nebraska head coach
There were small message board rumors last spring about Pelini joining Spurrier as his defensive coordinator. There was no semblance of truth to them, but it was interesting. Pelini never won less than nine games at Nebraska but he was forced out after last year, mainly due to his attitude and personality. He has somewhat disappeared from the main stage of the college football world and is now the head coach at Youngstown State, where he has the Penguins off to a 3-2 start.
Kirby Smart, Alabama defensive coordinator
He's reportedly turned down head coaching jobs at Tennessee, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. He's probably said no to more than just those schools too. His stock isn't as high as it once was, but Nick Saban continuously offers that Smart does the bulk of the work on his defense. He's a relentless recruiter and a trustworthy assistant coach, but he's been very selective about his next stop -would South Carolina be able to lure him away from Tuscaloosa?
Scott Frost, Oregon offensive coordinator
He was once a dazzling quarterback at Nebraska, and now he's the offensive coordinator for the most stylish program in all the land. Like most head coaching searches, a priority will likely be set on recruiting prowess and an exciting offense. Frost checks off both of those boxes and would bring energy to the Gamecock program.
Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles head coach
If the Eagles don't get it turned around, could Kelly jump ship or would the Philly brass just fire him? Either way, Southern Cal may not wait him out and he could fall right into South Carolina's lap if possible open positions at Miami and Texas are both filled as well. It's crazy, but it's worth mentioning.
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State head coach
By now, everyone knows that Dantonio is a Gamecock grad and played his college ball in Columbia in the 1970s. He coached under Jim Tressel at Youngstown State and Nick Saban at Michigan State, where he is the head man now. His defenses have been loaded in East Lansing and he has the Spartans at unprecedented heights over the last few seasons. He'd probably give South Carolina a very nice "no thank you", but it'd still be a no.
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma head coach
Big Game Bob has had his disappointments in Norman over the years, and if it happens yet again, would the Sooners look elsewhere? It'd be like the Big 12 version of Georgia getting rid of Mark Richt. I don't know how much Spurrier will be involved in the coaching search, but he and Stoops are very close friends to this day. Could the HBC earn one more victory for the Gamecocks and secure a national title winner as their next head coach?
Charlie Strong, Texas head coach
Strong was the defensive coordinator under Lou Holtz for four seasons at South Carolina and even worked under Spurrier at Florida for four years. Historically, his defenses are productive, mistake-proof and relentless. His time at Texas has been absurd, largely thanks to a fanatic group of boosters and an even wackier athletic director. A win against Oklahoma may have bought him more time in Austin. If Strong is allowed to stay, will he even want to? He doesn't seem like someone who would quit, so I'd be surprised if he just left. He would want to see his time at Texas through. If he does, though, Columbia would likely welcome him with open arms.