We did a series here on the site called "Ten Seasons of Spurrier" this past summer. It was a lot of fun, because it gave South Carolina Gamecocks fans young and old, as well as those maybe not familiar with the program, an opportunity to look back at Steve Spurrier's first ten years at the helm of the Gamecocks football program. It was especially interesting to see how an underachieving team was able to work themselves into the overall consciousness of the nation after being on the outside looking in. Maybe not to the level of the Alabamas of the world, but Spurrier raised the program to heights that it had never seen before.
Let's fast forward to present day. The Gamecocks' latest loss, a 24-10 defeat at Missouri, set a dubious standard: it was the first time since 2005, Spurrier's first year, that they had started a season 0-3 in the SEC East. The loss dropped them to 2-3 overall. It was the first time they have dropped three of their first five games since - say it with me - 2005, Spurrier's first year. We'll get back to that 2005 season in a moment.
But from watching Gamecocks football - not only this year, but from the year before, as well, you get the sense that the spry, quotable, razor-sharp Steve Spurrier of years prior is gone. In his place is a man who failed to fully capitalize on the apex of the program's rise and failed to parlay that into an aggressive, reload-not-rebuild recruiting strategy. The man who has made a living taking swipes at his opposing coaches has been outcoached three times within his own division. Play-calling (whoever's calling the plays), and talent, on both sides of the ball, have been lacking. Dare I say that sometimes, he doesn't look like he wants to be there?
Look, I am in full appreciation of what Spurrier has done at South Carolina. He's worked wonders during his time here. He built a winner, a team that others just didn't want to face. Williams-Brice Stadium used to be a house of horrors to play in. And it was a terrific run. But those days are in the rear-view mirror. To those who bring up his three straight 11-win seasons, he deserves all the credit in the world for that, but what evidence have you seen that makes you believe they'll do so again in his tenure, simply beyond the fact that he's Steve Spurrier? For those who point to how bad the program was before he got here (Brad Scott or year one under Lou Holtz, anyone?), that may be true, but is that an excuse for not wanting change? We're currently looking at a 2-3 group that, if they beat The Citadel (which they should) and Vanderbilt (which they might), will have to grab two wins from the following games to even become bowl eligible: LSU, at Texas A&M, at Tennessee, Florida and Clemson. And for all that's brought up about talent, about how the players have underperformed, how they haven't developed, etc., that comes back to one man, and one man alone. (By the way, that 2005 team I mentioned? They finished 7-6.) Meanwhile, Clemson, with their soon-to-be 46-year-old (and dare I say more interesting?) head coach, is 4-0 as of this writing, just knocked off the #6 team in the land, and is a lot closer to a spot in the College Football Playoff than the Gamecocks are to simply making a bowl.
Change is needed at the head coaching post at South Carolina. It is time for Steve Spurrier to hang it up after the season to allow some fresh blood to come in and get this program competing with the top teams in the SEC, like they did just a few short years ago. Names like Brent Venables, Chad Morris, Chip Kelly, and Mark Dantonio have been brought up. What about Justin Fuente, who has worked wonders over in Memphis? What about names like TCU co-OCs Sonny Cumbie or Doug Meacham?
As great as Steve Spurrier has been for this program, his best years seem to be firmly behind him. It's time for a change. And his stepping aside may be the best move for the program's future right now.