Yesterday, the college football world received some shocking news from the campus of the University of South Carolina, as the winningest coach in Gamecocks history, Steve Spurrier, announced he was resigning effective immediately.
His decision to abruptly resign in the middle of a 2-4 season sent shock waves throughout South Carolina on Monday night. But, when you think about it, it was classic Spurrier, as he went out on his own terms. He did it like he always said he would – his way.
He leaves as the Gamecocks’ all-time winningest coach. He took them to heights they had never seen before. His 86 career wins are 22 more than former coach Rex Enright, who won 64 games in two stops over 15 seasons. Spurrier got his in less than 11 seasons.
He won the most games in a single season at South Carolina, as he helped them notch 11 wins in 2011, 2012 AND 2013. He helped claim the school’s ONLY SEC divisional championship. The Gamecocks were bowl-eligible in every one of his first 10 seasons, playing in a bowl game in nine. USC had been to 11 bowl games total before he arrived.
Spurrier also beat nemeses Tennessee, Florida and Clemson a combined 16 times, with an unprecedented five consecutive wins over the Tigers.
Overall (with his tenures at Duke and Florida), Spurrier leaves with 228 career wins against only 86 losses. He leaves 13th on the list of college football’s career winningest coaches.
Now, Spurrier’s time at South Carolina didn’t quite match his immense success at Florida, which was one of the greatest runs a coach had at ANY school. While at Florida, he won six SEC championships, one national title and had nine top-10 finishes. However, he took the Gamecocks where they had always dreamed of being but had hardly ever been.
When Spurrier was hired after the 2004 season (taking a year off after a brief pit stop in the NFL with the Redskins), he said he took the job for the challenge. He wanted to take back to the league he had owned as a player and coach. Most of all, he said he wanted to do what he did at Duke and Florida, schools that never had large success until his arrival.
In the beginning, those proclamations outweighed the results, even though he took the team to winning seasons and bowl games. It all began to change when he made his first MAJOR signing for the school, that being in-state product Stephon Gilmore in 2009 – the Rock Hill prospect began a run of highly coveted local stars. After that, the flood gates opened, and the talent began to come to South Carolina.
You had Marcus Lattimore chose the Gamecocks in 2010 and led them to the SEC East championship (oh what might have been), You had Alshon Jeffery, one of the top WR’s in the country commit to play for Spurrier. And then, you had the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit, Jadeveon Clowney.
Spurrier also showed his magic touch when it came to quarterbacks. You had a lightly-regarded prospect from Flowery Branch, Ga., who left as the Gamecocks’ all-time winningest quarterback in Connor Shaw.
Spurrier took the Gamecocks to their highest national finish (fourth) and beat a No. 1 team for the first time in their history. He is one of four men to record 100 or more wins as an SEC coach against SEC competition, joining Bear Bryant, John Vaught and Vince Dooley.
In the end, Steve Spurrier did for South Carolina like what he did at Duke and Florida. He took a middling school with little or no success, and took them to national prominence. You have no choice but to tip your cap, or viser, to Spurrier, as he did truly did it his way.