Steve Spurrier had spent the summer telling anyone who would listen that despite a drop-off in 2014, the Head Ball Coach still had five or six more good years left in him to coach.
Spurrier missed that mark. In fact, Steve would have been closer had he said games.
The South Carolina Gamecocks football coach abruptly resigned six games into the 2015 season, ESPN reported Monday night. Spurrier met with his team after practice Monday to announce his decision, and an interim coach from the Gamecock staff will finish out the season.
South Carolina is currently 2-4 this season, suffering their fourth straight SEC loss on Saturday to No. 5 ranked LSU. The Tigers soundly defeated the Gamecocks in what turned out to be the last game for Steve Spurrier, running his overall record at the school to 86-49.
Spurrier had led the school to prominence after accepting the position in 2005. Steve led the team to its greatest heights, winning 11 games in three straight seasons that included a trip to SEC Championship game and three top-10 rankings.
Spurrier, who’s 70-years-old, is often credited with the fast-paced style the college game is played at today. As the football coach at the University of Florida – his alma mater – Steve created the Fun N’ Gun offense that led his team to a National Championship in 1996 and 122-27-1 record, CBS Sports reported.
Following a legend is never easy. Ask Barry Wilson or Ron Zook, both men who have followed Steve Spurrier after leaving jobs at Duke and Florida, respectively. Wilson stumbled to a 13-30-1 record with the Blue Devils while Zook “only” went 23-14 in his first three years before bolting to Illinois.
The next full-time head coach will have to deal with the unmatched success Steve Spurrier has had at South Carolina, while doing so in one of the country’s toughest conferences in the SEC. There’s also in-state rival Clemson, currently ranked No. 6 in the country and on a hot streak in recruiting.
With these factors to consider, here are three potential candidates to replace Steve Spurrier at South Carolina.
Ed Orgeron, LSU Defensive Line Coach
Orgeron meets a lot of the criteria the next South Carolina coach should possess. He’s a recruiting guru who helped created the Southern Cal dynasty in the early 2000’s. He has former head coaching experience at Ole Miss – although with miserable results. He resurrected his career – and again, the Trojan program – after the mid-season firing of Lane Kiffin in 2013. And most notably, he’s a coach that can get the players to rally around him like Steve Spurrier with his fiery personality and backwoods charm.
Kirby Smart, Alabama Defensive Coordinator
Smart has been with the Tide for all three national championships as the defensive coordinator, and he’s been rumored for multiple openings in the past. A defensive guru – which is currently South Carolina’s weakness – Smart is as good as it gets; Alabama secured a top-5 national ranking every year for the first six seasons Smart was head of the defense. Despite dropping just outside the top-10 last year, Smart is an SEC veteran who could make an immediate impact like Steve Spurrier did in 2005.
Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette Head Coach
Hudspeth’s name shouldn’t be a surprise on any head coaching vacancy list in the south. The Ragin’ Cajuns head man has won nine games each of his first four years, including wins in all four New Orleans Bowl games the team has played. A breaking story from the Monroe News Star indicating UL-L committed major recruiting violations in 2011 and is vacating their nine wins shouldn’t stop him from being mentioned to replace Steve Spurrier. The story suggests the infractions belong to a former coach no longer with the team, and Hudspeth has been cleared of wrong-doing.
While the South Carolina Gamecocks are sure to miss Steve Spurrier, hiring the right replacement will help them continue the momentum the Head Ball Coach brought to the once moribund SEC program.
[Image by Todd Bennett/Getty Images]