Interpreting the final years of the Steve Spurrier saga
College Contributor Network
When the Steve Spurrier coaching narrative finally comes to a close, its final chapter will read: "Head Ball Coach at South Carolina."
Spurrier is done coaching after his stint with the Gamecocks, so don't ask him otherwise. No, he won't return to Florida. And no, he certainly will not return to the NFL.
"I tell everybody my next move is going to be to Crescent Beach, Florida," Spurrier said when rumors of Florida head coach Will Muschamp's dismissal began to surface in 2014. "That's where my next move is going to be."
The oft-alluded to Florida town is home to a beach house that Spurrier and his family own. But even Spurrier seems to be unsure of when exactly he will take the trip down I-95 for a permanent vacation.
Before South Carolina's 24-21 win over Miami in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl last season, Spurrier told The State that he plans on being the head coach at South Carolina for "two or three" more years.
That response -- paired with a 6-6 regular season -- sent South Carolina's 2015 recruiting class into a frenzy. Since October, eight players have de-committed from Spurrier's class, including prize four-star defensive end Arden Key. South Carolina's recruiting class, which was once ranked by Rivals as the No. 2 in the nation, now stands at No. 14 and sits behind six other Southeastern Conference schools.
While the de-commitments have been rolling in since South Carolina stumbled through its conference schedule at the front end of the 2014 season, many players attributed the uncertainty at the coaching position to why they chose to de-commit.
Spurrier then pumped the brakes on any retirement talk after noticing the affect his statement had on his recruiting class.
At halftime of the South Carolina men's basketball team's game against Kentucky, Spurrier met with the media and announced his updated plans.
"Well, I'm surely talking about the next four years in my little talks now," Spurrier said of his talks with potential recruits regarding his future. "Did Will Mushchamp tell his guys 'I'll be here when you finish'? He tried. Nobody knows the future of coaching. I hope to be here four or five more years. Gosh, we all know anything could change."
Upon arriving as head coach at South Carolina, Spurrier declared that it would be his goal to "win the game in the Georgia Dome." The Gamecocks have gotten to the SEC championship game just once -- in 2010 -- but, after that season, South Carolina launched itself into unprecedented success. The three best seasons in program history followed with 11-win seasons in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Still, Spurrier knows that a pretty good run is nothing to end your career on.
For a person who has reached the pinnacle of the college football profession both as a player and as a coach, South Carolina is Spurrier's own project. 24 years after winning the Heisman Trophy at Florida, Spurrier returned to his alma mater to lead the Gators to six SEC championships and a national title as head coach.
The Head Ball Coach cannot throw in the towel until he replicates the success he had at Florida to some degree. If he is able to get a perennially bad South Carolina team to the top of the SEC mountain, it would likely go a long way in erasing his terrible two-year stint with the Washington Redskins from his mind.
Whether that success remains an SEC title, or whether it has shifted given South Carolina's stark decline this past year remains to be seen.
One thing Spurrier has learned this season is that perhaps there are certain things you cannot be as candid about. For a coach who has a penchant for speaking his mind no matter who is in the room, that is something that takes a little bit of trial and error to learn.
After his "two or three" more years comment reached the ears of high schoolers, Spurrier likely saw his chance at getting back to the SEC championship game dwindle. He needs those players, so the best course of action would be to maintain status quo until one day he decides to step down.
"I've always said that I won't retire. I'll resign, sort of what like Dick LeBeau said the other day when he resigned from the Steelers," Spurrier told Chris Low of ESPN. "He said that he wasn't retiring. I feel the same way. Retiring sounds too much like you're going to quit and do nothing."
David Roberts is a fourth-year English major at the University of South Carolina. He was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, but relocated to the land below the Mason-Dixon line in grade school, citing earthquakes and Raiders fans as minor nuisances. David is a die-hard Cubs fan and still breaks down when thinking about the 2003 NLCS. Follow him on Twitter: @davidjayroberts