Steve Spurrier said that it would be his dream to leave South Carolina being carried on the shoulder pads of his players with an SEC Championship. As it stands, he’ll instead retire from coaching college football midway through the season with a 2-4 record.
The 70-year-old admits that his prime reason for quitting at this juncture is that he doesn’t want to go through a rebuilding effort. Here’s a look at his official statement to the press:
“The last several years as I’ve traveled around the country, seen guys and so forth I always get asked ‘How much longer are you going to coach?’ And my answer is always the same. As long as we keep winning, keep winning these bowl games, everybody’s happy, we’re ranked, life’s pretty good, I guess I could go several more years.
“(Shawn) Elliott has been the team’s offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator. Spurrier informed the team of his decision on Monday and said he knew Sunday morning that it was time to make a decision about his future. He also said he was responsible for South Carolina’s poor record and that it was time for him to “get out of the way and let somebody else have a go at it.”
Spurrier believes that him stepping down is in the best interest of the South Carolina football team. Additionally, he feels that by quitting now and letting Elliott take over, it could ultimately help the team perform better.
“Actually when we were 2-2 I called [AD Ray Tanner] up and I told him ‘I’m going to try to get through this season, but I sense this is about it for me. I sense it’s it,'” Spurrier said. “Central Florida, it was a struggle against those guys. As you know, we came in at halftime behind. And it was a struggle. And I said ‘I don’t know if I need to continue having these kinds of struggles.’
“But we talked briefly then and we talked briefly this past Sunday and when something is inevitable I believe you do it right then. I believe you don’t wait a week, you don’t wait two weeks. This has to happen, let’s do it. Let’s do it and get started in a new direction.”
Despite the 2-4 record this season, Spurrier’s career record is outstanding. He’s 228-89-2 in over 24 seasons of coaching, which includes stops at Duke, Florida and South Carolina. His best years were at Florida, where he guided the Gators to six SEC championships and a national title. With the Gamecocks, he won the 2010 SEC East title, but lost to the eventual BCS national champion Auburn in the SEC Championship.
He retires as the winningest coach in the history of both Florida and South Carolina. And only Bear Bryant has more overall SEC victories than Spurrier. Even still, this wasn’t the dream way of leaving for the ‘Ole Ball Coach.’
“I didn’t plan on going out this way,” Spurrier confessed. “I planned on being on the shoulder pads of the team coming out of the Georgia Dome with an SEC Championship. But that didn’t work out. We did win our division down in the Swamp, that was neat back then, but I just think it’s best for everybody, especially our team, our school, that I get out of the way now and let’s start in a new direction.”
Spurrier stopped short of calling this a retirement because he may coach high school football in the future. However, as far as college football is concerned, this is likely his last stint in the game.