Spurrier taking undeserved heat in Palmetto State

Steve Spurrier owns an 86-48 record during his tenure at South Carolina that's featured nine bowl games in 10 seasons.

Steve Spurrier owns an 86-48 record during his tenure at South Carolina that’s featured nine bowl games in 10 seasons.

Published on Tuesday, 10/6/15, at 6:17 p.m. Eastern.

Some in South Carolina’s fan base and in the (local and national) media are calling for Steve Spurrier’s dismissal after a 24-10 loss at Missouri this past weekend. This development is beyond wrong on so many levels.

For starters, Spurrier will fire himself if the team doesn’t show some life in the next few weeks. This isn’t and won’t become a Bobby Bowden type of situation that FSU dealt with for nearly a decade.

OK? Are we clear there? Crystal?

What reasonable human being would think otherwise? What on earth in Spurrier’s 70 years has made anyone think he wants to stubbornly remain at the wheel of a sinking ship?

In his 11 years in Columbia, has Spurrier ever once come across as someone that didn’t want what was best for the present and future of the Gamecocks? Didn’t he turn down a raise for himself and instead distribute the money to his assistants several years ago? (Yes is the answer.)

And before I go any further, I’m certainly not implying that all of USC’s fan base or the local (and national) media is destroying The HBC. To those that are, get a clue.

This moribund program was always a NOBODY prior to Spurrier’s arrival. On his watch, South Carolina has an 86-48 record, nine postseason appearances, one SEC East title and three 11-win seasons.

How many times did the Gamecocks win 11 times in the Pre-HBC Era? Never, of course. Not in more than 100 years of fielding a football team.

And please, can we put this nonsense to bed about how Spurrier was the beneficiary of the greatest talent that’s ever been produced in The Palmetto State? First of all, that talent would’ve gone out of state or to Clemson without Spurrier at the helm.

Secondly, and most important, let’s break down that talent. Last time I checked, Stephon Gilmore went pro a year early and got absolutely abused by Auburn’s WRs in USC’s only appearance in the SEC Championship Game. (I’m not trying to piss on Gilmore’s very solid college career here, by the way, but let’s not act as if he was the backbone of Spurrier’s success in Columbia).

Now let’s hit on the great Marcus Lattimore, who I absolutely LOVE! Great human being, incredible running back who would’ve made millions upon millions in the NFL if not for that horrifying moment at Williams-Brice Stadium that afternoon against Tennessee.

Lattimore was an absolute workhorse stud for USC and with apologies to George Rogers, he’s undoubtedly the best RB to ever play for the Gamecocks. With that said, it’s a testament to Spurrier’s brilliance that South Carolina compiled a 9-1 record without Lattimore in the two seasons in which he suffered season-ending injuries.

Hell, if we wanted to get greedy, we could actually make that stat 11-1 if we counted the wins at Mississippi St. (in ’11) and vs. Tennessee (’12) when the victories were secured after his unfortunate injuries. Those triumphs sans Lattimore included two (of the five straight from 2009-2013) scalps of arch-rival Clemson by double-digit margins, in addition to bowl-game wins over Nebraska and Michigan.

(That’s right. Until last season’s setback at Clemson, South Carolina had beaten its bitter adversary by margins of 17, 22, 21, 10 and 14 points during a five-year stretch of dominance. Clemson had won 10 of the 12 previous head-to-head meetings, and it had never lost five in a row to the Gamecocks. Let’s be clear that this five-year run didn’t come while the Tigers were licking their wounds. They won nine in ’09, 10 in ’11, 11 in ’12 and 11 again in ’13. In the ’12 game, Connor Shaw was hurt and Spurrier coached up back-up Dylan Thompson to throw for more than 300 yards and three TDs without an interception at Death Valley.)

Finally, there’s Jadeveon Clowney, who also (understandably) bolted a year early and, some would argue, took most of his junior season off and was somewhat of a distraction at times. Nevertheless, the Gameocks won 11 again in 2013. If not for a sick one-shouldered catch by true freshman Marquez North to set up UT’s game-winning field goal in Knoxville, South Carolina would’ve won the SEC East for a second time and probably hit 12 wins (maybe even 13) for the only time in school history.

Did Gilmore, Lattimore and Clowney enjoy stellar collegiate careers? Of course they did. But were they the most important factors in the three 11-win seasons? That’s preposterous.

Shaw and Spurrier were the leaders and catalysts of the unprecedented three-year run. Players like Melvin Ingram, Antonio Allen, Bruce Ellington, Mike Davis and D.J. Swearinger played equally important roles to those of the aforementioned trio.

Have things gone bad this season? No question about it. The win over North Carolina was a fortunate one and the victory over UCF wasn’t impressive, either.

There’s no telling how the next few weeks will play out but if things don’t change for the better, Spurrier will step down on his own. To be clear, he won’t quit on this team. He’ll simply walk into Ray Tanner’s office and submit his resignation effective at the end of the regular season.

The HBC will then face the media, thank the University for the opportunity, thank his players and the fans, apologize for the lack of success this season and be on his way.

So to those Gamecocks bashing The HBC and taking cheap shots, show a little respect for the man responsible for the most only sustained success in your football program’s history. Unless he does one of his best-ever coaching jobs the rest of this season, your wish is going to be granted and then you can strike out on Chip Kelly and several other big-name coaches you have in mind.

Like I warned Tennessee fans before Phil Fulmer’s forced exit, be careful what you wish for… because you just might get it.

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