In 2004, the great Lou Holtz, after a six-year post retirement stint coaching the South Carolina Gamecocks, decided to hang it up for good. The board of trustees, looking to bring someone in that could continue to raise the team’s profile on a national stage, got the man they were looking for right up Interstate 95.
Enter Steve Spurrier.
Spurrier had finished up a pair of disappointing seasons at the helm of the Washington Redskins as he finished 12-20 over the course of two seasons (2002 and 2003) before stepping down. It was the former Florida quarterback’s experience with his alma mater from 1990-2001 that got the attention of the Redskins’ staff, though: a 122-27-1 record, a Sugar Bowl victory and national championship season in 1996, and a tenure in which the team never finished outside the top 15 in either poll (aside from the 1990 probation season in which they were ineligible for the coaches’ poll).
Meanwhile, at Florida, Ron Zook was sacked after three seasons, going 23-15–a far cry from Spurrier’s tenure. Would Spurrier be interested in returning? As it turns out, no:
“I have informed Jeremy Foley, (Florida) athletic director, that I am withdrawing from consideration for the head coaching position at my alma mater…When I departed three years ago, there were several reasons why I believed it was time to move on. Other than simply wanting to coach in the NFL some day, I also believed that 12 years at Florida was probably long enough.”
Spurrier would be waiting on the sidelines until Holtz’s retirement after the 2004 campaign. The rest is history: 77-39, three straight bowl victories and a #4 ranking in both polls after the 2013 season. Though he wasn’t able to lead the team to a BCS bowl bid during the now-defunct championship series for one reason or another, and while the team has suffered its share of bumps, bruises, and disappointing losses over the past nine seasons, maybe the Gamecocks are on the verge of breaking through and winning their first ever national title.