Steve Spurrier: How changing the culture at South Carolina hurt him


Steve Spurrier did not like what he saw when he arrived at South Carolina. A fan base that was so accustomed to losing that they applauded the team even during a loss. Let this be understood. There is nothing wrong with supporting the team, but Spurrier does not believe in reinforcing poor behavior with positive feedback. You see, Steve Spurrier is a winner.

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The most glaring example of this mentality came during the 2006 season. The Gamecocks hosted #2 Auburn, a team that beat the Gamecocks 48-7 the year before. The Gamecocks lost 24-17 after blowing several chances to tie the game. After the game, fans stuck around to applaud the effort of the team. Spurrier summed up this behavior by saying, “They thought we were going to get clobbered.; we didn’t get clobbered, so that’s O.K. That’s not O.K.”

Steve Spurrier is not ok with moral victories. He understands that there are things you can learn from games, but moral victories, in his mind, represent a loser mentality. This mentality can be seen in this quote following the same game, “I don’t know if any coach has told our fans, ‘Please don’t clap if we get beat.’” He also said, “It was a game that was there to be won, and we didn’t do it. We walked off the field losers.”

Sep 12, 2015; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier reacts during the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kentucky wins 26-22 over South Carolina. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Spurrier doesn’t expect fans to be satisfied with losing. This type of mentality has spread throughout Gamecock fans minds, especially after 3 straight 11-2 seasons. After tasting success, Gamecock fans are not ready to fade back into mediocrity in the SEC, and many see that happening after going 7-6 last season and having a home loss to Kentucky to open SEC play this season.

The question continues to loom over the Gamecock football program. Is it time for Steve Spurrier to retire? A lot more has come into question after his 2-3 year comment concerning how much longer he would coach. This has led me to believe that Spurrier being Spurrier has led to his own demise.

By being Steve Spurrier, he effectively changed Gamecock culture. For that I (and Gamecock Nation should be as well) am forever grateful. I am thankful that he showed that becoming an elite power in the SEC and in the country is entirely possible at South Carolina. I am grateful that Steve Spurrier was always honest and up front with fans and his expectations. I am thankful for all the improvements Steve Spurrier contributed to as far as facilities are concerned. Thank you, Steve!

But facts are facts.

Steve Spurrier has found more success at the University of South Carolina than any other coach. South Carolina has won 7 or more games only 26 times in 121 seasons. Spurrier has had 9 of those seasons. Unfortunately, 7 of his 10 seasons at South Carolina have resulted in 5 or more losses. That’s average to slightly above average football at best. Sure he had the 3 straight 11-2 seasons, but those are in the rear view mirror now. And he waved good-bye to them after he made the 2-3 years comment.

The only possible way Spurrier could turn things around is to win and to win now. The Gamecocks have one of the most difficult schedules in the nation, and now a win that was viewed by many as a sure things has been taken away. The head to Athens to take on the Georgia Bulldogs this weekend and still have games against LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Texas A&M, and Clemson.

Gamecock fans remember the Lou Holtz years and the things that happened towards the end of his tenure that set the Gamecocks back. A depleted offensive line and a dip in recruiting were things Gamecock fans were frustrated about, and looking at this years roster makes me think of that time. The Gamecocks currently have a walk-on starting at quarterback. Walk-ons are playing at tight end and wide receiver. The offensive line has virtually no experienced depth despite the initiative to take 4-5 linemen per class.

There are so many questions we have to ask about the future of Gamecock football. Is recruiting going to get worse with the constant barrage of questions concerning how long Spurrier is going to stay, and we continue to lose? Will our roster continue to stay this depleted of scholarship players? Will we be able to attract a top tier coach if Spurrier stays and we continue to lose 5 or more games per season?

The Gamecocks sit at 1-1 with plenty of time left to put things together and have a great season, but Spurrier must remember that he’s the one that set the bar high and changed the culture at South Carolina. Gamecock fans are just as anxious to win as he is. We no longer applaud good effort, and we sure as hell don’t applaud good effort for half a game. We expect excellence on the field. We expect to win and to win now.

Next: Gamecocks Defense a Jekyll and Hyde Act

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