There is a familiar refrain from the Steve Spurrier era at South Carolina that has become much less familiar recently:
“Don’t worry, Spurrier ain’t going to be there long.”
When the HBC took over at USC in 2005, conventional wisdom said he would stick around 5-7 years and then head off into the sunset for endless rounds of golf. Now, as he prepares to start his ninth year as the Gamecocks’ head man, the end of his tenure is nowhere in sight.
Why is this important? Because since the start of Spurrier’s reign at USC, those who have gone against him have continually whispered in the ears of young recruits, “he won’t be there.”
And around 2007-2008, not only was it believable to recruits, it was believable to fans like us as well. Success did not come quickly or easily for the South Carolina program under Spurrier. He built on the mediocre seasons of Lou Holtz with only slightly more mediocre seasons.
Spurrier himself admitted after both the 2009 Outback and 2010 PapaJohns.com bowl disasters, the latter after a breakthrough win over Clemson, that he considered calling it quits.
But since the start of the 2010 regular season (not coincidentally the same time Marcus Lattimore arrived) the Gamecocks have gone 31-9, won their first SEC Eastern Division Championship, have had back-to-back 11-win seasons and two top-10 finishes.
When Tbone and I saw Spurrier at FanFest in Atlanta two weeks ago, he looked as energetic and happy as we’ve ever seen him. Tbone speculated that maybe an SEC Title in 2013 would be the perfect time for Spurrier to exit the program. I told him I’m not sure if we won a NATIONAL championship he would leave. He’s having too much fun right now, and I’m really not sure what he would do with himself outside the game.
This passage from a recent Charleston Post and Courier article spoke volumes:
Yet both he and Jerri still maintain their own lives, independent of the kids and grandkids. Jerri coordinates activities like the team’s parents association breakfast on the morning of the spring game. Jerri teaches a fitness class at USC’s student gym. She has two courses remaining for a second bachelor’s degree, in psychology, and hopes to work with depressed and suicidal youths.
“(Taking classes) kind of gets me where I get to be somebody else,” Jerri said. “I do it for me, and I think everybody needs to do something for them.”
For Spurrier, that is football, forever football.
“I dread the day that we’re not doing this, because it’s my life,” Jerri said. “It’s what I do, too. It’s what we do.”
Doesn’t sound like Jerri’s ready to give it up any time soon, and that tells me Steve is probably not ready to give it up either.
So is Spurrier telling recruits Neal and Blackshear that he’ll still be around when they finish their college careers in 2019 or 2020? I have no idea. But at this point it wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Spurrier loves football, and he loves South Carolina. I think he might stay a while.