This space on a game day eve is usually reserved for a TRC ‘Boning Up segment, where we throw some serious knowledge your way about the upcoming opponent’s institution, tradition, and team. If you somehow wandered here looking for that info, please avail yourself of last year’s ‘Boning Up on the Dawgs, as much of the information remains the same. Just substitute ‘Chubb’ every time you see the word ‘Gurley’ and you should be fine. Georgia, gentle reader, never changes.
Instead, I’d like to address another topic: this, the (probable) final season of our Head Ball Coach. With a lackluster year behind us, and the promise of a difficult season ahead, many pundits are beginning to embrace the idea that this may be Steve Spurrier’s final year at the helm of our football program.
I have reluctantly reached this same conclusion.
Don’t get me wrong. I think the HBC has earned the right to coach the Gamecocks for as long as he wants. In fact, I’d be fine if we named him “Head Ball Coach for Life.” But the reality is that Spurrier is certainly near the end of his coaching days. His desire to go out on top notwithstanding, and given his complete disdain for mediocrity, he is more than likely going to be hanging up his visor at season’s end. He’s said as much on more than one occasion: if the program starts “going bad” (his phrase) then it would be time for him to step down.
Consensus reports have it that he almost stepped down at the end of last season, but a valiant effort by the Gamecocks in the Indy Bowl, plus Spurrier’s never-ending wellspring of tenacity, led him to sign on for another season.
Now, the prospects for a great – even a good – season seem dim, and with his age becoming more and more of an issue in recruiting, its safe to say there will not be a sudden influx of young Stephon Gilmores or Marcus Lattimores to energize our chances. The talent is not there, folks. Not like it was in 2011, 2012, or 2013. And it doesn’t look like it’s returning soon.
As we mentioned on TRC Unleashed this week, celebrities sometimes contort the English language in ways to mask the grim realities of their own divorces. What you and I may call a marriage breakup is called a “thoughtful, tender, undoing” by singer Jewel Kilcher. What we would call infidelity by a husband is called a “conscious uncoupling” by actor Gwyneth Paltrow.
I’m not suggesting that our head coaching situation is headed for a divorce, because I certainly don’t sense any acrimony between Spurrier and the Gamecock fan base. But an end, undoubtedly, is nigh. And I’d like for us (and Ray, and the HBC) to think about an alternative way to wrap things up.
Instead of waiting until the year is out, tough year that it will probably be, and then calling a depressing press conference during the holiday season, I’ve got an alternative.
Let’s have a thoughtful, tender undoing. A conscious uncoupling.
Here’s how: Announce it tomorrow. Before the game. All the HBC has to do is saunter up to the nearest sideline reporter with a camera and say “You know, this is gonna be my last time coaching in Sanford Stadium or against the Georgia Bulldogs. It’s been a great honor and a heck of a lot of fun. But anyway . . . “
All the pressure of the season would instantly evaporate. The questions surrounding our recruiting and the program’s future would take a back seat to excitement. We could all sit back and enjoy his victory lap season. Ray could get a head start on the coaching search. The media would go wild. And win or lose, our Gamecocks would be the lead on every sports page in America on Sunday morning. The media focus would continue all season long: the HBC’s last trip to Neyland. His last game against Florida, etc., etc. And the last game of his legendary coaching career could be in Williams Brice Stadium against the Clemson Tigers.
Imagine the HBC being carried off the field (whether after a win OR a loss) in that scenario. It would be something special, something we (him included) would feel was fitting for a coach who has done so much for our school and our athletics program.
Heck, we could even announce pregame that the field was gonna be named after him. After all, “Spurrier Field at Williams Brice Stadium” has a nice ring to it.
I’m not suggesting that we pull the plug on arguably the greatest playcaller in college football history. I’m not looking forward to being without the best ball coach we’ve ever had. But its going to happen, probably sooner than later. And I think we have an alternative to a wait-and-see approach.
Let’s have a conscious uncoupling.