Spurrier officially hangs up visor as Gamecocks coach

spurrierersignsSouth Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is now officially the “The Ex-Head Ball Coach” after announcing his surprise midseason resignation on Tuesday.

“I’ll be here around town. I’ll just be the former head ball coach now,” said Steve Spurrier, speaking at the auditorium in the end zone at Williams-Brice Stadium. “It’s time for me to move on. It’s time for South Carolina to start rebuilding.

“When something is inevitable, let’s do it right now. Let’s give the interim coach the opportunity right now.”

Offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Shawn Elliott was named interim coach.

“We want South Carolina to be great,” Elliott said. “We’re going to give everything we got these last six games.”

Spurrier, 70, retired as South Carolina football coach on Tuesday, halfway through the 2015 season with 228 career wins. He had only two losing seasons in 26 years as a college coach.

“Some might question the timing, but if it’s perfect timing for Steve Spurrier, it’s perfect timing for us,” athletic director Ray Tanner said.

Known for his swagger and loquaciousness, Spurrier was renowned as an offensive mind. He did not rule out coaching again, and made it clear his decision should be viewed as a resignation, not a retirement.

“If it starts getting bad, starts going South, I need to get out,” Spurrier said of his thinking behind the decision. “We’ve slipped. It’s my fault. It’s time for me to get out of the way. Shawn will bring some enthusiasm, energy, passion our guys will accept.”

South Carolina president Harris Pastides said he tried to talk Spurrier out of retirement in two conversations Monday, but his mind way made up.

“If the players know you aren’t going to be their coach, you just don’t have the accountability,” Spurrier said of considering staying on through the end of the year. “It gives (Shawn Elliott) a chance to make his mark. Hopefully it will work out. Hopefully a lot of our coaches on our staff will be here next year. I’m pulling for Shawn.”

The seven-time SEC coach of the year leads active coaches with 104 players drafted to the NFL. He is also the all-time leader in wins at Florida, where he coached from 1990-2001.

“He changed the culture of this place,” Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said. “I have been here a long, long time. When I first came here in 1976, all anybody wanted to do was win one Southeastern Conference Championship. Obviously he came here and changed that standard a little bit. He produced the championships. He produced the first national championship and he did it the right way.”

Spurrier, hired in 2004 at South Carolina, was 86-24 with the Gamecocks and had a winning percentage of more than 78 percent in his career. He had three 11-win seasons (2011-13) at South Carolina.

“Eleven years ago I was the right coach for this job. I’m not today,” Spurrier said. “That’s the cycle of coaching. I do believe it’s important for me to step aside and allow that building process to take place.”

The uncertainty in the program could be a negative in recruiting.

With Clemson playing for a potential spot in the College Football Playoff and several SEC schools on the radar of any high-profile prospects considering South Carolina, the program could be hurt the longer it delays a decision to replace Spurrier.

“Yesterday I was a recruiting liability,” Spurrier said. “I didn’t plan on going out this way. I planned on going out on the shoulder pads of our players coming out of the Georgia Dome with an SEC title.”

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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