Steve Spurrier, the visor-slinging, slick-talking “Head Ball Coach” who helped transform the way college football is played with his pass-happy “Fun ‘n’ Gun” offense, announced his resignation as coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks on Tuesday.
“First of all, I’m resigning and not retiring,” Spurrier said Tuesday. “I doubt if I’ll ever be a head coach again … but don’t say I’ve retired completely. Who knows what will come in the future?
“My answer has always been the same … If it starts going south, starts going bad, then I need to get out. … It’s time for me to get out of the way and give somebody else a go at it.”
Spurrier sensed the end of his ultra-successful career might be near as the Gamecocks, who had lost two of their first three games, trailed struggling UCF 14-8 at halftime on Sept. 26.
Though the Gamecocks came back to defeat UCF 31-14, they then lost to Missouri and LSU in consecutive weeks to fall to 0-4 in SEC play. After Saturday’ loss to LSU, Spurrier telephoned South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner on Sunday and told him he was contemplating resigning.
Tanner and USC president Harris Pastides tried to persuade Spurrier to coach through the end of the regular season, but his mind was made up.
This wasn’t how Spurrier wanted to be remembered.
Spurrier leaves the sideline as the second-winningest coach in SEC history behind Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant and the winningest coach at both Florida and South Carolina.
The 70-year-old Spurrier — known as much for his colorful quips about his opponents and confidence as he was for his offensive acumen — told his players Monday night that he was stepping down, effective immediately.
“I’ll just be the former Head Ball Coach now,” Spurrier said.
South Carolina co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott will be the interim coach for the remainder of the season. The Gamecocks (2-4, 0-4 SEC) are seventh in the SEC East heading into Saturday’s game home game against Vanderbilt.
“Our team is not in shambles, as some might say,” Elliott said. “I’m not sure the change is what they needed, but the change is what they got.”
When Elliott was asked about the pressure of replacing his former boss, Spurrier quipped from his seat, “We’re 2-4, buddy.”
Tanner picked Elliott as interim coach after meeting with several USC assistants and players on Monday night. Spurrier wouldn’t endorse anyone for the interim job, Tanner said.
“It’s their turn to have a go at it. It’s their turn to see what they can do,” Spurrier said. “That’s simply it, right there. It’s time for me to move on and time for South Carolina to start rebuilding a bit.”
Tanner said he was forming an advisory council and would use an outside search firm to assist him in finding a new coach. Among the potential candidates to replace Spurrier are Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, Memphis coach Justin Fuente and Houston coach Tom Herman.
Spurrier resigns with an 86-49 record at South Carolina and a 228-89-2 mark in 25 seasons as a head coach. He coached Florida, his alma mater, from 1990 to 2001 and led the Gators to the 1996 national championship and six SEC championships using his innovative offense.