Sunday, July 6, 2008

Is Steve Spurrier's window of opportunity closing at South Carolina?

When Steve Spurrier took over as head coach at South Carolina, it looked like the program was ready to go to the next level. Lou Holtz had rebuilt the program, and as he stepped down, most thought Spurrier was the right choice to turn the Gamecocks into a national power. However, that hasn't happened.

Until the mid-point of last season, it looked like Spurrier had the team on the brink of something special. In his second season in 2006, the team won eight games, and last year, the team started 6-1 and was ranked in the top 10. At that point everything fell apart. The Gamecocks finished with a 6-6 record and didn't even go to a bowl game.

Spurrier's trademark when he coached Florida was his ability to develop quarterbacks within his offensive system. As he enters his fourth season at Carolina, that position remains in a state of flux. Tommy Beecher and Chris Smelley both struggled during spring practice.

Carolina's early schedule this year is interesting. Most will point to the September 13 match up against Georgia as their first big test, but the opening game against North Carolina State is just as important. While N.C. State is only a middle-tier ACC team, it is critical for the Gamecocks to win that game. Last year left a bad taste in everybody's mouth, and Carolina needs to win early and win big.

Looking at Carolina's schedule in its entirety, this is a team that has 7-5 written all over it. Of course, that would be a slight step forward compared to last year, but with Spurrier as coach, the fans of the program have really high expectations. A 7-5 record would be considered a disappointment to many of them.

Because of this, it will be interesting to see how they treat Spurrier. Will he start feeling heat?

Considering the resources of the school, South Carolina has been the most underachieving program in the SEC since joining the conference in 1992. The team really hasn't made a serious run at the SEC Eastern Division title during this time.

They remain the mystery program of the SEC.


Anonymous said...

Dont worry 'bout the ole Ball Coach. He'll coach'em up. He'll coach'em up good.

Joltin' Django said...

If a Blue Chip high-schooler wants to play for an SEC team, he's gonna go to one of the half-dozen of the conference's top-tier teams. Unfortunately, that half-dozen don't include USC. (And it don't make no difference that USC has a "legendary" coach, neither.)