South Carolina AD: Hiring Steve Spurrier was a defining moment for program

NCAA Football: SEC Media Day

South Carolina will open the 2014 season a favorite to win the SEC East and is hoping to notch their first SEC Championship ever.

Steve Spurrier’s legacy will be talked about forever, long after he’s finished coaching college football. South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner believes the football program’s defining moment came when Spurrier was hired on November 23, 2004.

“I thought that was a very important day for us,” Tanner told the Post and Courier. “The fact that Coach Spurrier didn’t have to come here, this was an opportunity for us to make a statement. He gave us instant credibility. It was national attention, and that helped us tremendously. I think his influence has been tremendous on this campus and in this athletics department.”

On the heels of three straight 11-win seasons, Spurrier has no doubt guided South Carolina into uncharted waters unfamiliar to the program. Prior to Spurrier’s arrival in 2004, the program had notched just 11 bowl game appearances and won just three of them. Since Spurrier’s hiring, the Gamecocks have appeared in eight bowl games already, winning four of them, including three straight.

Spurrier’s ability to adapt his game plan to the dynamic nature of college football has been amazing to watch. He went from hanging 50-plus every game with the Fun ‘N Gun at Florida to grinding out wins at South Carolina with the running game and defense. Spurrier has evolved his game over time, helping to cement his longevity.

Spurrier keeps chasing Bear Bryant’s career SEC win record. Bryant finished with a record of 159-46-9 in SEC games. Spurrier’s record is 128-46, 31 victories away from the legend.

Will Spurrier stick around until 2018? If so, the record could be his.

Photo Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • I was one of those that really disliked Spurrier when he was at Florida – getting beat year in and year out probably had something to do with that, along with the quips we’ve come to know of Spurrier so well. But once he became a Gamecock, I was all on board! He’s one of us now – I put the past aside.

    What has impressed me most is the foundation he has built at Carolina. Sure we’ve had a few good years in the past before Spurrier – one here, one there – but we have never had consistency like we have now. We’ve always had great fan support, but now we are getting good players and getting some depth at our positions. We are now competitive in the beast that is the SEC and that for me is most exciting!

    I remember when I first moved to St Louis (1992 – the same year we joined the SEC), I was juiced for the SEC, especially as one that remembers the ACC days and the dreaded Independent days. But when I attended an SEC football kickoff event that year, I was brought a little down to earth. Let’s just say that Carolina (and Arkansas) was not entirely welcomed with open arms. People were nice enough (somewhat), but “we really wanted Texas and Oklahoma.”

    When I think of the history of SEC football, I think of the five main juggernauts – Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and LSU. I’d add UT in there, too. So it’s extra nice now having Carolina mentioned as contenders with some of the big boys. I think Spurrier is most responsible for making us competitive.

    I just hope we get to the point where we can reload every year (see: Bama) instead of recruit!!!

    Go Cocks!

  • Ray Tanner as the baseball coach was obviously the defining moment for the South Carolina baseball program, winning back to back national championships. Steve Spurrier has been the same for the football program, with some goals yet to come. With Tanner now the AD and with Spurrier Jr. seemingly being the obvious choice to replace the Ole Ball Coach when he decides to go, it looks like the South Carolina program is charted for success for many years to come. Go Gamecocks!

    • “… and with Spurrier Jr. seemingly being the obvious choice to replace the Ole Ball Coach when he decides to go,…”

      Uh, are you sure about that?

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