Did the Tennessee loss cost Shawn Elliott a permanent head coaching job?
A few weeks ago, I shared my thoughts on the South Carolina coaching search.
In that story, I wrote this on Shawn Elliott:
If he finishes 6-0 or 5-1 to close the regular season, he’ll be hard to dislodge.
After a narrow defeat at Tennessee, the best he can finish now is 4-2 — and that would take wins over the SEC East champions (Florida) and the nation’s top-ranked team (Clemson).
So, the question of the day remains: Is it possible for Elliott to earn the job?
I’d say it’s possible, but it’s not probable.
I think he’s done an excellent job in a tough situation. The players are engaged, the effort is good and the Gamecocks are only a few bad plays away from being 3-0 under his leadership.
But college football is a results business, and the fact is that, while they came close to pulling upsets against Texas A&M and Tennessee, his team still lost both games.
He’s working his tail off, both on the practice field and on the recruiting trail. But I think he has to run the table in the last three regular season games to be seriously considered for the job.
A win over Florida at Williams-Brice Stadium this week would be a nice boost for the program, and considering that the Gators spent most of last week’s game against Vanderbilt sleepwalking, it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
If that somehow happens, and the Gamecocks avoid disaster against The Citadel next week, Elliott would get a chance to pin a loss on the school’s arch rival in the season finale — and likely ruin Clemson’s national championship dreams in the process.
That would be a particularly large feather for Elliott’s cap, and one that would win him a lot of popular support with fans (and boosters). In fact, that win alone would earn him consideration for the job in the eyes of many.
All of that is possible.
Unfortunately for Elliott, it’s far more likely that Florida will have a course correction and play much better in Columbia this week. It’s also pretty likely that Clemson will exploit what’s been a shaky South Carolina defense and score enough points to win the Palmetto Bowl at the end of the month.
That would mean that Elliott’s 2-4 mark as head coach would match Steve Spurrier’s record for the first half of the campaign.
And that won’t be enough to keep South Carolina from going outside the program to hire its next head coach.