Saying goodbye to Shawn Elliott — What is his legacy?
There’s an old saying that goes “history is written by the victors.”
If that’s true, it isn’t likely to be kind to South Carolina interim coach Shawn Elliott.
Since he took over for Steve Spurrier, Elliott has been in charge of the Gamecocks for five games. He won the first one, 19-10 over Vanderbilt, and hasn’t tasted victory since.
And last weekend was a new low, even by 2015’s modest standards, falling 23-22 to The Citadel.
The last chance to write a different narrative for his brief tenure as South Carolina coach is this weekend, when top-ranked Clemson visits Williams-Brice Stadium (noon ET, ESPN).
More likely than not, though, his time as head coach in Columbia will finish with a 1-5 record. So, what’s it mean?
GRADING ON A CURVE
It’s worth noting that Elliott wasn’t handed the keys to a Ferrari. When he took over, the Gamecocks were 2-4, and coming off a 45-24 loss in a “home” game at LSU (thanks to flooding in the state in early October).
If you want to describe the program as being in disarray now, that’s fine. But, that condition hasn’t gotten any worse under Elliott. The same problems that exist now — a talent gap because of poor recruiting, suspect coaching decisions, etc. — were already there when he stepped into Spurrier’s shoes.
It was a near-impossible task. Changing the direction of a team in midseason is difficult and Elliott had only four days before his first game.
A CAROLINA MAN
The wins and losses haven’t been there. But there is an undeniable renewal of energy and enthusiasm coming from the head coach and his staff.
Elliott is a Camden native who grew up loving the Gamecocks. His passion and desire for the program are not in question.
Stepping in for Spurrier was a tough job, but Elliott faced the challenge with gusto and spirit.
History may judge Elliott as being unready for a high-profile coaching job at an SEC school. People will look at the 1-5 (or an optimist’s 2-4) record and say that he clearly wasn’t the right guy to lead the program.
That can’t be disputed. But while it’s safe to say that he’s not the right man to take the program into 2016, he was the right guy to lead during a dismal 2015.
He stood tall, answered the hard questions and never wavered in his love for the school and its football team. He was an example for his fellow coaches and players, and gave a Herculean task his very best effort.
It’s too soon to know what course athletic director Ray Tanner will take with the hiring of a new coach. But he made a good decision putting Elliott in charge for the rest of the season.