Steve Spurrier retires as one of the greatest coaches and personalities in SEC history.

He’s second on the all-time wins list to Bear Bryant, and he’s the all-time wins leader at Florida and South Carolina. His accolades and resume are too long to mention here.

But, in his final months at South Carolina, Spurrier came under intense scrutiny. His team won 10 games in three consecutive seasons. Then the Gamecocks underwhelmed as an SEC East preseason co-favorite in 2014, eventually beating Miami in a meaningless bowl game.

After many questioned whether his days in Columbia were numbered — fueled by a pensive post-season quote from Spurrier himself — he held an impromptu press conference to warn his “enemies” in the media and otherwise that South Carolina was not done winning football games under his watch.

A few weeks later, he abruptly resigned with much of the season remaining.

The end of his career ultimately will be but a footnote, but he’s received his share of criticism this year. On Tuesday, he wrote an open letter to South Carolina fans that appeared in The State newspaper. A large portion of the letter served as a justification and defense of his resignation, especially the timing.

You can read the entire letter here.

Some of the highlights:

  • “I felt that I was doing a lousy job as head coach and a change would help our team become more competitive.”
  • “I told our team after I resigned that they needed new leadership, new enthusiasm and a new plan.”
  • “I certainly believe, as the media has said, that our team played better after I resigned.”
  • “When I mentioned I may coach again, I meant possibly as a volunteer coach at a high school. After thirty years as a head coach, I positively know that my head coaching career is finished.”
  • “I understand the critics have asked why I didn’t announce I was retiring at the end of the season, as some other coaches have done. I felt that if I had done this, I would have been a distraction throughout the remainder of the season about my last game everywhere I went. I did not want a “Spurrier Farewell Tour.” The players deserve to be the story of each game. Also, it would have prevented Shawn Elliott, a coach that has loved the South Carolina Gamecocks his whole life, from getting the shot to be the interim head coach, with the possibility of becoming the Head Coach here.”
  • “Our university was not going to fire me, so I thought it was best for our team that I basically fire myself by resigning.”