Steve Spurrier will call plays next season for the USC football team. The question is will it be Spurrier Sr. or Spurrier Jr.?
While Spurrier Sr. said the offense will remain his responsibility, he said his son, the receivers coach, could be the main playcaller this fall.
“Sometimes you need to delegate a little bit more,” Spurrier said after Friday’s practice.
The elder Spurrier has called plays throughout his coaching career, including his first three at South Carolina. But he thinks his son, who has been on his father’s staff for 11 years, is ready.
“He’s been in a lot of locker rooms,” Spurrier said of his son. “He’s watched me call plays and coach and all that kind of stuff. Maybe he’s ready to do that and maybe it’s best to do that.”
He pointed out that Notre Dame’s Charlie Weis has given up those duties since the end of last season. When searching for a coach who still calls his own plays, Spurrier had to reach for an NFL coach: Tampa Bay’s Jon Gruden, who attended Friday’s practice as part of the Gamecocks’ annual spring coaches clinic.
For years, Spurrier has proudly spoken of being the last of a dying breed, but his mind started to change late last season while preparing a gameplan.
“I’ll never forget, I was writing out the third-and-1 (plays), the red zone (plays), and everybody’s sitting there looking at me,” Spurrier said. “I said, ‘Fellas I’m doing everything right here aren’t I?’ They said ‘yes’. I said, ‘Well, you know what, maybe it’s time to let you guys do a little bit more of it.’ But we all work together.”
Spurrier Jr. is open to the idea and said he wanted as much responsibility as he could get. Still, he called the playcalling situation “nothing terribly different” than before.
“Over the last several springs he’s given me a lot of responsibility, so we’ll get into the spring, see how it looks like,” Spurrier Jr. said.
But the elder Spurrier made it clear several times Friday: Even if someone else is calling plays, he remains the offensive coordinator.
“I’m still in charge of the offense. I’m still overseeing it,” Spurrier Sr. said. “Even if he is the playcaller I’ll be right there, let’s go with this one, remember this one. But you’ve gotta let the playcaller call them, you can’t be telling them every time what to do.”
During an interview with ESPN.com earlier this week, Spurrier Sr. said he didn’t want to coach past age 66, which is four years away.
But Spurrier backed off that statement Friday.
“Next year ask me, and I may say four more years,” he said. “You’ve gotta always operate under four-to-five years to go. That’s what I’m operating under, and I probably said that when I was 55 too. I feel awfully good health-wise. I work out more than I did when I was in my 40s, I guess. So we’ll see how it goes. But it is time to delegate a little bit more than I have in the past.”
Gruden’s visit. Gruden was set to speak to the team Friday night, and he said he was a longtime admirer of Spurier, whom he first met when Gruden’s father coached the Buccanneers and Spurrier was with the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits.
“I don’t get to do a lot of clinic speeches. But I want to make time to get re-acquainted with coach Spurrier,” Gruden said. “He’s legendary in the state of Florida, he had a lot to do with my desire to become a coach years ago. I’m just excited to make some friends tonight, reunite with coach Spurrier.”
Gruden said several of the favorite players he’s coached played at USC, naming Duce Staley, Sterling Sharpe and Robert Brooks. Gruden added that he expected the Gamecocks will be “pretty darn good” next season.
Anderson’s spring over. Starting center Garrett Anderson will miss the rest of spring practice after an abbreviated return from a lower-back injury. Spurrier wasn’t sure if Anderson would require surgery.
Seaver Brown and Ryan Broadhead will step in for Anderson, who played at guard his first two seasons. Spurrier said Anderson might end up shifting back to his old position for the fall.
Extra points. Starting tailback Mike Davis (pulled hamstring) returned to practice and might play in this morning’s scrimmage. ... Defensive end Clifton Geathers was back after missing Wednesday practice. Spurrier wasn’t sure why Geathers was out, saying he thought it was something Geathers “had to take care of academically.”
Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.