Mike Bianchi will not make the trip to Columbia to watch top-ranked Florida go against its former coach, USC's Steve Spurrier.
Instead, the long-time Orlando Sentinel sports columnist, who in years past seldom missed a chance to cover the Head Ball Coach, will take in Houston and its Heisman-candidate quarterback, Case Keenum, against Central Florida.
"I'm staying in Orlando," Bianchi said with a chuckle, "because I want to see some offense."
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If anyone had told him in 2005, when Spurrier arrived in Columbia, that this season USC (6-4) would rank 11th in the SEC in scoring and eighth in total offense, Bianchi would have questioned their sanity. Now?
"I'm flabbergasted his offense is not doing anything," Bianchi said. "I thought he'd have a plethora of quarterbacks (who are) able to throw all over the place.
"No one can explain why he hasn't got the talent, why his offense is as pedestrian as it is. I'm shocked; it's inexplicable to me that Steve Spurrier can't move the football."
And he's not alone.
Before Spurrier's inaugural season, The State polled writers and broadcasters from around the country for their predictions on USC's prospects. Most expected a tough road but felt Spurrier would ultimately have success.
But after losses at Tennessee and Arkansas, Spurrier has heard fans and talk-show hosts question his play-calling (or son Steve Jr.'s), his team's talent, even his future at USC.
Asked this week, "Is winning at South Carolina a harder job than you thought when you got here?" Spurrier addressed his coaching staff, mistakes in recruiting, the SEC, before concluding, "Hopefully we can get that going here in the next two or three years."
It's a situation that leaves outside observers scratching their heads - or concluding perhaps the coach has bitten off more than he could chew at USC.
"Steve Spurrier is the most competitive man I've ever met in my life," said Tony Barnhart, who covers college football for CBS and his own Web site. "He takes a lot of pride in what he does as a coach. I sense he's getting to the point where he's frustrated that he's not seeing more progress."
Barnhart sees USC's problems as primarily recruiting issues, especially the offensive-line woes. "They haven't been very good on the offensive line the entire time," he said. "And in this league, if you're not good in the line, it affects everything you try to do."
Talent - and numbers - also is how Dave Neal of ESPN's SEC-TV sees it.
"He's found some winners - but not enough," Neal said. "Out of 85 scholarships, you need maybe 35 all-stars; they only have about 25. And I don't know if they'll ever get to that level."
If not, then USC "is a task that might be more difficult than I thought it would be," said Buddy Martin, CEO of GatorCountry.com and author of books on Spurrier and Florida coach Urban Meyer.
"I expected Steve's offensive genius, his energy, his spirit to be uplifting (for USC)," Martin said. "Everywhere he's been, he's done that. He's still a great football coach, but he may have a task that's too big."
Too big for Steve Spurrier? Some writers have difficulty with the concept.
"Obviously, it hasn't turned out the way he thought it would, or I thought it would," said ESPN.com columnist Gene Wojciechowski. "I think I saw a quote (where Spurrier said), 'I guess I'm just a seven-win coach now,' words to that effect.
"When I heard him say that, it sounded unbelievably un-Spurrier-like."
Thus, when Wojciechowski saw replays of Spurrier slamming visor and clipboard at Arkansas, it was a relief. "I'd be worried if he wasn't throwing things," he said.
"I think he's making progress, getting close. I'm surprised it hasn't gone better, but in Steve Spurrier I trust."
Ironically, the observer who best predicted Spurrier's struggles - ESPN analyst Lee Corso - has the most upbeat take on the Ball Coach.
"He's doing a lot better than I thought," said Corso, who said Spurrier wouldn't win an SEC title given "285 years."
"I'll say it again: He can get good football players, but not enough," Corso said. "Sooner or later, (USC) gets nicked up, and they can't win, they don't have enough depth.
"But he's winning big games like (then-No. 4) Mississippi once in a while. They might catch lightning in a bottle one year (and win an SEC title)."
Before that happens, if it does, Bianchi would like to see the "fun 'n' gun" offensive fireworks for which Spurrier is known.
"I wish the guy would win. College football is a lot more fun when he's winning," Bianchi said. "No one thought, five years later, his team wouldn't be able to score more than 14 on Vanderbilt."