In the 22 hours between the end of Saturday’s South Carolina-Florida game and Steve Spurrier’s regular Sunday teleconference, Spurrier’s postgame fear was realized.
The Gators fired coach Will Muschamp one day after a 23-20 overtime loss to the Gamecocks, an outcome every bit as shocking as South Carolina’s own late losses to Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri.
“Will is a good person. I think he’s a very good coach,” Spurrier said. “He’s sort of been unlucky as you would say. We all complain about close losses, but he has had his share of them. Unfortunately, coaches we are all based on whatever your record is, and it appears Florida has decided it wants to make a change. He’s a good coach, and I’m sure if he wants to coach next year there will be a lot of people who would hire him.”
Naturally, Muschamp’s ouster led Spurrier to be asked if he would have any interest in returning to his alma mater, where he coached for 12 seasons.
“No, I’ve already had my run at Florida,” he said. “They need to hire a coach that, hopefully, will be there 10 years.”
The Gators fell to 27-20 in Muschamp’s four seasons after Saturday’s loss. Spurrier’s close relationship with Muschamp, not to mention that Muschamp’s defense held Spurrier to fewer than 20 points in regulation in each of their four meetings, has led to speculation that Muschamp could join Spurrier’s staff at some point in the future.
“I don’t have any comment one way or another on that,” Spurrier said.
The Gamecocks looked a lot less like a team that needed changes on their defensive coaching staff against Florida. South Carolina held the Gators to 278 yards, the fewest by an opponent this season. The Gamecocks held Florida to 41 yards after the third quarter and made a late stop in regulation that forced the punt that South Carolina blocked to set up the game-tying score.
“We’ve got good coaches,” Spurrier said. “They are coaching their tail off. Our D-line played their best game maybe yesterday. We didn’t get blocked like we have a lot of games. That was encouraging. We think we’ve got a lot of top kids committed for next year, but we have to wait until next year to worry about all that.”
As for Spurrier’s plans for 2015, he declined to say if Saturday’s win would factor into his thinking about his future.
“Oh, I don’t need to talk about that,” he said. “Let’s talk about South Alabama. That’s what I need to talk about.”
The Gamecocks (5-5) can become bowl eligible with a victory against the Jaguars (6-4), who are out of the Sun Belt Conference.
The Gamecocks are “in good shape, injury-wise,” Spurrier said.
Saturday will be Senior Day, and the Gamecocks will recognize their seniors, and perhaps several juniors who are considering leaving school, before the game.
“I haven’t even seen that list yet,” Spurrier said. Junior running back Mike Davis “may walk with the seniors. If he does, that’s fine.”