He came to South Carolina with a simple question.
“Why not us?” Steve Spurrier asked on Nov. 23, 2004 when he was introduced as the school’s football coach.
Thirty-one men had tried to answer that question before as the Gamecocks head football coach and only Rex Enright had won more than 45 games, but there was hope on that day that the man who had tormented the Gamecocks and most of the SEC during an entertaining 12-year run at Florida could finally give South Carolina fans the answer they wanted.
“There was nowhere to go but up. I like those situations,” Spurrier said. “I thought it was a place that had not reached its potential yet. It was very similar to when I went to Florida in 1990. They had not reached their potential prior to that. I was lucky to be there at the right time in the right place. That’s what coaching is all about – get somewhere at the right time in the right place with some good players.”
It finally came together in 2010 when the Gamecocks won the SEC’s Eastern Division. In the next three seasons, the team won an unprecedented 33 games, and Spurrier put together an impressive list of school first’s in 10-plus seasons – 11-win season (2011), top 10 national finish (2011), six-win SEC season (2011), defeat of a No. 1 team (Alabama, 2010), beating Georgia, Tennessee and Florida in the same season (2010) and five straight seasons with seven or more wins, to name some of the highlights.
Along the way, Spurrier became the winningest coach in school history, compiling an 86-49 record before resigning midway through the 2015 season.
This week, Spurrier’s latest role was announced: ambassador for the university.
About this series: The inaugural edition of The State newspaper was published Feb. 18, 1891. In anticipation of the 125th anniversary, the Palmetto section and this section at thestate.com are recounting each day how The State covered newsmakers and events vital to South Carolina’s history.