The winningest coach in South Carolina history did it like he always said he would – his way.
Spurrier’s decision to abruptly retire in the middle of a 2-4 season sent shockwaves throughout South Carolina on Monday night. As surprising as it was, it wasn’t that surprising upon reflection – Spurrier always said he never wanted to stay too long, and left before he could be hit with that tag.
Spurrier leaves as USC’s all-time winningest coach who took the Gamecocks to heights they had never seen. His 86 career wins are 22 more than the former leader, Rex Enright, who won 64 games in two stops over 15 seasons. Spurrier got his in less than 11 seasons.
Spurrier also won the most games in a single season at USC, notching 11 each in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He claimed the school’s only SEC divisional championship and leaves with 228 career wins, 13th on the list of college football’s career winningest coaches.
Under Spurrier, the Gamecocks were bowl-eligible in every one of his first 10 seasons, playing in a bowl game in nine. USC had been to 11 bowl games total before he arrived.
Spurrier also beat nemeses Tennessee, Florida and Clemson a combined 16 times, with an unprecedented five consecutive wins over the Tigers.
Spurrier’s time at USC didn’t quite match his immense success at Florida, where he won six SEC championships, one national title and had nine top-10 finishes, but he took the Gamecocks where they had always dreamed of being but had hardly ever been. Proclaiming “Why not us?” after he was hired in November 2004, Spurrier said he took the job for the challenge – getting back in college after a disastrous two-year run with the Washington Redskins, back to the league he had owned as a player and coach and back at a school, like Duke and Florida, that had never had large success.
Spurrier’s proclamations outweighed the results at first, although he did take the team to winning seasons and bowl games. It all changed when he signed in-state product Stephon Gilmore in 2009 – the Rock Hill prospect began a run of highly coveted local stars.
Marcus Lattimore chose the Gamecocks in 2010 and led them to the SEC East championship, and he was followed by Alshon Jeffery and the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit, Jadeveon Clowney. A lightly-regarded prospect from Flowery Branch, Ga., came in with Lattimore and left as the Gamecocks’ all-time winningest quarterback, Connor Shaw proving that Spurrier still had the magic when it came to coaching signal-callers.
Spurrier took the Gamecocks to their highest national finish (fourth) and beat a No. 1 team for the first time in their history. He is one of four men to record 100 or more wins as an SEC coach against SEC competition, joining Bear Bryant, John Vaught and Vince Dooley.
By the years
Steve Spurrier is retiring in his 11th season as the Gamecocks’ head coach. He leaves as the team’s all-time winningest coach: