South Carolina’s last connection to the Steve Spurrier era and the historic run of the early 2010s is gone.
Gamecocks offensive line coach Shawn Elliott resigned Thursday to take the head coaching job at Georgia State, where he will take over a seven-year-old program that has had one winning season. The Panthers, who were 3-9 last season, fired Trent Miles midseason with a career record of 9-38.
Georgia State announced Elliott’s hiring at 5:13 p.m. Thursday and will hold an 11 a.m. news conference in Atlanta on Friday to introduce Elliott.
Elliott’s name had been connected to the opening since Miles’ firing because Georgia State athletics director Charlie Cobb was the athletics director at Appalachian State when Elliott was an assistant coach for the Mountaineers. Elliott came to the Gamecocks the same year the Panthers started their program – 2010.
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“We set out to find for Georgia State a head coach who will energize our program and assemble a coaching staff that will recruit the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia with zeal. Shawn Elliott is the perfect coach to do just that,” Cobb said in a statement released by Georgia State. “Coach Elliott is a leader and a winner, and we look forward to introducing him to the Panther Family and getting started on a very exciting 2017 year for Georgia State football.”
Elliott, a Camden native, arrived at USC the same year as Marcus Lattimore and helped Spurrier install the zone running scheme in which Lattimore had so much success, carrying South Carolina to the 2010 SEC East title while being named national freshman of the year following a 1,197-yard season.
The Gamecocks went 11-2 in each of the next three seasons before starting a slide that ended with Spurrier’s resignation midway through the 2015 season. Elliott was named South Carolina’s interim head coach following Spurrier’s resignation and beat Vanderbilt in Williams-Brice Stadium in his head coaching debut. However, the Gamecocks lost five straight, including a disappointing loss to The Citadel, to close the season.
When Will Muschamp was hired last December, Elliott was the only Spurrier assistant he retained on his coaching staff, and Elliott helped South Carolina secure the signing of Asheville, N.C., running back Rico Dowdle, who led the Gamecocks in rushing this year with 714 yards on 121 carries.
After endearing himself to the school’s fan base for his passion as interim head coach, Elliott often found himself taking the brunt of fan’s ire the past three seasons. South Carolina gave up more sacks (36) than any team in the SEC during the regular season, and the Gamecocks finished next-to-last in the conference in rushing (138 yards per game).
Georgia State will be the third school of Elliott’s coaching career. After playing defensive end for Appalachian State from 1992-1995, he became a coach at the school and stayed there through the 2009 season. The Mountaineers won three FCS national titles during Elliott’s tenure as an assistant coach. The Panthers also interviewed South Carolina wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon, according to AJC.com.
Cobb told AJC.com that he expected to pay his new coach around $550,000 per year, the same amount paid to Miles. Elliott made $500,000 this year with the Gamecocks. The Panthers plan to play their home games in a revamped Turner Field, the former home of the Atlanta Braves, in 2017.
Early changes to a coaching staff are nothing new for Muschamp, who made multiple changes to his offensive coaching staff while he was the head coach at Florida from 2011-2014, including replacing offensive coordinator Charlie Weis after the first season when Weis became head coach at Kansas.
Elliott is expected to leave South Carolina immediately, meaning Muschamp will have to find someone to coach his offensive line Dec. 29 in the Birmingham Bowl against South Florida. Muschamp did not return a message Thursday seeking comment on Elliott’s decision.
Former South Carolina offensive lineman Cedric Williams, who spent five years as the offensive line coach at Newberry College, is an assistant coach in the team’s strength and conditioning program and could take over the role on a temporary basis. Williams played at South Carolina from 1999-2002 and has interned with three NFL teams.