South Carolina co-offensive coordinator Shawn Elliott took a firsthand look this week at the gold standard of Southeastern Conference football and returned to Columbia hoping to help replicate it with the Gamecocks.
Elliott interviewed Thursday for Alabama’s offensive line coaching position but called head coach Steve Spurrier on Friday at 2 p.m. to inform him he was staying in Columbia.
“I think we can build what they have here,” Elliott told The State. “The sky is the limit for us. I am excited about where we can go.”
Elliott joined South Carolina’s coaching staff in 2010 after 13 seasons as an assistant coach at Appalachian State. He was promoted from offensive line coach to co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach prior to this season.
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“We are doing great things here,” Elliott said. “I made a commitment to the University of South Carolina. I am just excited about where we can take it. It would take a special opportunity to lure me away from this place. The University of Alabama was very, very intriguing. I wanted to go down there and see how they did it, what they did, what their staff looked like. It was a very interesting proposition for me, so I went to investigate.”
Alabama has won three of the last four BCS national titles. Its former offensive line coach, Jeff Stoutland, left to take a job with the Philadelphia Eagles. A website covering Alabama, Bama247.com, reported Friday that Elliott was offered the Crimson Tide job, but Elliott did not confirm that.
“It was a simultaneous act,” Elliott said. “As I was calling (to withdraw), (Alabama head coach Nick Saban) was calling.”
Elliott, a Camden native, made $300,000 last season. He and most of South Carolina’s assistant coaches will receive raises and have their two-year contracts renewed before the 2013 season, Spurrier said.
“Not huge ones, a little bump,” Spurrier said.
(Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus remains in a pay freeze as punishment for a 2011 arrest on a nuisance conduct charge.)
Spurrier “didn’t like” the fact that Elliott interviewed for a job that would have been the equivalent of his current position, Spurrier said.
“I told him I didn’t like that,” Spurrier said. “Later, he said, ‘I really just wanted to go over there and see how they operate, and I learned a lot on the visit.’ I was sort of calling back and forth about, ‘Hey, this thing is not going to linger around.’ I wanted to make sure he’s either with us or gone. He said, ‘I can’t take that job over there.’ I said, ‘Well I didn’t think so.’ ”
Spurrier believes Elliott likes the underdog role like he does, Spurrier said.
“Some people in life like being a little bit of the underdog, which is me,” he said. “I don’t want to play for the Yankees. I don’t want to have the advantages and so forth, and clearly now Alabama is a school that has all the advantages. They get the No. 1 recruiting class almost every year and they are going to be picked to win almost every year. Kids out of high school, a lot of them like that. They want to be on that team, and there are some that say, ‘Hey, I want to go somewhere they have never won before and see if I can help them win.’
“We’ve got a good program here. They’ve got one of the best in the country. We have a very good one here, and he’d prefer to be here, simple as that.”