Don’t expect another Steve Spurrier on the sidelines at Williams-Brice Stadium next season, University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides says.
Gamecock Athletic Director Ray Tanner will have make the final choice, but Pastides — chairman of the NCAA Division I board of directors — said on Tuesday that USC could look for a coach who relates well to players and their families with their knowledge about contemporary culture.
Spurrier, 70, was the third-oldest active college football coach before resigning Monday.
“When I look around at great programs today, I see people who are able to relate to players and their families in that way,” Pastides told The State. “So I think coach Tanner would look at that, among many other things.”
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Most of all, USC’s president wants a football coach who can win without breaking the rules.
Pastides spoke with The State after Spurrier, the Gamecocks’ winningest coach, held a news conference announcing he was stepping down midway through his 11th season:
What was your first reaction when he told you he wanted to resign?
Pastides was in Atlanta at a meeting with other Southeastern Conference presidents on Monday when took a call from Spurrier.
“In the way he said it, I knew it wasn’t a negotiation. I know it wasn’t a, ‘What do you think?’ It was very much, ‘This was my opinion,’ so I accepted it. … I tried to talk him out of leaving immediately. I understood that his decision was firm and I said, ‘We can announce it tomorrow and why not say you’re leaving at the end of the season.’ And that’s when he talked about player accountability. He told me the story of his last game at Duke when he had been announced as the Florida coach. It didn’t go so well, because the players were like, ‘You’re not going to be here, so I’m not really sure you’re my head coach anymore.’ And he didn’t want that to happen this year.”
How has the culture at USC changed under Spurrier?
Pastides recalled something his wife, Patricia, said after his first two years on campus when USC went a combined 1-21 in 1998 and 1999.
“She said to me, ‘Hey, people are really nice here. They don’t seem to care if you win. They come out for a good time.’ And I said, ‘That’s not the sign of a great university. That is the sign of complacency.’ I think Coach Spurrier taught us that winning is to be expected. So instead of ‘Wait until next year,” it’s like, ‘Do it again next year.’ And we’ve had a little slip and so I think he, like the rest of us, want us to get back to our winning ways.”
How do you handle potential fan disappointment if USC does not hire another legendary big-name coach like Spurrier or his predecessor Lou Holtz?
Pastides mentioned how Spurrier told reporters Tuesday that he might have been the right coach for USC in 2004, but that he was no longer the right coach.
“He’s probably not necessarily the model of who coach Tanner will be looking for. It’s a different day and age. Players are different. Expectations are different. So I don’t think we’re looking for someone exactly like coach Spurrier. I think the fans will be happy with a proven record of accomplishment, integrity and someone who can relate well to his players, his coaches and the fans. I think they’re out there. I tell you I have no idea who that might be.”
What has changed for coaches in dealing with players?
“We’re talking about the ability to go into a recruit’s kitchen or living room and talk to their family and be a little more contemporary with their knowledge about contemporary events and social media and the cultural thing.”
But isn’t it important to find a coach who can help win over donors?
“I don’t think that’s in the top 10 list of finding a coach. If they do a good job, winning football games and playing by the rules with integrity, we’re going to do great in fundraising.”
What does it means that Spurrier departs without recruiting or player behavior controversies hanging over the program?
“It’s great. Sometimes you want turn the page, but the page is sticky. Or the page doesn’t want to turn. In this case, and let me give him credit again, he was so confirmed in his decision yesterday. He didn’t call me with a request . He didn’t call me with a negotiating platform.”
Do you think Spurrier will become an ambassador for the school as written in his contract?
“I just think he needs some time. It wasn’t the right time to talk about it yesterday. He assured me he wasn’t going far away. … What I would have in mind is some public speaking, some ambassadorial things, maybe working in our leadership initiative.”
What about a “fundraiser in chief” role?
“I like to have some control over my fundraisers. I don’t think I can control the coach that much.”
Should Spurrier be honored at a game this season?
"The fans I've heard from, their disappointment wasn't necessarily with the decision, but that they wouldn't get to see him on the field. And I think we need to get him on the field this year to let the fans in that stadium salute him. Even if he doesn't want it, I think the fans really deserve that."