They all know the deal when they sign on. No matter what place at what level, the day will come where a football coach will arrive for work and find a pink slip on his desk or a message to see the head man.
At South Carolina, with no bowl game and the season over in five days, several men are facing uncertain futures.
“People ask, ‘What are you going to do?’ ” linebackers coach Kirk Botkin recently said. “Just blessed to coach another day, that’s the way I look at it.”
Coaches are usually advised to keep a list of what has to happen when The Day comes. Things such as reading the fine print of a lease agreement or how quickly to put the house on the market, planning on when children can get out of school and an updated contact sheet of friends in the coaching business should all be written down somewhere where it’s easily accessible.
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While the Gamecocks’ staff has been remarkably intact for three seasons – all full-timers but Jon Hoke have been at USC since January 2013 (current offensive line coach Travelle Wharton was promoted from quality control assistant when Steve Spurrier resigned) – they all knew that it probably wasn’t going to last forever.
The new coach may keep an assistant or two from the current staff. That’s generally the norm since new coaches often come in with no recruiting connections and want to give their inherited players some degree of carryover.
When Spurrier was hired in 2005, he kept Ron Cooper, David Reaves and Rick Stockstill. Perhaps some of the staff won’t have to uproot themselves for Lord-knows-where.
“Just be professional about it,” defensive line coach Deke Adams said. “I been in this business a long time, and things happen and that’s the way it goes. The best thing is you do what’s best for the kids, and what’s best for them is to continue to coach them hard and do the right things.”
There has been a slippage of energy since Shawn Elliott took over, starting after the Florida game and hitting rock bottom with a loss to The Citadel. The Gamecocks have said they’re ready to play Clemson and that they are ignoring talks of the new coach.
But they’re not deaf. They can read and hear all the rumors of who’s interested and who’s been contacted, and the coaches can as well.
So they try to ignore it as best they can, and prepare for the next game.
Botkin has worked at five colleges in five states during his career, also coaching in high school. Adams has been at eight colleges in six states. Each graduated college in the early 1990s.
That’s the life. Coaches have to be prepared to pick up stakes and take the tent 3,000 miles away if need be, with families often staggered behind to finish the school year or sell the house. It’s understood, even expected, if not easy to take.
They finish the job they’re hired to do, then see what else comes up.
“When I come out here, I come out here to coach these kids and whatever’s going to happen is going to happen,” Adams said. “And when it happens, that’s fine, I’ll deal with it then.”
What they’re making
Salaries for the USC coaching staff:
Jon Hoke;Co-defensive coordinator;$750,000
Lorenzo Ward;Co-defensive coordinator;$750,000
Shawn Elliott;Interim head coach;$400,000
Steve Spurrier, Jr.;Co-offensive coordinator;$400,000
Joe Robinson;Special teams;$375,000
Deke Adams;Defensive line;$320,000
G.A. Mangus:Quarterbacks/tight ends;$320,000
Everette Sands;Running backs;$270,000
Grady Brown;Quality control, defense;$250,000
Joey Blake;Football nutrition;$70,000
Shaq Wilson;Quality control, defense;$60,000
Brian Turk;Quality control, special teams;$60,000
Travelle Wharton;Interim offensive line;$60,000
Scott Spurrier;Quality control, offense;$60,000