The eight-week period from mid-October until mid-December was a whirlwind of emotions for South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott.
Elliott went from offensive line coach to interim coach back to offensive line coach. The Camden native interviewed for the USC coaching job, along with the top spot at East Carolina. But when he finally accepted a spot on Will Muschamp’s staff in the same role he held the previous 5 1/2 seasons under Steve Spurrier, Elliott was where he wanted to be.
Elliott’s the only member of Spurrier’s staff who was retained.
“I’m very fortunate,” Elliott said. “A lot of times, you see the interim coach that is potentially up for the head job not get held over. He (Muschamp) was straightforward with me. He knew my love for the University of South Carolina and this great state. He knew I only want to do great things for this program. He asked if I wanted to stay around and help him build it.”
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Elliott looks back at his six-game run as interim coach fondly. He said he feels like he became a better coach when the Gamecocks went 1-5 to close the season. His goal is to be a head coach again one day, but he’s satisfied with where he is now.
“You have to have a lot of patience,” he said. “You wear many hats for a lot of different parts of our program. A lot of things, I felt like I already knew or could handle. You always think you can handle it and wish you could handle, but before you get thrown in the fire you don’t know if you can do it. I found out that I could do it.
“You work in so many different areas other than just X’s and O’s. You’re thinking recruiting, team morale and so many different things.”
Elliott said he wishes things could have turned out differently in his six-game audition. South Carolina became more competitive during those games, with the only win over Vanderbilt.
“The losing was the hard part,” Elliott said. “I never woke up or went to bed thinking, ‘I wish this wouldn’t have happened.’ It was a great experience. I loved everything about it. A couple of more wins here and there would have made it much more enjoyable. But the thrill of leading a football team … was such a privilege.”
It didn’t take long for Muschamp to make an offer to Elliott. Soon after Muschamp was introduced, he and Elliott took off on recruiting visits.
“It’s important to have him on the staff because he’s a really good football coach,” Muschamp said. “I think he’s done a great job at South Carolina. He’s an outstanding recruiter, he’s a great man and a really good fit for our staff and what we’re trying to do.”
Now Elliott returns to being in charge of the USC offensive line. His focus the next several weeks will be on recruiting, but then he has to turn his attention to an offensive line that lost three major contributors – left tackle Brandon Shell, guard/tackle Mike Matulis and right guard Will Sport.
Elliott’s excited to get back to work.
“I was still their offensive line coach, I just had other things, too, that I was having to do at that time,” Elliott said. “They know who the head coach is now, they know who the offensive line coach is. Not a problem. I’ll step right back into that room and go back about business.”