South Carolina’s winningest all-time football coach plans to be back in the job for an 11th season in 2015, but that’s about as much of the future as Steve Spurrier is ready to talk about at the moment.
“The plan is to definitely be back here and so forth,” Spurrier told The State on Tuesday. “Just say that’s the plan.”Spurrier declined to discuss his future further or to predict what he might do with his coaching staff after the season.
“You probably have some questions that I’m going to have a tough time answering,” he said. “If it’s got anything to do with coaches coming back next year, me coming back next year, I am just going to refrain from all of that. Let’s get through this season here and see where we are all at is probably the smartest thing for all of us to do right now.”
South Carolina is 4-5 overall and 2-5 in the SEC after losing its fourth straight conference game to Tennessee last week. The Gamecocks are ranked last in the SEC in defense.
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“It hasn’t been as much fun as the last four years that’s for sure,” Spurrier said.
Spurrier, who is in his 10th season with the Gamecocks, is 81-44, including 43-36 in the SEC, at South Carolina. He is the second winningest active coach in major college football with 223 wins at South Carolina, Florida and Duke, and his .727 career winning percentage is 12th among active coaches.
The Gamecocks entered the season riding the momentum of three straight 11-win seasons and were ranked No. 9 in the country in the preseason.
“Gosh amighty, I didn’t see all this coming,” Spurrier said. “I don’t think anybody did. The sad part is the games have been winnable but something has happened to us at the end. It is what it is. We have to regroup and keep fighting, try to get these guys positive and see if we can get a ball to bounce our way maybe late in a game or so forth.”
South Carolina has an open date this weekend and returns to active Nov. 15 at Florida.
“I was telling our coaching staff, I think Taylor Swift’s got a song called ‘Shake it Off,’” Spurrier said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, shake it off and get ready for the Florida Gators next week. That’s what we’re going to try to do, see if we can regroup and try to win a close game. You know we’ve had our share of close ones, though we’ve struggled on defense and so forth.”
The Gamecocks have surrendered two touchdowns leads in the fourth quarter of three games this season and haven’t won an SEC game since Sept. 20 at Vanderbilt.
“I have never had this many games similar,” Spurrier said. “Stuff happens that used to happen to the other team seems like, started happening to us.”
Asked how quickly South Carolina’s issues could be fixed, Spurrier replied, “That’s a good question right there.”
“We’ve got we believe a lot of help on the way next year, but that’s a good question,” he said. “We haven’t had a pass rush all year and then we have struggled against the run. I don’t know. We have made some stops here and there. Heck, our guys stopped them in the overtime (against Tennessee), and we couldn’t get a pass off all of a sudden. The protection really broke down. I don’t know how much the guys can start playing better, but we’re going to keep coaching the heck out of them.”
The Gamecocks must win two of their final three games to qualify for a seventh straight bowl game, but the team’s goals are more basic than that at this point, Spurrier said.
“We have talked about tackling better,” he said. “Obviously, we don’t tackle very well. Offensively, we just have to finish the game, got to make first downs late in the game and so forth. Maybe we need to keep scoring all the way through the game, that would probably be a better philosophy than trying to make first downs it seems like.
Anyway, get lined up, tackle on defense and finish the game offensively.”