The whispers are growing louder. A couple of more losses and they will become deafening. The talk is about how Steve Spurrier should step aside as South Carolina's football coach.
I am here to tell you folks that you are nuts.
First of all, Spurrier is going nowhere. He remains as driven as ever to push USC to new heights. He also has the support of Eric Hyman, his athletics director, even though Hyman defers to his policy of not commenting on such matters during the season.
So why all the talk about Spurrier resigning? Why all the chatter about how he needs to turn the reins over to a younger, more energetic coach? Why all the buzz about how the legendary coach can't coach anymore?
Here is what all that clamoring is about: USC and its fans long have failed to recognize a good thing when they see it. Having suffered through generations of hit-and-mostly-miss football, they naturally believe every new coach can be the instant solution to all of the program's problems. They naturally are disappointed.
So when Spurrier arrived in 2005, USC fans believed he could be a miracle worker. He was not. Spurrier found quickly that winning big at USC is a much more difficult task than what he faced at either Florida or Duke.
He discovered that overcoming more than a century of mediocrity takes more than five seasons. Heck, Rex Enright could not overcome the program's consistent malaise in two coaching stints that covered 15 seasons. Paul Dietzel had his moments, but in nine seasons he had a losing record.
Jim Carlen managed a winning record over seven seasons, and Joe Morrison produced a couple of outstanding teams and a winning mark in six seasons before his death.
That is a pretty fine lineup of coaches who have come, not conquered and departed. Some were chased away. Others threw up their arms in disgust. Most of USC's 31 previous coaches were shown the guillotine rather unceremoniously, some too soon, some not soon enough.
What is puzzling to me, though, is that the same fans who want to kick Spurrier in the fanny on the way out the door wanted to hug Lou Holtz and keep him aboard. Holtz had a losing record, brought NCAA probation to the school and left the program in shambles.
It should have taken Spurrier five seasons just to wipe away the grime left behind by Holtz. Instead, Spurrier led USC to a 5-3 record in the SEC and a bowl game in his first season.
Spurrier also has avoided a losing season. In case you were wondering, the last USC coach to have that kind of sustained success was Billy Laval - from 1928 to 1934.
Spurrier has produced a 34-26 record and will send a team to a bowl game for the fourth time in five seasons. It might not seem like it in the midst of a two-game losing streak and another season-ending fade, but Spurrier has provided much-needed hope for the program.
That hope rests in the foundation he has built. It also rests in a coaching staff that might be as strong as any Spurrier has assembled. Additionally, Spurrier has used his name to sell the program, and a couple of strong recruiting classes bode well for the next couple of seasons.
Finally, Spurrier has shown a willingness to adapt and change. He abandoned his offense to suit the needs of quarterback Syvelle Newton in 2006, and in so doing salvaged that season. He recognized the need to weed out some old friends on his coaching staff.
Spurrier also has become less hands-on, turning over the bulk of the play-calling to Steve Spurrier Jr. and allowing assistant G.A. Mangus to tutor quarterback Stephen Garcia. The results have been mixed on both counts, but they were necessary moves that will help USC's cause in the long run.
Has Spurrier made mistakes? Sure. His public criticism of players and coaches no longer is an effective motivational tool. His inability to get his offense to play with discipline has been maddening, at best.
The biggest of Spurrier's mistakes has been an inability to win a championship fast enough to satisfy USC's fan base.
Telling a crowd that has waited more than 100 years for championship football to be more patient seems like an exercise in futility. Yet that is what USC needs, because the payoff is going to be great.
Let's see how this young and talented team fares the next couple of seasons. It looks as if the balance of power is shifting in the SEC from the East Division to the West. So the opportunity for success is there.
If, after the 2011 season, Spurrier has not positioned his club to compete for an SEC East championship, then it might be time for him to step aside. Until then, the idea that Spurrier should retire or be fired is just plain nuts.