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Spurrier puts coaching hires on hold

Woody McCorvey
Woody McCorvey

Addition to Steve Spurrier’s New Year’s resolutions list: Do not rush any more coaching hires.

Brian VanGorder’s 17-day tenure in Columbia as South Carolina’s defensive coordinator was Joe Paterno-like compared to Woody McCorvey’s stint.

The ex-Mississippi State coach was hired Tuesday evening; by Wednesday morning, the deal was dead.

Spurrier said the reason McCorvey is not coming to Columbia for a second tour as the Gamecocks’ receivers coach had more to do with a change of heart by Spurrier than disagreement about the length of the contract.

“I take all the blame for it,” Spurrier said. “Sometimes you need to sleep on those things. I should have slept on it and thought about it a little bit more. He’s a good coach, and he’s a good person. I just don’t know right now that that’s what we need to do.”

While Spurrier acknowledged the 58-year-old McCorvey was seeking a two-year contract, he said that was not a deal-breaker. Spurrier also disputed a broadcast report that USC athletics director Eric Hyman nixed the deal because he was not comfortable giving McCorvey a two-year contract.

“That’s not exactly true,” Spurrier said. “He asked for one, and then when I got back with him, I said we normally don’t do two-year deals for position coaches. ... Eric Hyman had nothing at all to do with him coming or not coming.”

The two coordinators Spurrier hired last offseason, Ellis Johnson (defense) and Ray Rychleski (special teams), are the only Gamecocks assistants with multiyear deals.

Spurrier said he began having second thoughts Tuesday night, woke up Wednesday and called McCorvey.

“Sometimes those things happen on both sides. I talked with him and said, ‘I need to put this thing on hold. We’re not going to do anything until after the bowl game,’ ” Spurrier said. “In other words, I woke up and said I made a mistake yesterday and tried to correct it as quickly as possible.”

Attempts to reach McCorvey were unsuccessful.

McCorvey, who coached at USC in 1998 during Brad Scott’s final year, spent the past five seasons as Sylvester Croom’s offensive coordinator at Mississippi State. During his tenure, the Bulldogs never finished in the top 100 in total offense in the 119-team Football Bowl Subdivision.

The about-face means Spurrier has two offensive vacancies to fill following his firing of offensive line coach John Hunt and the departure of assistant quarterbacks coach David Reaves to Tennessee to join his brother-in-law, Lane Kiffin.

Spurrier said he plans to wait until after the Gamecocks’ bowl game, likely the Outback on New Year’s Day, before making the hires.

Spurrier is expected to shift his son Steve Spurrier Jr. from receivers coach to quarterbacks coach. Spurrier Jr. will be the passing-game coordinator, while the new line coach will oversee the running game, Spurrier said.

The Gamecocks are last in the SEC in rushing for the second consecutive year and 108th nationally with an average of 98.3 yards per game.

“We’re going to try to learn how to run the ball this spring,” Spurrier said.

A pair of possible candidates for the offensive line position, TCU’s Eddie Williamson and Vanderbilt’s Robbie Caldwell, will be coaching in bowl games and likely would not be available until January.

In the meantime, graduate assistant Cedric Williams will coach the line, Spurrier Jr. will remain with the receivers through the bowl game and Spurrier will stick with the quarterbacks.

“I’m going to coach the heck out of (Stephen) Garcia and Chris Smelley and hopefully get them throwing where they’re supposed to 80 percent of the time,” he said. “If we can do that, we’ll have a fighting chance.”

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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