With Sunday’s firing of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, the SEC East is already without two of its seven head coaches.
Kentucky’s Joker Phillips was fired last week. The conference’s Western Division may see two casualties soon as Arkansas’ John L. Smith is expected to be released and Auburn’s Gene Chizik could be fired.
“It’s an unfortunate part of our business,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday. “We all understand it. I like Derek Dooley. I think he’s a good person. I think he’s a pretty good coach. It just didn’t work out.”
A late fumble cost the Volunteers a chance to beat South Carolina earlier this year, and Tennessee had similar close calls against Georgia and Florida, but the Volunteers fell to 0-7 in the SEC after Saturday’s 41-18 loss to Vanderbilt.
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“They were in I don’t know how many ball games this year that somehow or another they found a way to lose most of them,” Spurrier said. “When you get in the coaching profession, you understand these things can happen. You always hope it doesn’t happen to you, but you understand these things do happen. You understand the administration, that’s what they have to do, they have to make changes if it’s not working.”
The Volunteers were Spurrier’s chief rival when he coached Florida through the 1990s, but the program has fallen on some of its hardest times since. Next season, Spurrier will face his fourth Tennessee coach in the eight years he has been at South Carolina.
“It can happen to any program,” Spurrier said. “The sun doesn’t always shine on the same dog all the time as we know.”
Bruce Ellington, the Gamecocks leading receiver with 31 catches for 492 yards, is expected to be available after bruising his right hand and spraining his wrist against Wofford on Saturday.
“He came back and said he could have played if we needed him, but he should be OK,” Spurrier said.
Quarterback Connor Shaw (foot) and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (foot, knee) will be held out of practice at least through the first half of the week and may or may not be available against the Tigers.
No dogs allowed
In the future, Spurrier would be fine without Wofford on the schedule.
“If you’re going to have a good record, you don’t need to schedule 12 guys who have a chance to beat you,” he said. “I knew we scheduled Wofford. I’m saying in the future, maybe They’re pretty good. Every time we play these guys they have a chance to beat us. It’s been nip and tuck. Today was just like all the rest of them.”