South Carolina overcame as much adversity on the field as anybody this season. Now the program faces a different type of adversity, from a different type of opponent.
This new adversity is called instability. It comes in many different shapes, many different sizes, and from many different directions. It is a perpetual enemy that can destroy a program from the inside out and it is up to a few individuals to repress it.
Luckily they are the exact individuals we need.
Losing Jay Graham was a tough blow. He was a good coach and an excellent recruiter. His departure sets the program back with all of the young recruits he was reaching out to on a daily basis. It is also difficult for the current stable of running backs on the roster, as they now find themselves unsure who their next coach will be.
Mounting on top of that is the confirmation that Ellis Johnson is on the short list of candidates to replace Larry Fedora at Southern Mississippi. Though nothing has been decided and the interview hasn’t even taken place yet, it is impossible to ignore what the loss of such a prominent figure would do to the program.
Next, and possibly most threatening, is the impending meeting with the NCAA’s Infractions Committee in February.
That entire situation has been an extraordinarily unfortunate one. Though nothing on the level of Ohio State, Southern Cal, or Miami, it threatens to derail the program’s recent success through sanctions that can range from losing scholarships - which is an infraction the school has self-imposed already - to vacating wins from the 2009-2010 season.
So what did the South Carolina program do to fight this instability? What step did the Athletic Department take to help ensure continued success and assure fans that the ship is not going down?
They gave Steve Spurrier a contract extension. They trusted the visor.
This little move speaks measures if you read between the lines. It says there is confidence that Steve Spurrier can continue to bring success to the program. It says that the program’s leader, the one who ultimately decides what happens on a daily basis, will stay the same. It says that the Athletic Department is confident the NCAA will see exactly what it does; that Steve Spurrier and his coaches have done nothing wrong.
Keep in mind that this is not Steve Spurrier’s first rodeo. The “Head Ball Coach” has been in tough situations before and has come out on top more times than not. Gamecock fans can all take comfort knowing that Spurrier is working diligently to ensure continued success.
Frankly, we don’t know if we will lose Ellis Johnson. He has spoken previously of wanting to retire in the great state of South Carolina and is very well compensated for his work on the defensive side of the ball. However, if Johnson does become the next head coach at Southern Miss, Spurrier knows how to bring someone in who will continue to keep our defense ranked among the best in the country.
Remember when Eric Wolford left and everyone was worried that what little improvement our offensive line had made under him would be for naught? Now think about the major improvements it has shown in the two years since Shawn Elliott was hired. This is just another example of Spurrier facing a challenge and coming out on top.
Speaking of Elliott, he and Spurrier Jr. have both taken their names out of consideration for the head-coaching job at Coastal Carolina. Their actions clearly show their confidence in the direction of the program and the coach they currently work for.
Also, ponder this: would you rather face the threat of losing coaches to other schools because they did an excellent job here, or would you rather have “no worries” because they did a mediocre job?
Steve Spurrier knows how to hire a good coach. Trust the visor.
Eric Hyman and the athletic department have prepared an excellent statement for the NCAA Infractions Committee that details exactly what was done, why it was done, and how it can be remedied. They clearly proved that the infractions committed were not the fault of the coaching staff, nor were they offenses that were committed purposefully. All infractions were simply “good-faith” errors and through the demotion of certain individuals as well as self-imposed sanctions, the University is demonstrating that all efforts have been taking to ensure that no further problems will arise.
Still though, Steve Spurrier will have to go before this committee and explain his side of the story.
I have little doubt what will happen when he does that.
South Carolina’s head coach will get up in front of a panel and ensure the NCAA that any and all errors were not the fault of the coaching staff and thus they should not be held accountable for them. He will convince them that the self-imposed sanctions are more than acceptable. He will be swift, efficient, and knowledgeable. He will instill confidence within the members of the NCAA that South Carolina runs a clean program.
Steve Spurrier knows he did nothing wrong. Trust the visor.
“But I love Honesty, and, therefore; do I make great account of facts.”
- Gerrit Smith
So now it is time as fans to sit back and look at the big picture.
Steve Spurrier receiving a contract extension is the best thing that could have happened for this program, and it has come at exactly the right time.
Strong, consistent programs don’t come to be overnight. Plans need to be made, foundations need to be poured, and talent needs to be accumulated. South Carolina has shown over the past few seasons that it is a program on the rise and by agreeing to a contract extension (with no raise, mind you) Spurrier is letting everyone know that he doesn’t just want South Carolina to be good while he is here; he wants it to be great even after he is gone.
The Head Ball Coach is leading us down a path less traveled; one that takes more time but garners consistent success. It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t always easy, but we are now at a point where the players, coaches, and fans all expect to win every game. It wasn’t achieved through gimmicks, it wasn’t achieved through luck, and it definitely wasn’t achieved through cheating.
Just remember, meteoric rises always lead to meteoric collapses.
I wonder if they heard that in the upstate?
South Carolina is getting prepared for the highest profile Bowl in the program’s history against a nationally recognized name in Nebraska. The Gamecocks have found a quarterback who enjoys putting in the work necessary to lead a team. USC has a defense that is one of the best in the nation that is full of juniors; many of whom are showing interest in returning for their senior year. They are within grasp of an 11-win season.
Whenever I get nervous, I just remember this fact: The South Carolina Gamecocks have the best head coach in the nation.
Trust the visor.
Want to enjoy all of the premium content on TheBigSpur.com? Click HERE to find out how to receive access to the latest in South Carolina athletics. Get all the breaking news, insight from the best staff of insiders in the market, and join a lively message board community. Also check out our recruiting database, get free text alerts, and enjoy quality content from football, basketball, baseball, and other Olympic sports.