It's Not the Same Old Ball Coach

Brad Scott couldn't do it. Lou Holtz couldn't do it. And I'm starting to reach the painful realization that one the best coaches of this generation won't be able to do it either. Steve Spurrier's efforts to build an SEC Championship caliber program at South Carolina appear destined to come up short, just as it has for each of his predecessors.

Thursday's 24-17 loss to Vanderbilt was the Gamecocks' sixth in the last seven games with the only win coming a week ago against a painfully inept North Carolina State team. Spurrier's overall record in Columbia stands at 22-17 with an 11-14 mark in SEC play. By comparison after 39 games in Gainesville the "Head Ball Coach" was 31-8 with 21 wins in 25 games against SEC teams. Granted he inherited a lot more talent at Florida than he did in South Carolina, but the drop off is significant. But it's the recent drop off that calls into question if Carolina will ever be able to compete for an SEC East title.

It wasn't that long ago that it appeared Spurrier and the ‘Cocks had turned the corner. A 21-15 win over North Carolina in mid October improved the team to 6-1; they were 3-1 in the SEC and had control of their destiny for a possible trip to Atlanta. Not only that, but Carolina had ended '06 with the three game winning streak giving them nine wins in ten games. That's as good a ten game stretch as any other Gamecocks' squad ever.

Carolina took a number six national raking into a match up with Vanderbilt and somehow came away with a 17-6 loss. Tennessee grabbed an overtime win the following week before Spurrier's defense was steamrolled by Arkansas (48-36) and Florida (51-31). A season ending loss to Clemson completed the slide from possible BCS Bowl to no bowl at all.

Carolina's struggles have been a combination of hit and miss defense and the inability of Spurrier to find the right QB to make his "Fun and Gun" offense take off. Last year, for example they scored 28 or more points just six times, but scored 21 or less in another five contests. That inconsistency is pretty much the same on the other side of the ball, and it's been that way since Spurrier arrived in 2005.

It would be foolish to ever give up on Steve Spurrier or tell him he can't do something, and I'm not that foolish. However it's hard to deny that Carolina is now at a crossroads with Georgia coming to town next Saturday. A bounce back victory over the Dawgs could propel Carolina to a nice run through the easy part of the schedule. However if they suffer another loss the Gamecocks will be all but out of the SEC race with a 0-2 division mark. If that happens it's just a matter of scrambling for a lower tier bowl. Not the kind of legacy that suits a coach of Spurrier's caliber.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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