September 13, 2014
Overall Record: 47-17-2
Last 10 Meetings: 6-4
Richt vs. South Carolina: 8-5
It was interesting to read what Steve Spurrier had to say this summer about his program. As always Spurrier says a lot. This summer he turned his guns on Nick Saban along the way: “If I had had five No. 1 recruiting classes in the last six years like Alabama, I would say, ‘Fellas, we are going to mess up if we lose a game, because we’ve got the best players in college football.’”
He said that to former Dawg Post contributor Josh Kendall, who covers the Gamecocks for The State. In that interview Spurrier goes on to say something that shows, to me, that he’s changed his focus while in Columbia.
“There’s more to life than the SEC championship,” Spurrier told Kendall in that interview. “I would still say that’s the biggest goal we could reach right there, but total wins, where you are ranked, the state championship, bowl victories.”
How do you read what Spurrier is saying there? Is he saying: “I had my best shot to win the SEC these last four years, and it did happen, so you have to keep what I have done here at South Carolina in perspective.” Or is he saying: “Look, I’m in Columbia. This isn’t Tuscaloosa or Gainesville. Can’t you see what I have done here in this place? This isn’t exactly the premier destination in the SEC, and yet I have won more than anyone ever here. I’ve taken South Carolina from losers to winners.”
I don’t think Spurrier is waving the white flag of surrender, but I think as his ninth year at South Carolina begins he understands that there are certain limitations on what you can do with certain programs in the SEC. Make no mistake about it – Spurrier has turned the Cocks into a perennial challenger in the East since 2010. With that said, he’s done that with premier talent the last four seasons.
Spurrier has won 77 games at South Carolina – 43% of his wins have come in the last three years with the likes of Marcus Lattimore and #1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney on those teams. Now the Old Ball Coach has to replace the best player ever to play for the Gamecocks, and the winningest quarterback in school history (Connor Shaw) while he navigates a schedule that could certainly be described as difficult.
South Carolina opens with Texas A&M and hosts Georgia two weeks later. If South Carolina wins both of those games or splits them (which certainly seems attainable), they will have a good shot at being in the SEC East race in late October. That’s when the schedule gets grueling.
On October 25th South Carolina plays at Auburn. The Gamecocks are 1-9-1 overall against the Tigers and have never won at Auburn. A week later Tennessee visits Columbia. Normally you would think that South Carolina should win this game, and I still think that’s the case, but the Gamecocks screwed up in Knoxville last season, and that loss cost them the SEC East.
Two weeks after the Vols, Carolina travels to Gainesville for the final SEC contest of the season. Florida has been poor of late, but the Gators have only lost to South Carolina once ever in Gainesville (2010).
Then there’s the Spurrier loss. That’s the game the Cocks have lost, out of the blue, pretty much each season Spurrier has been head coach. Last season it was the inexplicable loss at Tennessee. In 2011, South Carolina lost to unranked Auburn in Columbia. In 2010, South Carolina lost at Kentucky. In 2009, Carolina lost to both Tennessee and UConn. In 2008, the Cocks lost to Vanderbilt. In 2007, #6 South Carolina lost to Vanderbilt.
You get the point.