Spurrier: I've got a good 4 to 5 years left

On a cold and windy Tuesday afternoon, the Gamecocks returned to practice following the big loss at Florida. Due to the weather conditions, Carolina practiced indoors for a little over an hour before breaking for the evening. The Gamecocks are off this week, so Steve Spurrier spent most of his time with the media discussing a report that he intended to retire at the end of the season.

"Who out there is retiring? They can't even get Joe Paterno to retire, [or] Bobby Bowden. I do enjoy it and we do have a chance here. I'm convinced of that," Spurrier responded. Then he addressed the root of the rumor: that he is unhappy with the progress he has made at Carolina. "I've always said that I feel like I've got a good 4-5 years in me. We are having a pretty good recruiting class if it all comes together the way it appears to be. Let's give this thing 4-5 years and see what happens around here."

Spurrier pointed out that while he has not had the immediate success some expected, he has still been successful. He has yet to have a losing season, has taken the Gamecocks to two bowls already, and is poised to possibly put the Gamecocks in a New Year's Day bowl this year. He compared that to Notre Dame, another program in its fourth year under the current coach, and one with considerably more history than Carolina.

"We're 7-4," he said. "I saw Charlie Weis on TV today, and he was happy as he could be that Notre Dame got their sixth win and they're bowl eligible. Sometimes you've got to keep everything in perspective."

With perspective in mind, Spurrier recounted a story from the recruiting trail. Not surprisingly, recruits are aware of the annual rumors that Spurrier is soon to be an ex-Gamecock. Some recruits put more stock in the rumors than others, according to Spurrier.

"Some recruit said he would be interested in South Carolina but he was worried Coach Spurrier might leave," he said. "That's better than a guy saying, 'I would be interested in South Carolina, but I'm afraid Steve Spurrier's still going to be there.' That's a positive way to look at that."

Spurrier denied the rumor that he was upset there is not a succession plan in place for his son, wide receivers coach Steve, Jr., saying: "He's on his own." Since the day he was hired, Spurrier has said he does not intend to coach into his 70s, or 80s, like Paterno or Bowden. He said the same thing Tuesday evening.

"I won't coach into my 70s," he said. "I'm in my early 60s right now, but I feel good. It's not a lot of fun coaching [Stephen] Garcia, though. That might send you out of here. It's a challenge."

Earlier, Spurrier said that he would go with one quarterback against Clemson, rather than rotating quarterbacks as he did against Arkansas and Florida. Initially, Spurrier refused to say which quarterback would start, but after he criticized Garcia, he admitted Chris Smelley is likely to get the call against the Tigers.

"He's got the inside [track] right now," he said. Earlier he said, "Our quarterback play wasn't very good the other night. We're going to get one quarterback and see if he can take care of the ball and help us win the game."

Rychleski takes blame for special teams blunder against Gators

One of the key plays in the loss to Florida, if there can be a key play in a 56-6 drubbing, came on special teams. Down 14-0, the Gamecocks attempted a "Titan Throwback" on the kickoff. On the play, named after the Tennessee Titans, who won a playoff game on a similar play dubbed the "Music City Miracle," Dion LeCorn fielded the kickoff and then threw the ball across the field to Chris Hail. Hail never got the ball, and Florida recovered the fumble. A few plays later it was 21-0 in favor of the Gators. Special Teams coach Ray Rychleski spoke Tuesday about the decision to try the trick play.

"I tried to do too much," he said. "I didn't take my own advice: fundamentals over gimmicks. That's a gimmick play. You will never see it again."

In film study, Rychleski noticed that Florida always lines up to kick off with all 11 players between the hash marks, rather than spread across the field. Rychleski felt that would make the Gators susceptible to the throwback. However, two things happened on the kickoff that disrupted the play.

"They had a guy that we knew was going to twist out there, but it was a different guy, [and] he kicked it deeper than usual," said Rychleski. "It was ill-advised. I convinced Coach Spurrier to do it and I take full responsibility. It was a dumb play. I thought about it all week, and I thought if we do get behind, maybe this is a play that can get us back in the game. The thing that's not good is [Hail] at least should have caught the ball. Maybe it doesn't go for anything, but at least it doesn't give them points."

Rychleski had called the play once before, while at Maryland. In 2001, the Terrapins were down big at Florida State when he called for it. That time, the pass was also fumbled, but Maryland recovered. Now, Rychleski has learned his lesson: the throwback does not work.

"If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't," he said. "The Titan Throwback is not in against Clemson. Coach Spurrier I really feel has a lot of trust in me and I let him down."

Going up against Florida, perhaps the hottest team in the country, the Gamecocks needed to find a way to catch the Gators off guard, and that is what Rychleski was trying to do. In this case it failed, but he considered it a necessary risk going in. Aside from the throwback, the special teams had a solid outing. Ryan Succop made both his field goal attempts after struggling recently, and the punt team held Gator return man Brandon James in check for the most part, holding him to 10 yards per return, half his return average this year.

"We knew we were going to take some chances in this game," Rychleski said. "We were okay, but okay doesn't beat Florida. We can do better."

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