Steve Spurrier: I Fired Myself

Steve Spurrier
The Associated Press

Steve Spurrier wrote a letter to South Carolina newspaper The State explaining why he abruptly resigned as head football coach of the Gamecocks, his future on the gridiron sidelines, and who should replace him at SC.

Spurrier says his 2-4 team traveled in the “wrong direction” with him at the helm. Wanting to give his assistant Shawn Elliott a shot, cringing at the idea of a “Spurrier Farewell Tour” (“The players deserve to be the story of each game”), and knowing his prestige made it hard for the school to ax him, Spurrier opted to give himself a pink slip.

Strangely, the coach wrote favorably of firing members of his sideline fraternity:

When a coach gets fired, the change is often good and helpful to the team. Miami was 4-3 when Al Golden was fired, and the interim head coach went 4-1. Randy Edsall was 2-4 at Maryland when fired and his replacement got the team playing better. Clay Helton, the interim coach at the other USC, was recently named head coach as they went 5-2 under his watch.

Our university was not going to fire me, so I thought it was best for our team that I basically fire myself by resigning. The players have enjoyed playing for Coach Elliott and again the media has said the team has performed better after I resigned.

South Carolina went 1-5 following Spurrier’s departure. But the team played competitively against the likes of Clemson and Florida, so Spurrier makes at least a debatable point that reads not merely as an act of loyalty to one long loyal to him. The school reportedly pursues Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart (likely headed to Georgia) and Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley as candidates for the top football job in Columbia. Houston’s Tom Herman did not want the job.
Spurrier concluded his career with an 86-49 record at South Carolina and 228-89-2 overall college mark with the Gamecocks, Florida Gators, and Duke Blue Devils. The winner of Florida’s first Heisman Trophy as a player and his alma mater’s first national championship as a coach also enjoyed a sideline stint leading the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits and endured a sideline stint leading the NFL’s Washington Redskins.
The 70-year-old Spurrier says he believes South Carolina should name Elliott his permanent replacement and closed the book on the idea of him coming back to lead a major program. “When I mentioned I may coach again,” Spurrier noted of his statement following his October resignation, “I meant possibly as a volunteer coach at a high school. After thirty years as a head coach, I positively know that my head coaching career is finished.”