Say what? Spurrier says he's not going to Miami
If Miami comes calling for Steve Spurrier, the South Carolina coach said Sunday he won't answer the phone.
"I am not a candidate," Spurrier told ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel in response to an ESPN report earlier Sunday that he would be Miami's top choice to replace Larry Coker, who is widely rumored to be on the way out as Hurricanes head coach.
"I took this job to do what the experts said couldn't be done, which was to win an SEC championship here," Spurrier said. "We've got a good recruiting class coming in, we think.
"That [Miami] is a tough job. This is the challenge for me."
If Coker is fired as expected after Thursday's game against Boston College, then Spurrier would be Miami's most desired replacement, a source close to the situation told ESPN's Joe Schad Sunday.
The source told Schad that although Coker has not yet been informed that he will not be retained, influential members of the university community have begun contacting representatives for prospective replacements with intentions of making a splashy hire.
On a South Carolina conference call Sunday afternoon, Spurrier was asked seven questions pertaining to Miami. A person close to the former Florida coach told Schad that the coach would be willing to listen to Miami because of the possibility of winning a national championship there and his love of the state of Florida.
On the call, Spurrier never specifically ruled out considering the Miami position, if and when it opens. Instead he referred to the reports as "rumor" and "flattering" and quipped, "I'm not leaving unless I get run off." He added, "This is where I plan to be, hopefully, for the next five, seven or eight years or whatever."
Spurrier said he believes Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, a former Miami assistant, should be the top candidate at Miami. But Miami has not yet reached out to Schiano or representatives, another source said. Rutgers has full intentions of extending Schiano's deal after this season, but wants to wait until after the season to commence talks.
Another candidate of logical interest is former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, because of his close relationship with current Miami president Donna Shalala. Alvarez, now Wisconsin's Athletic Director, told Schad last week "never say never" about a return to coaching. And another source familiar with Alvarez's situation said he believes he could recruit at Miami with more ease than he did at Wisconsin.
Spurrier is 13-10 in two seasons at Columbia. The Gamecocks are 6-5 as they prepare to play in-state rival Clemson on Saturday.
Shalala had hopes Coker could win the final two games of the season so she could argue to bring him back. But at 5-6 and with the team in danger of missing a bowl, influential trustees and boosters have begun to identify replacements.
Spurrier makes about $1.3 million a year at South Carolina and has five years remaining on his contract. Miami would have to be prepared to pay upwards of $2 million a year to have a chance to land Spurrier.
When Spurrier left Florida to coach the NFL's Washington Redskins in 2002, he said he desired to coach somewhere that expectations weren't so immense on a yearly basis. But a move to Miami would certainly bring added expectations. Coker is under intense pressure and scrutiny despite compiling a 53-9 record prior to this season.
On Friday, South Carolina unveiled a near-$200 million proposal that included expanding the stadium by up to 8,000 seats and an $11.4 million academic learning center.
"I guess in a way it's flattering someone would throw my name in with one of the top programs," Spurrier said. "But I came to South Carolina to win an SEC championship. We haven't proven we can yet. But we have an outstanding program. We're going to make that our goal starting next year."
Information from ESPN's Joe Schad and ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel was used in this report.