Spurrier says he'll return to Gamecocks

Updated: November 10, 2009, 9:28 PM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Steve Spurrier says he'll be back in the middle of South Carolina's playcalling and back on the Gamecocks' sidelines next season.

Spurrier said Tuesday that he'll increase his playcalling role down the stretch and won't let the potential of another frustrating finish -- the Gamecocks (6-4, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) have lost two straight with No. 1 Florida and Clemson left -- lead him to leave the Gamecocks after the season.

"Obviously, the president and the AD and all that decides on who coaches," Spurrier said. "But hopefully we've got some guys that are really going to help us on the way. We have a good coaching staff here and so forth.

"Again, I hope and plan to go three or four more years," said Spurrier, 64. "We'll see what happens."

What's guaranteed is Spurrier will be more emphatic in getting the play he wants on the field after last week's 33-16 loss at Arkansas.

Spurrier had mostly ceded weekly gameplanning duties to son, Steve Jr., the past two years but has maintained veto power if he didn't like the call. At least twice this season, Spurrier said the Gamecocks were too conservative on offense at times, including after the Razorbacks defeat.

"I call most of the plays and I may be the principle playcaller now with suggestions from the other coaches," Spurrier said. "That's about how we've been doing it."

Spurrier also wants to get himself inside offensive huddles near the sidelines during stoppages and changeovers. He had let first-year quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus, a former player and assistant for Spurrier at Florida, do most of the talking to reduce the chatter and voices directed at sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia.

That's over, Spurrier said.

"I do plan to get back in the huddle with all the guys every time they come to the sideline," he said.

Spurrier has gone 34-26 overall and 18-21 in the Southeastern Conference since replacing Lou Holtz here after the 2004 season with a mantra -- "Why not us?" -- borrowed from that fall's World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

Five seasons later, some Gamecock fans are asking "Where are the wins?"

Perhaps most troubling is South Carolina's tantalizing pattern of early success followed by closing disappointment.

"It's kind of become a seasonal thing around here," defensive tackle Nathan Pepper said.

South Carolina lost its final three in Spurrier's 7-5 debut season. Two years later, the Gamecocks opened 6-1 before losing five straight to miss the postseason. Last fall, South Carolina was 7-3 before dropping its last three contests to Florida, Clemson and, in the Outback Bowl, to Iowa by a combined 118-30.

Spurrier was so torn up by that last one, he thought about quitting last January.

"Who wouldn't have?" he said.

Instead, Spurrier revamped his coaching staff through attrition and dismissals with five new assistants and a new strength coach. The group helped lock up young players last winter who play key roles now like receiver Alshon Jeffery, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and tailback Jarvis Giles.

Besides their talent (Jeffery leads the Gamecocks with six TD catches), Spurrier says they bring an attitude of achievement and knowledge of the hard work it takes to win unlike what he'd previously seen around South Carolina.

"We'll have some guys come that I'm really looking forward to coaching," Spurrier said. "I'm looking forward to watching Alshon Jeffery, Stephon Gilmore. We've really got some good, young guys that have a chance to have some big-time careers here."

As for now, Spurrier said he was proud of the Gamecocks' effort at Arkansas and thinks they've already exceeded expectations of many, win or lose the last two games.

"We know it's not easy," Spurrier said. "But we've got to have exceptional guys that have a commitment to really wanting to be champions. Hopefully, we can get that going here in the next two or three years."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press