With the release of the 2012 SEC conference schedule, South Carolina fans and college football enthusiasts alike must wonder if Steve Spurrier will ever lead the Gamecocks to the ultimate promised land—the BCS.
Since being hired in November of 2004, The Ol' Ball Coach has led South Carolina to a 54-35 record, with six bowl appearances in seven seasons. Spurrier and his coaching staff have brought in top-flight talent, winning the in-state recruiting battles against arch-rival Clemson. Spurrier has brought in the likes of Alshon Jeffrey, Marcus Lattimore, Jadeveon Clowney, Stephon Gilmore, DeVonte Holloman and D.J. Swearinger.
Despite the influx of talent in Columbia, South Carolina has experienced continuous letdowns even though the 54-35 record is Carolina's most successful era in program history. The Gamecocks are just 1-5 in bowl games under Spurrier and have posted a losing record of 8-14 against SEC West opponents.
In addition to continuing to not meet the high expectations of a starving fan base, Spurrier has had notable off-field issues with players, most notably QB Stephen Garcia. Garcia came to USC as one of the top-ranked dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation. Although Garcia did win some of the biggest games in Gamecock history, he was in trouble with the law and the university several times, eventually leading to his dismissal this past season.
Although Spurrier's seven years in Columbia haven't gone as planned, the program is on the up-and-up. In the last three seasons, South Carolina has defeated its highest-ranked opponents in school history—fourth-ranked Ole Miss and No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Alabama. South Carolina won its first East division title and attended its first SEC championship game. The Gamecocks also own a 8-0 record against rivals Clemson, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee the past two seasons.
South Carolina has a tough stretch in 2012, playing Georgia, LSU, Florida and Tennessee in consecutive weeks, yet the culture of the program has changed. Landing top recruits, creating All-Americans, beating top-ranked teams and selling out Williams-Brice Stadium has created a culture of winning in Columbia.
Times have changed around the SEC, and expect South Carolina to stay at the top for quite some time. With continued success in recruiting and expectations to win, Steve Spurrier will lead South Carolina to a BCS bowl game in his tenure as Gamecock head coach.