Steve Spurrier is perhaps one of the most storied and beloved coaches in all of the SEC and college football.
His sign-on to become the head coach at South Carolina in late 2004 brought more cheers and optimism that the South Carolina football program would be taking a progressive step toward being in the SEC elite. But it wasn’t an initial success at first.
Although it took a while, Spurrier finally put the right talent together the past two seasons to make South Carolina a threat in the SEC. Not since his days at Florida has a Spurrier-coached team been this hyped.
With hype comes expectations. Some are realistic, some aren't and some fit just right. For Spurrier, this season comes down to now or never. Here are five reasons why he can’t afford to underachieve in 2012.
This season, the South Carolina Gamecocks are walking into their most anticipated campaign in perhaps its program history.
After winning 20 games the past two seasons, the Gamecocks are in position to make the leap to elite status and will have the hype to come with it.
Steve Spurrier has the responsibility to lead his team to achieve its expectations this season. If not, it will be seen as a disappointment. Hype can be seen as a gift and a curse for a highly-celebrated team.
Spurrier's first five seasons with the Gamecocks program have been anything short of a disappointment in terms of what Spurrier can do.
After going 9-5 in 2010 and 11-2 in 2011, critics of Spurrier's handle of the team began to silence themselves slowly. If he can replicate a season as good as last year's or better, Spurrier is on the way to a job well done in a tough SEC.
A win versus LSU will be a huge statement for Spurrier. But keep in mind, teams usually do well in its third year of a successful regime.
The Gamecocks have been defeated by the Auburn Tigers each of the past two seasons and by the Arkansas Razorbacks each of the past three seasons.
Had the Gamecocks defeated the Tigers and Razorbacks in 2010 and 2011, they would have had 12 and potentially 13-win seasons, respectively (played Auburn twice in 2010).
The good news is that Auburn isn't on the schedule. Unfortunately, Arkansas still is. They are the team that has stood in the way of the Gamecocks for years. A loss to the Razorbacks could hurt them in the polls.
Any real opportunity at having a national title chance will come with a win against Arkansas. Spurrier can't allow the Razorbacks to dictate how their season will end.
A successful recruiting class is usually the product of the school's prestige.
South Carolina hasn't always been the most dominant school in terms of wins and recruiting until recently. Before, it was Spurrier's name that attracted star-studded recruits.
As of recently, the attraction of playing for a good football program finally drew in big name recruits. Spurrier sealed the last four Mr. Footballs of South Carolina (Stephon Gilmore, Marcus Lattimore, Jadeveon Clowney and Shaquille Roland).
Spurrier went out on a limb in the '09/'10 recruiting classes to recruit top notch talent. Now, those classes are the foundation of this year’s team.
If Spurrier wants to continue its attraction of big name recruits, a successful season this year should be his target.
This is an objective that most will say is a must-have for Spurrier.
His first few years could possibly be blamed on the schedule, talented players coming up short, discipline and falling short in big games.
Now, with the right pieces in place, the time is now for Steve Spurrier to win an SEC title.
Another 11-win season could do some justice for the ol' ball coach, but an SEC title will make him revered in Gamecock country for years to come.