Steve Spurrier looking on in the 44-11 loss to the Florida Gators
When Steve Spurrier became head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks, Garnet and Black supporters had high hopes. For many, it marked the beginning of a new era, one with double digit win seasons and maybe even an SEC Championship.
In fact, the pre-Spurrier era could be defined pretty easily. The Gamecocks had a fantastic season in 1984 and reached as high as number two in the nation only to lose on the road to Navy. In addition, Sterling Sharpe spent his college years in Columbia, SC before he went on to a Hall of Fame career in the National Football League. George Rogers won the Heisman Trophy in 1980, and the school gained some more national press in the late 80s when they brawled with the Miami Hurricanes.
Finally, the South Carolina Gamecocks were the 1969 ACC Champions. That aforementioned fact is not very well known by many, unless you have been to Williams-Brice stadium before.
Needless to say, the Ol' Ball Coach taking over the reins was one of the biggest events in program history.
Eight years into his coaching tenure, he has delivered multiple firsts for a program that did not have much to celebrate before his arrival. Besides holding a 4-3 record against the Clemson Tigers, the Gamecocks' hated rival, he became the first head coach in school history to bring the Gamecocks to four bowl games.
In 2010, Carolina won the SEC East Division for the first time since joining the conference in 1992. South Carolina clinched the division in “the Swamp,” where they were previously 0-12 until the decisive 36-14 victory.
Last year, the Gamecocks put together a stellar season going 11-2, including a victory over the Nebraska Corn Huskers in the Capital One Bowl. Every coach before Spurrier had failed to deliver an 11 win season. With all that success last year, the nation took notice and Carolina fans started to believe this year could be the year. However, with two straight losses against SEC opponents, it appears that the Gamecock faithful, this writer included, might have to wait another year.
As many firsts as Spurrier has delivered to the program, he has unfortunately left the fan base disappointed just as often. Since his first year in 2005, all his teams have started out very well; however, his record in the second half of the season has not been nearly as good.
The Gamecocks have posted a 30-12 record in the first six games, only to see those numbers drop to 23-18 in the back half of the season. Additionally, South Carolina has recorded a very good 36-14 tally at home but have only won half of their games on the road under the Ol' Ball Coach.
With all that being said, the last two years have been much better, but after an embarrassing loss to the Florida Gators, could history repeat itself?
If South Carolina played in any other conference, they might have already won a conference championship. But not in the SEC. The difference between winning and losing can be one play—for example, Connor Shaw missing an open wide receiver and instead throwing an interception against LSU.
Hopefully Spurrier and Carolina can find that extra gear soon so the Gamecock faithful can stop asking themselves “what if?”