South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier
It's hard to believe that South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is entering his ninth season as the head coach of the Gamecocks. It seems like only yesterday that the head ball coach was roaming the sidelines in the Swamp, leading the Gators to the the SEC Championship Game on seemingly an annual basis.
It took a little longer than he initially envisioned, but he's got the South Carolina program cooking at a level unlike any other time during the program's history.
The Gamecocks have won 11 games in each of the last two seasons—the first two 11-wins seasons in program history—and took home their first SEC East crown in 2010.
After finishing in the Top 10 in each of the last two seasons, the SEC championship and the BCS National Championship games aren't as far-fetched as they were a decade ago.
But just how much does Spurrier have left?
The head ball coach received a two-year contract extension on Dec. 3, 2012 that will run though the 2017 season. At that time, Spurrier mentioned one of his primary goals.
"We have achieved a lot of goals but have not yet won the SEC Championship," he said. "Hopefully, we can do that within the next couple of years."
Whenever he decides to hang up the visor, he can rest assured that he will go down as one of the most successful coaches in college football history.
He led the Florida Gators to a period of sustained success that was unmatched in program history. In the 1990s, the Gators won seven SEC East division titles, six SEC championships and the 1996 national title.
You could make the argument that his accomplishments at Florida were certainly enough to solidify his legacy and earn him a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach (he was inducted as a player in 1986).
But he wasn't done.
It's clear that the goal for the 67-year-old Spurrier is to lead South Carolina to its first ever SEC championship. While his contract has been extended through the 2017 season, an SEC title might be enough to ride off into the sunset.
After what we've seen over the last three years, that SEC championship could come in 2013.
Despite returning only four starters on defense, the Gamecocks return a solid core with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and defensive backs Jimmy Legree and Victor Hampton.
The loss of running back Marcus Lattimore and wide receiver Ace Sanders will hurt; but when you have four offensive linemen returning, two quality quarterbacks in Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson and Bruce Ellington at wide receiver, there's still plenty of firepower.
Will South Carolina win an SEC Championship before Steve Spurrier retires?
Plus, the schedule steps up for a run.
The Gamecocks draw Mississippi State and Arkansas out of the West this year, both of which aren't in the upper-tier of the division. They do have to travel to Georgia, but that game is back in Week 2—right when Spurrier wants it. They close out the SEC season at home on Nov. 16 against the Florida Gators in what could be the de facto SEC East title game.
If South Carolina wins the SEC title this year—or at any point between now and the time his contract runs out—it wouldn't surprise me in the least bit to see Spurrier ride off in the sunset and spend his days putting a peg in the ground at various golf courses around the country.
I doubt he stays past 2017 no matter what happens. But even if he doesn't win the big game under the big top at the Georgia Dome, his legacy will be sealed as the most decorated coach for two SEC programs.