South Carolina fans, it is time to get rid of Steve Spurrier after this season.
Not because Spurrier hasn't built South Carolina into an SEC contender, because that wasn't going to happen during arguably the strongest period in SEC history.
Not because Spurrier has lost two in a row (and nearly three out of four) to Vanderbilt, because Vanderbilt has long been something of a sleeping giant (well maybe not GIANT but a program with real potential) and Johnson was a proven winner at the FCS (then I-AA) level who has done a great job recruiting competitive talent to that program.
Not even because Spurrier had a losing record to Tommy Bowden at Clemson despite Spurrier generally having better athletes because Clemson's athletes were more motivated, better prepared and had a superior gameplan.
And not even because Spurrier has a 1-2 bowl record and missed postseason play altogether in 2007, and has a 15-17 SEC record.
Not even because despite Spurrier's reputation as a passing game coach, his passing offenses have generally been the team's weak link, undermining defenses and running games that have been good enough to win.
Why not fire Spurrier after all this? Simple. Because it is South Carolina, the No. 2 public university in a small southern state, and a university whose football tradition basically begins and ends with the fact that George Rogers won a Heisman there. (That and the Gator and Peach Bowl losses back when South Carolina competed in the Southern Conference and the ACC.)
The truth is that even at 28-22 Spurrier is one of the most successful coaches in South Carolina history, and at the age of 64 is still young enough to lead the school for ten more years, and leave a solid program with a winning tradition behind.
So what is the problem? Spurrier's comments to the effect that Urban Meyer should go to Notre Dame if Florida wins another national title next season, stating that Meyer would (or should) figure that he has done all that he can in that situation and should seek new challenges elsewhere.
Well, if a 44-year-old man is stupid enough to throw away the next 30 years of his career by leaving a situation where he can make more money (and in a state with a relatively low cost of living and no income tax!) and rack up titles to step into a no—win situation like Notre Dame, then that is Urban Meyer's business.
The reason is Spurrier's motivation for making the comment in the first place.
Despite what people immediately assumed, it is not because Spurrier wants his old job back. First, South Carolina should not be the least bit upset over the fact that Florida is, er, generally going to be seen as a better job anyway.
Second, Spurrier suffers no delusions about Florida, one of the top five and possibly top three jobs in the country right now, wanting to cast its lot with a 64 year old head coach who is not only running an outdated offensive system (the fun and gun was cutting edge in 1994!) but would have to totally dismantle the current system and rebuilt for it.
No, were Meyer to leave the Florida job would go to the next big thing in coaching, and failing that an established guy at another program, and Spurrier knows this.
As a matter of fact, when Florida hired Spurrier the first time, he was one of the hottest coaching prospects in the country, having won a conference title at DUKE, and Florida was so demoralized due to its frequent scandals and underachieving that practically no one else wanted the job.
Spurrier knows how far his profile has fallen—and Florida's have risen—since then.
So why is Spurrier trying to convince Urban Meyer of the merits of leaving Gainesville, or even trying to get Florida to question where Meyer's loyalties to the point where they will try to engineer the guy's exit at a time of their choosing—while Florida is riding high and can have their pick of successors—as opposed to Meyer's leaving them in the lurch?
Simple: because Spurrier doesn't want Meyer to completely overwhelm his Florida legacy.
Before Meyer, Spurrier was clearly No. 1 in the hearts and minds of Gators, the best coach in the program's history by far and perhaps the second best coach in the SEC to Bear Bryant, who did most of his damage in another era which really cannot fairly be compared to Spurrier's.
Right now, even with two titles, Spurrier is still No. 1 because it is generally acknowledged that Meyer built on Spurrier's foundation, what Spurrier accomplished in making Florida the No. 3 team in the country (behind FSU and Miami) in the 1990s and was still winning SEC titles and BCS games when he left for the NFL.
Even if Meyer wins another national title and heads off into the sunset, he will still be the guy that benefitted from A) Spurrier's foundation and B) the Tim Tebow era, in addition to not having to contend with Miami and FSU teams that were particularly good and sucking up all the best talent in Florida, and Spurrier's legacy is still mostly intact.
But if Meyer keeps on winning SEC and national titles after Tebow leaves—and Spurrier knows that Meyer can do just that—then Spurrier becomes just another guy who won some SEC titles and a national title at Florida.
He becomes the appetizer to Meyer's main course. As a matter of fact, some might even start asking why Spurrier didn't accomplish more during his time at Florida, what with all that talent in Florida, and an SEC that really was just Spurrier at Florida, the much less accomplished and capable Fulmer at Tennessee, and everybody else.
There were no Mark Richts at UGA, Les Miles at LSU, Nick Sabans at Alabama (and LSU), etc. Where Spurrier's SEC was one where Jim Donnan and Gerry DiNardo looked like real up and comers for a time, Meyer's success is coming in an SEC where Tommy Tuberville and Philip Fulmer were fired in the same year.
So what kept Spurrier from winning more than a solitary national title and never logging an undefeated season? (Terry Bowden at Auburn? Mike DuBose at Alabama?)
And what was going on with that 62-24—and could have been 80-17 had they not let up in the fourth quarter—wipeout against heavy underdog Nebraska, the SEC's only loss in a national title game since Vince Dooley and Herschel Walker went 1-2 in the early 1980s? And what on earth was going on with that 6-5 bowl record while at Florida?
So long as Meyer walks away while his time at Florida is linked to Spurrier laying the groundwork and Tim Tebow being "the best ever", no one asks those questions.
But if Meyer keeps winning SEC and competing for national titles in a conference that is going to get even tougher with Houston Nutt at Ole Miss, Bobby Petrino at Arkansas (for now) and even Kentucky and Vanderbilt no longer pushovers, then some folks might even start calling "the ole ball coach" overrated.
That is, inasmuch as the person who turned a scandal—plagued program that had never done a thing into a national power, completely changed the face of college football in the south by winning with the passing game and without cheating (and in the process possibly saving an SEC—on the verge of imploding due to corruption and incompetence—from itself), and won six conference and a national title can be considered overrated.
So driving Meyer off from Florida isn't about Spurrier getting a better job, something entirely forgivable. It is about Spurrier preserving his legacy, which isn't. A guy looking to get a better job is still someone who is looking to the future and has that competitive fire, someone who is on the cutting edge and willing to make the changes required to stay there.
Meanwhile, a guy trying to protect his legacy, his name in history, is thinking about the past, isn't doing much more than drawing a paycheck.
This is not to say that Spurrier is stealing money. Quite the contrary, Spurrier is putting more emphasis on and effort into things that he had little time for in his early years at Florida, things which he viewed as necessary evils (and more evil than necessary) like recruiting, defense, and running the football.
That is why he is still getting more out of Florida that most coaches would, and if his head were on the present and the future, he really could build a program there, a culture and expectation of winning, an actual tradition, that the next coach can build on to make South Carolina into a legitimate SEC contender.
Spurrier would be able to look back on his career and say that he saved the SEC from the brink of disaster, turned Florida from underachiever to powerhouse, took South Carolina from being a laughingstock to being a solid program, and won a conference title at DUKE. But looking back THEN is fine.
The problem is that Spurrier is looking back NOW, and that isn't what South Carolina needs.
Right now, South Carolina needs to protect what it has and move forward. What it has is four straight non - losing seasons from Spurrier on the heels of a Lou Holtz era that has its moments. If Spurrier had his head in the right place, he could build on that.
But since he doesn't, they are perfectly capable of marketing that job to someone who can...a young hungry assistant or small college coach looking to make a name for himself and willing to take the 10-15 years to get it done at the No. 2 state school in the Palmetto State.
Believe it or not, it is possible. There is talent in South Carolina, and still more talent in areas where South Carolina should be able to recruit: north Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and especially Virginia.
All that needs is to be done is get the best South Carolina players to stay home—and not head to Clemson, which hasn't done a thing in years either by the way, no conference titles since the 1980s—and get a player or three from the FSUs, UGAs, and from the ACC's mid-Atlantic schools, which right now is Virginia Tech and everybody else.
If you can get that done—and there is no reason why a very good recruiter can't, and as a matter of fact Spurrier has done a very good job recruiting at South Carolina—all it takes is a good coach to win eight to nine games a year.
And that coach could be Spurrier...IF he were willing to abandon the fun and gun.
But Spurrier isn't willing to abandon the fun and gun, because he is living in the past. His trying to run off Meyer before Meyer can touch his '90s legacy is proof. South Carolina needs to send Spurrier to the golf course after this season and get someone (Skip Holtz maybe?) who will take them to the future.