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Retirement Is Not an Option for South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, for Now

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJuly 21, 2015

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"I breezed right through age 60, breezed right through 65, and I'm going to try my best to breeze right on through 70."

South Carolina's Steve Spurrier didn't shy away from the retirement question earlier this month at SEC media days in Hoover, Alabama. He met it head on.

From the way the "head ball coach" sounds this summer, hanging up the headset in favor of the golf clubs doesn't seem like something that's rattling around his visor at the moment.

That's not to say that there weren't rumblings, especially after a grueling 2014 season in which the Gamecocks finished 7-6 and struggled to close out games.

"I don't know how close I came to walking away, but when you lose four out of five, and three of them we had a two-touchdown lead. ... Those were some tough losses," Spurrier said.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier
South Carolina head coach Steve SpurrierTyler Smith/Getty Images

Apparently, that wasn't enough. 

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Spurrier called an impromptu press conference in Columbia on Wedneday and gave reporters an hour-and-a-half notice to re-affirm his commitment to the Gamecocks—something he seemingly did last week at media days and then during the ESPN car wash on Tuesday.

According to David Cloninger of The State, Spurrier cleared the air regarding constant speculation surrounding his age and potential retirement date.

David Cloninger @DCPandC

Steve Spurrier reconfirms his commitment to USC. Message to Gamecocks is he's not going anywhere.

David Cloninger @DCPandC

Spurrier: Nobody said anything when he was 69 and they were 11-2. Now at 70 and 7-6, "enemies" are chirping.

David Cloninger @DCPandC

Spurrier not happy with recent comments that he's on a "descent." "I plan on coaching a long time."

The retirement question might get old for Spurrier and for South Carolina fans, but it's not going away. He just turned 70 and was asked in December how much longer he planned on sticking around. He initially said 2-3 years and then quickly switched that to 4-5 years, according to Cloninger.

Why the change?

I'm sure part of the reason was because potential signees in the 2015 class and future classes don't want it to be set in stone that they're going to go through a coaching change during their Gamecocks careers.

Besides, why would Spurrier walk away now?

Sure, last season was stressful, and the Gamecocks have plenty of roster holes. However, he managed to post a big win over Georgia last year, and he still plays in a down division and has a roster littered with youth.

Spurrier
SpurrierTyler Smith/Getty Images

The window for SEC East success might be closed, but it certainly isn't locked.

The Gamecocks have a Heisman-caliber receiver in Pharoh Cooper, who has also been used at running back and even at quarterback during his first two seasons in Columbia. Despite every defense focusing on him, Cooper is ready for even more responsibility in 2015.

"Teams are going to be keying on me, so I'm going to have to get the ball a lot more out of the Wildcat position," Cooper said. "I'm still going to do the same things as last year and still could throw the ball. I'll probably be in the backfield more this year."

South Carolina WR Pharoh Cooper
South Carolina WR Pharoh CooperTyler Smith/Getty Images

If Spurrier and his staff can get Cooper in even more advantageous situations and catch lighting in a bottle with whomever wins the quarterback job, the offense could be alright.

Defensively, there are the obvious issues that hold over from last year, including an underwhelming defensive line and a secondary that is still rather young. Communication was also a big issue, and the presence of new co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke could fix it.

"We've got good coaches, but for whatever reason, we just didn't communicate," Spurrier said. "We can play a lot better defensively, and I think everybody's going to see that this year. So that's given all of us, I think, an extra life there at South Carolina."

COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 15: Coaches Shawn Elliott, Steve Spurrier, and G A Mangus call plays during the first half against the UAB Blazers in their NCAA college football game on September 15, 2012 at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. (P
Mary Ann Chastain/Getty Images

There likely isn't a time frame on Spurrier's retirement plans, just more of a general idea on what needs to happen for him to hang up the visor. When things were cooking at a high level, and the Gamecocks were in the division-title discussion every year from 2010-2013, an SEC title seemed like the right time for Spurrier to ride off into the sunset.

Now, the definition of "going out on top" might have changed a bit.

A division title, 10-win season or even a win over highly ranked Clemson and a decent bowl game might be enough to send Spurrier to the links on a more full-time basis.

His contract runs through 2018, and considering he's never been a guy who spends 24 hours a day and seven days per week at the football complex, it's conceivable that he rides that out and then moves on.

If his team gives him a reason to go out "on top," he probably will take that opportunity a little bit earlier.

The definition of "on top," though, is what has changed after last year's struggles.

Until Spurrier reaches that point, the "head ball coach" is staying in Columbia. 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee. 

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