South Carolina: Why Haven't They Turned the Corner under Steve Spurrier?

Damon YoungCorrespondent IIOctober 4, 2010

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Head coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks questions a call during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Steve Spurrier has been a success every place he has been.

In high school he was a three-sport letterman winning state titles and making all-state teams.

As a player at Florida he won the Heisman Trophy and then even spent 10 years in the NFL.

He won an ACC title at Duke. Yes, THAT Duke, in FOOTBALL no less.

He took the SEC by storm and gave the Florida Gators elite status in college football's best conference and captured the university's first national crown.

Most say he was a failure in the NFL, but he only had two seasons under one of pro football's most volatile owners in Dan Snyder.

Now he is in his sixth season at South Carolina and to this point, their highest win total has been eight and their highest finish in the SEC East was in his first season when they tied for second at 5-3.

The biggest bowl they've appeared in was the 2009 Outback Bowl where they were manhandled by Iowa 31-10.

So what gives?

I think it's a mystery that has kept everyone in college football guessing. You can say he doesn't have the resources that he had at Florida, but then how do you explain him winning an ACC title with Duke? Yes, it was in 1989 in a league that hardly resembles the ACC we know today, but it was still a conference title.

Even in his first year with the Gators he finished 9-2 and then won the SEC crown in his second season, but why hasn't the magic happened in Columbia?

Can he not bring in the premier players to overtake Florida in the east?

Perhaps he has OVER-achieved as the head man at South Carolina.

Think about it, the Gamecocks have been bowl-eligible every season under Steve Spurrier and despite the heartbreaking loss at Auburn are still in control of their destiny in the eastern division. Granted, it's a hard destiny to control especially with No. 1 Alabama coming to town this weekend, but they can still do it.

Maybe South Carolina is just doomed to being a mid-level player in the SEC. Even Lou Holtz, a national title-winning coach at Notre Dame had a losing record overall with the Gamecocks. Like Spurrier his best finish in the east was second at 5-3 in 2000 and again his best bowl appearance was the Outback Bowl, but unlike Spurrier, he won both of those matches over Ohio State.

They also only have 18 consensus All-Americans in the history of their program and one conference title. Of course, that title was in 1969 and it was in the ACC, so perhaps it IS the pedigree that is effecting this program so much.

Despite the trials and tribulations they've faced on the gridiron, the Gamecock fanbase has been one of the most dedicated and fever pitched groups out there and for their sake and sanity, you have to hope that Spurrier can get it done at some point.

Maybe he has been looking in the wrong pace for the centerpiece of his offense. At Florida it was always the QB position, but perhaps this time it's at the running back position with freshman phenom Marcus Lattimore.

It's such a perplexing situation for a coach of his status to struggle. South Carolina always just seems to be on the cusp of breaking through, but for one reason or another it doesn't happen. Perhaps the showdown with the No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide could provide the remedy, but until it happens, we will all continue to scratch our heads and toss the proverbial visor at their lack of sustained success.