South Carolina's Spurrier Eyes Elusive Seventh SEC Title
By Dan Harralson
South Carolina football has relished in three-consecutive 11-win seasons orchestrated from arguably one of the top-three SEC coaches of all-time. So where do the Gamecocks go from here?
The foundation has been laid and Steve Spurrier has turned a once-middling South Carolina football team into an annual powerhouse knocking on the door of a conference and national championship.
Spurrier's lone national championship came in 1996 at Florida with Danny Wuerffel under center for the Gators. The one thing about Spurrier is that he rarely talks great about his signal caller.
He did with Wuerffel – and he's doing the same with Dylan Thompson going into this season.
"Dylan Thompson will be our starting quarterback,” Spurrier said at Monday’s SEC Media Day. “We really believe he has a chance to have a great season.”
South Carolina was able to win the SEC East and make it to the conference title game in Atlanta in 2010, but have yet to make it back. It just shows the depths of mediocrity to which the South Carolina football program was mired in when Spurrier took over entering the 2005 season – and how long it has taken to finally get South Carolina in position to compete for championships on an annual basis.
"Recruiting took off about four years into my South Carolina tenure,” Spurrier said.
Big-dollar contributions followed.
"The difference between the Florida and South Carolina jobs is that when I arrived at Florida, the team was already there."
So what's next? How can the Gamecocks make it back to Atlanta and take the next step in their program's future? South Carolina will benefit from a reasonable schedule, playing Texas A&M and Auburn as their SEC West opponents. Other than its road trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium, South Carolina should be the favorite in just about every game.
Even if the Gamecocks drop the Auburn game, it's still feasible to think Spurrier can make a play for his seventh SEC championship and move past Vince Dooley and Johnny Vaught into second all-time behind Bear Bryant's 14 SEC titles.
Spurrier knows how important it is to win the conference – something that may not always align with the fans’ wishes.
"Fans don't mind beating Clemson over winning the SEC,” Spurrier admitted. “Personally, I'd rather win the SEC.”
"I tell a recruit, if you come here, you can be the first to win the SEC."
Wins: Texas A&M, East Carolina, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Kentucky, Furman, Tennessee, Florida, South Alabama