Any coach in the SEC will tell you how hard it is to stick around in this league. Patience is most certainly not a virtue when it comes to SEC fanbases, however, one coach more than any other has shown what a little loyalty and patience can provide. That coach is Steve Spurrier.
The 2014 season will be Spurrier’s 10th season leading the South Carolina Gamecocks. His tenure has been, without a doubt, the most successful of any coach in the school’s history. He took over a program that had only four winning seasons since joining the SEC in 1992, and has grown it into a legitimate SEC East and National Title contender.
The results have been so outstanding the last three seasons for the Gamecocks, that it may make you forget the underwhelming start to the Spurrier era in Columbia. The head ball coach never managed more than eight wins in his first five seasons, posting a 35-28 record. That’s not a record that will light SEC fans on fire.
Some wondered if Spurrier would be able to make South Carolina a winner. Those results were great for South Carolina football, but those numbers get you fired at other SEC schools. Five years is generous in a conference that has seen Derek Dooley fired after only three years and Gene Chizik canned two years after winning a national championship.
South Carolina has stuck with Spurrier and been rewarded with a 42-11 record over the last four seasons along with a SEC Championship game berth. It may not happen often, but patience can pay off. With an ever-changing college football landscape, there is a lot to be said for continuity.
Schools today give in too easily to the pressure of their fans to see immediate results. The almighty dollar is king in college football, and athletic directors must fill the seats and sell the merchandise. When historic seasons like one by the Auburn Tigers in 2013 occur, it only fuels the fire.
It’s a shame that schools can’t get the right man for the job and then give him the time to get the ship turned around. SEC schools typically hire good coaches who have won at every level. Just because the results are not immediate doesn’t mean the guy forgot how to coach, and firing him too soon may leave you in mediocrity longer.
As South Carolina has proven, getting the guy you want and sticking with him can pay big dividends. The Gamecocks are on an unprecedented roll and will undoubtedly be in the SEC East race come fall. Good for them; here’s hoping the rest of college football takes note.