Steve Spurrier leaves college football…

Is Steve Spurrier a quitter?

The college football landscape changed drastically last week, as South Carolina lost its head football coach. Steve Spurrier has been a fixture in the SEC for decades first as a Heisman winning quarterback at the University of Florida, then as head coach at his alma mater, and finally at the University of South Carolina for the past twenty-five seasons. The seventy-year-old coach announced his retirement last week while his gamecock team at 2-4 prepared for their game against Vanderbilt.

 

Was Spurrier`s midseason departure and opportunity for another coach to make their name? Or did the ever competitive head coach simply quit on his team…

 

Spurrier`s retirement was not a total surprise. There had been hints that the Gamecock`s head coach might step away. After the troubling 2014 season, Spurrier was quoted saying  “Gimme two or three more [years],”. This quote ended up hurting him with recruits and he later recanted his statement and changed it to four or five years. Which brings up an important point about college football…

 

The name of the game is recruiting.

 

As much as college football fans want to believe that high school football players commit to schools, the fact of the matter is that they commit to coaches. Football players are expected to buy in to coach’s philosophies and coaching styles at all levels. For a lot of these players college is a career decision rather than a decision based on loyalty to a school. College football is the job interview for the NFL. If a coach can promise a player that they will start as a freshman and be given lots of opportunity to showcase their talent, they are more likely to commit to that school/coach. For some star recruits, they would rather play for a school that they could play for three years and then take their stack of film to the NFL rather than not getting much playing time as a freshman and sophomore but being part of a prestigious college program.

 

Recruiting was one reason that Spurrier stated as a reason for leaving. He cannot effectively recruit with the knowledge that he will be retiring. Players want to know that the coach that they commit to is the same one that they will play under. There is no doubt that Spurrier`s retirement will affect South Carolina`s current recruits. Commitments will flip because Spurrier will no longer be in charge. This will affect the current recruiting class as well as the players of future classes that USC has already shown interest in. Coaching change can also present an opportunity. New leadership is always excited to make a new start and their enthusiasm can help in recruiting.

 

Did Steve Spurrier quit on his team? Sure. But the coach`s decision could have more to do with the future success of the program than just this season. It all comes down to recruiting. We can all speculate but no one that is not intimately involved is doing just that.

Spurrier certainly left his mark on college football. The way that he left the game is news now, but his legacy will outshine it in the history books.

 

For more information:

http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/13875307/steve-spurrier-south-carolina-gamecocks-retiring

http://www.si.com/college-football/2015/10/12/south-carolina-head-coach-steve-spurrier-retire

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