Spurrier's Raise Without Extension Raises Questions About His Future

Steve Spurrier got a raise but no extension from South Carolina. This is not new news; it happened last Friday.

At the time, AD Eric Hyman said that the lack of an extension was not a reflection of how the school looked at its coach. Spurrier asked for this package, so that's what South Carolina gave him. Hyman even said, "Don't read too much into this."

It's hard not to read anything into it, though Spurrier's never been one to conform to even his own expectations. While at Florida in the '90s, he would say that he couldn't imagine coaching much past 60. Tomorrow, he turns 66, and he will be 68 in the final year of his current contract. When he arrived at South Carolina, most people said he'd either succeed right away or not at all; instead, he had his breakthrough season in his sixth.

I don't know whether Spurrier will end up winning an SEC title in Columbia as was his goal when taking the job. With Georgia digging out of a hole, Florida transitioning to a new staff, and Tennessee rebuilding with youth, the SEC East looks ripe for the taking given how much the Gamecocks have coming back. Winning the SEC Championship is a simple matter of taking one game at a neutral site in Atlanta, but the West looks like the tougher division again and Spurrier's team melted under the bright lights last season.

Spurrier was 5-2 in the SEC Championship Game while at Florida, taking only one bad loss in a 34-7 drubbing at the hands of Alabama in 1999. He would win that game the next season, his last and perhaps least celebrated conference title. He's shown he can bounce back from a bad defeat there.

Despite what the lack of an extension might mean, I don't see Spurrier as winding down right now. Getting close to winning the SEC last year had to have got his competitive juices flowing even more than anything else that's happened since he arrived in Columbia. He just managed to keep the nation's top-rated recruit at home, fighting off Alabama and Nick Saban in the process. He won the school's first division title last year, and Stephen Garcia willing, he can easily get another this fall.

If nothing else, when he leaves the situation will be reversed from when he left Florida. He certainly will go down as one of the best South Carolina coaches in history, but the program is perhaps in the best shape its ever been. It has modernized some, and Spurrier has wiped away the perception that the school can't compete in the SEC. It took him longer that he probably thought, but the culture of mediocrity is passing away.

I personally am done guessing when he'll call it a career. He blindsided me with his resignation from UF, so I'll let him do the same with South Carolina. At this point, he's not going to lead the Gamecocks to the same heights he led the Gators to, but no one can say he didn't do a lot of good for the program in Columbia.

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