COLUMBIA — Steve Spurrier Jr. is not saying he doesn’t want to succeed his father as the next head football coach at South Carolina.
He’s also not saying he does.
What he will say extends beyond "no comment" but falls short of answering the question.
“That’s certainly a question I won’t answer,” Spurrier Jr. said when asked about the possibility of taking over when his father eventually retires. “It’s something I don’t worry about, something I’m not talking about, something I’m not politicking for. I don’t want to have a comment either way about that.
"Certainly South Carolina is a great program and has gotten better every year. Whenever my father does decide to retire it’s going to be an excellent job, a wonderful opportunity. We’re going to have good players. We’re going to have some momentum versus a lot of teams we play. Whenever that day comes, it will be a good job. I’ll talk about whatever I’ve got to talk about when that happens.”
The truth of the matter is that Spurrier Jr. is quite content in his present assignment as South Carolina’s recruiting coordinator, co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.
“I’m doing well,” he said. “I’ve got a bunch of kids. I’ve got a great job making a lot of money. Anytime you hear somebody talk about security in coaching football, it doesn’t happen very often. I know eventually something’s got to happen and I’ll deal with it when it comes. Certainly in coaching, you have to have your eye looking forward, but you have to press on and do the best you can in the job you have right now.”
Spurrier Jr. has spent nine seasons at South Carolina and is the only remaining coach from his father’s original staff.
South Carolina’s coaches received across-the-board raises in January, and Spurrier Jr.’s raise took him from $325,000 to $380,000 a year.
Only defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward ($700,000 per year) and co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Shawn Elliott ($430,000 per year) make more.
Born in 1971 in Palo Alto, California, during the period when his father was playing quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Spurrier Jr. has grown up around the game.
Spurrier Jr. played at Duke as a walk-on wide receiver (after his father had left his coaching job at Duke to take the head coaching job at Florida), eventually earning a scholarship.
He has coached under his father at Florida, with the Washington Redskins and at South Carolina, but he also spent two seasons under Bob Stoops at Oklahoma and one season under Mike Stoops at Arizona.
Spurrier Jr. has had nibbles for offensive coordinator jobs and at least one head coaching job—at Coastal Carolina.
“Coastal Carolina called me,” he said. “That didn’t get very far, but that was certainly a very interesting opportunity. It’s a good program and a good team. The athletic director was a good guy, the president was a good guy. It’s a program that’s got every reason to be successful.
“I’ve had people contact me about different things. I don’t know what my next move will be, whether it's offensive coordinator somewhere or I got the opportunity to be a head coach somewhere.”
Either way, Spurrier Jr. says he’s not obsessed with being a head coach.
“No,” he said, when asked if that was a burning ambition. “Certainly there are people like that who think, ‘What’s my path? What’s my strategy to be a head coach?’ I don’t have an agent. I know people every time I see them, they’re shaking hands with somebody giving them their resume. That’s something that, when the day comes, I will have earned the right to whatever option I get.”
Spurrier Jr. looks like his father, talks like his father and has a lot of the same mannerisms and patterns of speech.
Whether or not he can coach like his father remains to be seen.
Spurrier Sr. has made it clear he will have no involvement in selecting his successor.
“I would have no input whatsoever on who follows me here at South Carolina,” Spurrier said. “I have never thought a head coach should even make suggestions. We have two men here very capable, Ray Tanner (athletic director) and Harris Pastides (university president). The athletic director and the president, they make the call.”
Maybe so, but when reading the tea leaves, there are a lot of factors that appear favorable for a Spurrier-to-Spurrier Jr. transition when the senior, who just turned 69, decides to resign.
Spurrier likes Columbia and plans to stay here after he gives up coaching. Both sons, Spurrier Jr. and Scott Spurrier, live here—as does one of his two daughters.
He has already agreed to stay on at South Carolina in the role of special adviser after he steps down as head coach.
Almost certainly, Spurrier Sr. would enjoy the post a lot more if Spurrier Jr. was head coach.
South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner, having been elevated to his position from head baseball coach, would likely prefer an in-house hire for the continuity it would provide.
Tanner has hired two head coaches since taking over as athletic director and both have been in-house hires: Chad Holbrook, who took over for Tanner as head baseball coach, and sand volleyball coach Moritz Moritz, who was an assistant coach on the indoor volleyball team.
Granted, selecting a head football coach is a much more serious matter than selecting a sand volleyball coach or even a baseball coach, but if the Gamecocks keep on winning, it will be hard for Tanner to go outside the program when selecting a successor.
Both Spurrier and Spurrier Jr. have paid their dues, and Tanner will respect that.
In the meantime, with South Carolina having unprecedented success in the form of three consecutive 11-2 seasons and three consecutive top-10 finishes, Spurrier Sr. is in no hurry to give up coaching.
Likewise, Spurrier Jr. is in no hurry to succeed him.
“I do think it’s neat that everything he enjoys in life comes from being a football coach,” Spurrier Jr. said. “I don’t think I’ve ever once heard him say, ‘When I retire, I’d like to do this.’ He has never mapped out a plan or things he would like to do that retiring would permit him to do.
"Everything he likes to do, everywhere he likes to travel, all the things he does are through being the head football coach at South Carolina. He’s got a lot of momentum going, the program does, I’m very fortunate to be a part of it. Right now, we’re going to worry about getting ready for Texas A&M.”
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise indicated.
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