Sunday, November 19, 2006

SPURRIER AT THE U?

In the middle of a week of essentially being a Michigan blog, I thought that this was actually a good idea. My silence was coming in the middle of a week in which South Carolina could become bowl-eligible. So I decided, on the fly, to continue to be quiet about the Gamecocks' big game.

Sorry, USC fans. I was desperate. I promise it won't happen again. But it looked like it worked.

And now there's a lot to tackle.

First up: Spurrier to Miami rumors.


Moving on?

It was kind of chilling when I opened up ESPN to look at some statistics and saw: "Say what? Spurrier says he's not going to Miami."

Understand that, as a political reporter, I am part of a breed that makes it a duty to slice, dice, splice and parse someone's statements to see if something is a denial or a non-denial denial. Especially when it comes to future ambitions.

So let's take a look at what the Head Ball Coach said ...

... to ESPN:

"I am not a candidate ... I took this job to do what the experts said couldn't be done, which was to win an SEC championship here. We've got a good recruiting class coming in, we think. That [Miami] is a tough job. This is the challenge for me."

... on a conference call:

But on his weekly teleconference with reporters, Spurrier said the reports were "just a rumor," and said his goal remains winning an SEC championship with the Gamecocks. "I have no interest in any other job except the one I've got. ... This is a wonderful place, wonderful fans. That's the goal is to win an SEC championship at South Carolina."

Here's my gut: He doesn't go. My gut's been wrong before -- in the immaturity of my youth, I said Bill Bradley would be the Democratic nominee for president in 2000. Not even close.


Don't believe this magazine. Ever.

Spurrier came to South Carolina wanting to do things that have never been done. He can't do that at Miami. They're used to conference crowns. Accustomed to BCS berths. Comfortable with national championships.

"But I came to South Carolina to win an SEC championship," he said, according to the ESPN report. "We haven't proven we can yet. But we have an outstanding program. We're going to make that our goal starting next year." (More on that later.)

The offense is beginning to click as well as it has in his two years at South Carolina. Blake Mitchell appears to be coming around. And, of course, there's the new facilities plan.


How could you leave a face like that?

And, as the ESPN report noted, Spurrier wanted to get away from the rabid expectations of Florida fans. But while Florida fans are only happen with a 9- or 10-win season, an SEC title and at least a BCS bowl, the only measure of success at Miami is a crystal football. Unless you have a NC trophy every year, the Hurricane faithful are restless. Ask Larry Coker.

And as good a shape as South Carolina is in for next year, Miami appears to be in complete disarray. I don't think their talent now is as good as their talent was even four or five years ago. Exhibit A: Tell me with a straight face that Kyle Wright is as good as Ken Dorsey. I'll laugh at you.

The football program doesn't appear to have adapted to new competition from South Florida, Florida International and Florida Atlantic for recruits. That won't get any easier after the disaster this year.

And the response to the brawl shows that Miami is in chaos. The administration and the football establishment are at odds. I can't even tell what Miami is trying to do on the field when I watch them.

Finally, going to Miami would be something the competitor in Spurrier couldn't stand, at least not on a college level: His time at South Carolina wasn't the success he wanted it to be.

There's not a lot of room in his denials, though there is a touch. But I think, hope and pray Spurrier will stay at South Carolina. Leaving now would be a cruel blow to the Gamecock faithful.

And a move he might regret.

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