COLUMBIA — A week after Steve Spurrier unexpectedly resigned as the South Carolina Gamecocks football coach and days removed from Shawn Elliott’s debut win as the interim coach, questions remain about the future coach of the team.
Elliott led the Gamecocks to a 19-10 victory against Vanderbilt on Saturday – giving South Carolina (3-4, 1-4 SEC) its first conference win this season. But his short coaching experience may weigh against him, when Athletics Director Ray Tanner makes his decision on the new head coach at the end of the season.
After graduating from Appalachian State in 1996, Elliott spent 13 years coaching at his alma mater, serving as the offensive line coach for the last nine. He joined the Gamecocks’ staff in 2010 as a running backs coach and, two years later, was named an offensive coordinator.
His one week of head coaching experience leaves many Gamecock fans wondering if that’s enough to run a SEC team. Some suggest someone with a higher profile might replace Spurrier, who left after the team’s 2-4 start.
The Carolina Reporter walked the streets of downtown Columbia, asking fans their thoughts on Elliott’s future and what qualities the next coach must possess.
Many hesitated about the Camden native’s future as the coach after this season, believing his potential selection as head coach will be determined by the team’s success. Though fans are uncertain about Elliott’s tenure, Garnet and Black followers knew that they wanted the next coach to command respect, listing it as priority.
Under Spurrier, there wasn’t many incidents that led to player suspensions. Most notably, he had to deal with the the misconduct of Stephen Garcia, the Florida high school standout who came to USC in 2007. The former quarterback’s off-the-field incidents led him to serve multiple suspensions, before he was released from the team during the 2011 season.
South Carolina fans voiced respect as the top quality because they said it is a vital factor in keeping the team together.
“Respect keeps the team together and it keeps the team positive,” Andrew Carnes said. “If you don’t respect your coaches, your players whoever, you won’t be a team,” he added.
Along with a respected program, fans said their biggest desires were for the new coach to enhance recruiting and continue the winning culture South Carolina has seen in past years.
Antoine Thomas is a student at the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and writes for The Carolina Reporter at USC.