COLUMBIA (AP) — Steve Spurrier knew it was time.
South Carolina was struggling and the gregarious and once innovative coach was a big reason why. Always one to do things his way, Spurrier believed he needed to step aside, and no one was going to change his mind.
Spurrier resigned as Gamecocks coach Tuesday, resisting pleas from the University of South Carolina president and athletic director to stay through the season — accepting the harsh reality that the team’s awful first half was oh him.
“You can’t keep a head coach as long as I have (coached) when it’s heading in the wrong direction,” Spurrier said.
The 70-year-old Spurrier considered leaving several times during his 11 seasons at South Carolina, most recently after last year’s 6-6 regular season. But a win over Miami in the Independence Bowl re-energized him and gave him hope for better things ahead.
The Gamecocks, though, have struggled at 2-4 and are 0-4 in the Southeastern Conference for the first time in Spurrier’s 23 seasons in the league.
“I’m responsible. I’m the head coach,” Spurrier said. “It’s time for me to get out of the way and let somebody else have a go at it.”
Spurrier said he felt he needed to step down now because he doesn’t believe there is accountability with players if they know the coach won’t be back next year. He also said he would be a recruiting liability.
Spurrier said it was unlikely he’d ever be a head coach in college again because of the recruiting aspect. He did hope to consult for a team one day and promised players he’d still see them in the weight room and around town.
He tried to keep things light hearted throughout the press conference.
“Why’s everyone all dressed up?” Spurrier said entering the room. “This isn’t a funeral.”
Spurrier’s decision ends a 16-year run for South Carolina football, which was led by two of college football’s all-time greats in Lou Holtz (1999-2004) and Spurrier.
Spurrier had never had a losing season in 25 previous seasons coach at Duke (1987-89), Florida (1990-2001) or South Carolina, where he has been since 2005 talking about achieving things that hadn’t been accomplished before with the Gamecocks.
“I was the best coach for this job 11 years ago, but I’m not today,” he said.