Pitfalls For USC
October 15, 2015
The initials “USC” have always pertained to two different schools and times in my life. I attended college in California and USC out there is Southern Cal University in Los Angeles. Within a few weeks of moving to the Carolinas, USC quickly meant South Carolina University.
Surprisingly, both USC’s received national headlines on Monday. South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier unexpectedly resigned six weeks into the season and Southern Cal fired it’s head football coach Steve Sarkisian.
Tough day for the Steves at their respective USC schools.
I spent some time in these pages a few weeks back pondering the future of Spurrier. I thought out loud that this may be his final season in Columbia.
Spurrier decided to retire, ending his storied career at the age of 70. He told his team Monday evening after the Gamecocks fell 45-24 to LSU on Saturday, moving South Carolina to 2-4 (0-4 SEC) on the season. His college coaching career will end with a record of 228-89-2 combined in 26 seasons at Duke (three), Florida (12) and South Carolina (11).
Spurrier sounded more and more frustrated as this season progressed. The frustration had to come from the fact that not only did the Gamecocks lose four of their last six games, they were outscored 137-76 in those contests.
For those who do not go as far back as I go, here is a brief recap of Spurrier’s career. He began his college head coaching career at Duke, going 20-13-1 in three seasons with the program. In 1989, he led the Blue Devils to their first bowl game in 29 years and a share of the ACC Championship, the program’s first in 37 seasons. He was also a two-time ACC Coach of the Year in Durham.
Spurrier was hired away from Duke by his alma mater, Florida. With the Gators, where Spurrier won a Heisman Trophy as a star quarterback in 1966, he went 122-27-1 (87-12 SEC), leading Florida to its first national title in the 1996 season along with six SEC championships and seven total SEC East crowns. Spurrier won five SEC Coach of the Year crowns with the Gators and also led Florida to the national title game in the 1995 season.
In 10-plus seasons at South Carolina, Spurrier amassed an 86-49 record, becoming the most successful coach in school history. The Gamecocks won their first and only SEC East title in 2010 and finished 11-2 in three consecutive years from 2011-13. Spurrier captured two SEC Coach of the Year honors in Columbia, starting with his first season in 2005.
Sarkisian, on the other hand, was his own worst enemy in 2015. His firing came one day after athletic director Pat Haden put Sarkisian on an indefinite leave of absence from the program. Haden’s press release spoke of the school being concerned for Sarkisian and hope that he can focus on his personal well being.
There have been multiple incidents of public intoxication with Sarkisian of late. Recent reports of the embattled coach being impaired during team functions have circulated in local and national media outlets.
Sarkisian was in his second season as the Trojans’ coach and posted a 12-6 overall record at USC. This season, USC has a 3-2 record including a 17-12 loss on Saturday at home to Washington. Things were bad on the field for the Trojans this season, but clearly Sarkisian was battling much bigger issues off of it.
Hopefully not coaching, which is one of the most stressful, time consuming jobs out there, will allow Sarkisian time to get treatment for his issues with alcohol and to get his life back on track.
Hornets Roster Looks Different
I may not write a preview for the Charlotte Hornets this fall. I have done so annually for years and it seems like I say and do the same things.
I tell everyone who the new faces are and try to find different words predicting that the franchise will be fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Usually they come up short.
No predictions this year. But here are some of the new faces. As always, the names are familiar. And history tells us that most of the familiar players this franchise adds to its roster are on the backside of their careers.
Maybe this year will be different.
I do like one of the newcomers. And I think fans will also like Nicolas Batum, formerly of the Portland Trail Blazers. He is a versatile player who should thrive now that he will be a showcase players instead of a role player. Batum plays hard and will fit in well with the defensive-minded Hornets.
Jeremy Lin is one of the offseason acquisitions. Lin will back up starting point guard Kemba Walker.
Another Jeremy, Jeremy Lamb, could be a surprise. Lamb has spent the last few seasons trying to get playing time in Oklahoma City. That was hard to do as he was primarily Kevin Durant’s backup.