Steve Spurrier is about to get a nice, fat pay raise. According to Columbia’s The State newspaper, the Ol’ Ball Coach will see his salary jump from $3.3 million to $4 million. His staff will receive raises as well, once South Carolina’s board of trustees approves the increases in a vote tomorrow.
While coaching salaries are never quite cut and dried — they’re ever-shifting thanks to bonuses — The State reports that Spurrier should go from the 12th highest-paid coach in the country to #9 on the current list.
For Carolina it’s money well spent. For Spurrier it’s money well-earned.
In November of 2004, the South Carolina administration rolled the dice on a 59-year-old coach who’d flamed out in two seasons in the NFL and spent an entire year out of coaching after that. Florida could have had him back, but Gator AD Jeremy Foley passed.
With a football program that had been a doormat for the better part of a century, USC’s decision-makers felt they needed to take a chance on hiring an older coach, despite the NFL flubs and Florida’s lack of interest. That was the best decision in the history of the South Carolina athletic department. Given the added exposure and revenue created during Spurrier’s tenure, it could be argued that it was also the best decision in the history of the university, period.
It took Spurrier time to build the Gamecock program. While never suffering through a losing season, the coach’s teams did hover in mediocrity for five long years — 7-5, 8-5, 6-6, 7-6 and 7-6. A corner was turned in 2010 when the Cocks finished 9-5 and ended the year in the top 25. Since then, Carolina has been a perennial top 10 team finishing 11-2 in three consecutive years and winning two Capital One Bowls and an Outback Bowl.
When Spurrier — now just weeks from his 69th birthday — finally decides take off his visor and put on a shirt, he will have proven that South Carolina can indeed play with the big boys of the Southeastern Conference and the nation. He also might convince a few ADs out there not to be scared of hiring a man with a little wear on his tires. You don’t see many hires of coaches who are 60-plus. Spurrier’s success will hopefully change that trend.
Kudos to the coach and his aides for elevating South Carolina and then sustaining that success over four seasons. And kudos to the USC administration for being wise enough to reward them for their efforts.