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How much more of this will Spurrier tolerate?

1/1/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

This can't be why Steve Spurrier came back to college football.

Of course, the argument could be made that it's not really Steve Spurrier that has been walking the sideline the last four seasons at South Carolina. Maybe it's just an imposter.

This much we know for certain: The product hasn't been Spurrier-esque.

The Gamecocks' dismal performance Thursday in their 31-10 loss to Iowa in the Outback Bowl was another stark reminder for Spurrier on a couple of different fronts.

One, he ain't at Florida anymore.

Two, maybe those people who advised him that he couldn't win the way he wanted to at South Carolina before he took the job knew what they were talking about.

This is a program that is hopelessly stuck in football purgatory. The Gamecocks are always going to be just good enough to keep their head above water in the SEC, but they're never going to be good enough to win championships.

And that's whether Spurrier, Lou Holtz, Pete Carroll, Bill Parcells or Vince Lombardi is running the show in Columbia.

In a way, it's sad to see this happening to Spurrier at this point of his career. He's a Hall of Fame coach who changed the way they play football in the SEC.

But the ugly facts ever since he returned to the college game are this: He's lost more games than he's won against SEC opponents. He regularly loses to arch-rival Clemson, and his teams have unraveled each of the past two seasons.

The Gamecocks, in falling behind 31-0 to the Hawkeyes, have now lost a total of 12 games the past two seasons. They lost their last three games this season by a combined 118-30 margin, and only beat one FBS team with a winning record.

Maybe we should have seen this latest debacle coming. There was more talk coming out of the South Carolina camp about who was going to be eligible and who was going to turn pro than there was about Iowa.

The Hawkeyes were ready to play. The Gamecocks weren't. It's that simple ... and that's also coaching.

How embarrassing is it when Spurrier has to spend his time breaking up arguments between his players on the sideline? And on the field, it wasn't any better. When the Gamecocks weren't turning it over, they were committing a silly penalty to nullify a field goal.

Ellis Johnson's defense gets a semi-pass, even though Shonn Greene and the Hawkeyes' offensive line beat up on the Gamecocks for much of the first half.

But at least the South Carolina defense was able to come up with some turnovers and a goal-line stand in the second half to hold Iowa to a field goal.

The offense on the other hand?

When did you ever think you'd see a Spurrier offense that was this dysfunctional, this ineffective and this void of any real firepower?

Redshirt freshman Stephen Garcia turned it over on four of the Gamecocks' first five possessions, and Spurrier went to Chris Smelley in the second half. It was the same story all season, back and forth at the quarterback position.

The translation: There's not a quarterback on campus who Spurrier fully believes in.

Still, the most indicting thing for Spurrier coming out of Thursday's beatdown is that his team looked, for the most part, disinterested.

It makes you wonder when the Head Ball Coach is going to lose his interest.