The Cocks win, but the fallout from Spurrier's departure gets even worse

A Slap in the Face

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Spurrier talks with Kentucky coach Bob Stoops ahead of the Gamecocks' loss to the Wildcats on Sept. 12 - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAROLINA FOREST CHRONICLE/ LINDSAY HICKMAN
  • Photo courtesy of Carolina Forest Chronicle/ Lindsay Hickman
  • Spurrier talks with Kentucky coach Bob Stoops ahead of the Gamecocks' loss to the Wildcats on Sept. 12

South Carolina fans rejoice! Our boys were able to overcome the sudden resignation of the Head Ball Coach to defeat the Vanderbilt Commodores last Saturday. Interim head coach Shawn Elliott led the emotional Gamecocks to their first SEC win of the season, while the HBC himself wasted no time showing up on ESPN's GameDay live from Ann Arbor, Mich., on Saturday morning.

To be honest, I'm still not sure what to make of this whole Spurrier fiasco. It somehow seems to be getting worse. Listening to former Gamecock defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson on the Carolina Conversation with Bobby Hartin on Saturday, I became depressed. Johnson pointed out two important aspects to this resignation that I had not considered.

The first had to do with the choice of Shawn Elliott to become the interim head coach. Johnson described Elliott as the type of rah-rah coach who could pull the team together after the loss of their leader. But he cautioned that an emotional coaching style does not work for long. It's difficult to sustain the energy level for four quarters, let alone six games. Players begin to tune the coach out. The test for Elliott is not whether he could win an emotional home game against a team with inferior talent, it's whether he can win on the road against superior talent. He'll get the chance to prove his worth on Halloween when South Carolina travels to College Station to take on Texas A&M.

The second point Johnson made had to do with the motivation of all coaches on a personal level. Many of the coaches currently working for South Carolina know they will not be working for this team next year. While our coaches are undoubtedly professionals who want to perform well and want their players to perform well, their focus will not be on recruiting. Why would you bother to recruit players you won't be around to coach? The coaches are worried about their wives and families and the next chapter of their lives. If a disadvantage in recruiting was the reason Spurrier claimed for walking away early, the university is no better off with an interim coach.

Further depressing me this week was the news that South Carolina intends to pay Spurrier $900,000 for the remainder of this season. While it's commendable to want to reward the man who brought so much improvement to the university, this crosses the line from classy to completely fucking tone deaf. The players on this team are the ones risking their health with every snap and generating millions of dollars for the university. It's a slap in their face to refuse to pay them but to continue to pay the man who quit on them.

The decision to give Spurrier a payoff shows poor judgment at best and epitomizes the overt injustice of the NCAA at worst. Players cannot quit. The NCAA requires student-athletes to get permission from their current school before even talking to other programs about the possibility of a transfer. Even if permission is granted, they must sit out a year if they wish to transfer to another Division 1 school. I'm sure there are players who would like to play elsewhere now that Spurrier has left. However, the system is designed to reward the powerful and restrict the powerless.

President Richard Nixon opened China. He created the Environmental Protection Agency and pushed the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts through Congress. Nixon ended the draft and the war in Vietnam. Yet our first thoughts about Nixon rarely focus on his greatest achievements. We remember the way he left office. And while opening China was probably not as difficult as winning 11 games for three years in a row at South Carolina, Spurrier's decision to quit will be one of the first things we remember about him, too.

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