Rick Neuheisel: ‘Spurrier Didn’t Quit On His Team’

After watching his team sputter to a 2-4 start, Steve Spurrier resigned as head football coach at South Carolina on Tuesday.

Spurrier, 70, is the second-winningest coach in SEC history – he trails only Alabama’s Bear Bryant – and resurrected a dormant Gamecocks program. Those are quite the accomplishments.

For Brandon Tierney, however, Spurrier’s midseason resignation means one thing and one thing only: he quit on his team.

“I understand that feeling,” CBS college football analyst Rick Neuheisel said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Having known the guy and having spent a lot of time around him, having played a lot of golf around him, (we) discussed many times his quick hook for quarterbacks, and always his answer was, ‘It’s time to give someone else another chance.’ He’d get frustrated with somebody’s play. In this case, he’s just frustrated with his own play. He’s frustrated with the lack of progress that he’s seen and I think he just basically gave himself the hook. I know where you’re going. You’re going to say, ‘Hey, why not finish the season? He was asked by the university president (Harris Pastides) to finish the season.’ I think he thinks this is better for the team. In his heart of hearts, I don’t think he’s doing it so he can go play golf. I think he’s doing it because he thinks in his heart of hearts this team will do better with someone else calling the shots.”

That’s fair, but what does this resignation prove or accomplish? Tiki Barber wondered. It simply creates dysfunction at the top of a program that’s already struggling.

It feels that way from the outside looking in; I don’t think it feels that way internally,” Neuheisel said. “I think probably there was a little bit of in-fighting with respect to how to go about changing things, and you get to a place in your life (where) you feel real comfortable with a protocol, with a way of doing things, with a style of offense and you’ve got a group of guys on your team that are really excited about doing something different. They’ve got a quarterback by the name of Lorenzo Nunez. That is a dual-threat athlete. That’s really not Steve’s cup of tea. Given where they are, I think he said, ‘You guys take him. Let’s see how you do.’”

Nunez has been electric this season and leads the team with 299 rushing yards. But if he isn’t Spurrier’s cup of tea, why give him a scholarship?

“Well, it’s like anything else,” Neuheisel said. “You look in the world of college football, and you try keeping up with the Joneses. I’ve said this many times on the air: If you’re not taking advantage of the rules (and trends) in college football . . . you’re crazy. It happens week in, week out. Nunes ran for over 100 yards just two weeks ago against Central Florida. I think that’s kind of where they’re going.

“But again, this is a philosophical argument,” Neuheisel continued. “I’m never going to convince you that he didn’t quit; you’re not going to convince me that he didn’t fire himself – and I understand both (points of view).”

Offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Shawn Elliott has been named South Carolina’s interim head coach.

The Gamecocks (2-4, 0-4) will go for their first SEC win of the season this Saturday when they host Vanderbilt (2-3, 0-2). Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m. ET.

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