South Carolina will honor the Steve Spurrier era of success when the Gamecocks host Jacksonville State on Saturday, November 4. The 2010 SEC East Champion squad as well as the three 11-win teams from 2011-2013 will also be honored. From where I sit, the Spurrier era was important for so many reasons. Not only did he put South Carolina football on the map with national success, but he kept us there long enough for the program to be relevant from coast to coast.
There are some that have said “it couldn’t be done here.” What those teams proved was that, while there are challenges to having a nationally significant football program, it can indeed be done here.
With all due respect to what current head coach Shane Beamer is building now at South Carolina, let’s take a trip down memory lane and pick out the best moments of the Spurrer era with the Gamecocks.
There are so many great ones, but I would think most fans would have to put South Carolina’s 2010 victory over number one Alabama at Williams-Brice Stadium at the top of the list. I won’t tell you you’re wrong. That was significant on so many levels. Not only was it the Gamecocks’ first ever win over a top ranked team in football, but it set the stage to a run at the program’s first ever SEC East title.
I’m going to invoke writer’s privilege here by lumping several games together and putting the five-game win streak over Clemson as one of the top five moments as well.
Beating your rival is always big but beating the Tigers five straight times had never been done before, and it was soooooo satisfying.
Feel free to pause and reminisce.
Hopefully Shane Beamer and the 2023 Gamecocks can make it back-to-back against the Tigers later this month!
One of my favorite moments of all-time was when South Carolina went to Athens in 2011 to take on Georgia. I had previously worked in Georgia for 13 years and was constantly surrounded by Bulldogs fans. The struggle was real.
I had the opportunity to work this game as I was the color analyst for the replay broadcasts that would air on SportsSouth at the time (a separate broadcast that was recorded live, but not aired until the following day in an edited format). I still remember Melvin Ingram taking that fake punt for a 68-yard touchdown and struggling to remain professional in the press box. Ingram later scored a defensive touchdown after a strip sack from Jadeveon Clowney.
That was a good day.
The 2005 season was huge, not just because it was Spurrier’s first year in Columbia, but the Gamecocks defeated the HBC’s old team, Florida, at Williams-Brice Stadium. That gave us all hope that good things were on the way, so I feel like that has to be one of the most important moments as well.
Coach Spurrier didn’t build the Gamecocks into a powerhouse overnight, but this was one of the first big steps.
Clinching the SEC East with a win over Florida for the Gamecocks’ first victory in the Swamp during the 2010 season has to be there because it secured South Carolina’s first trip to the SEC Championship game.
It proved once and for all that it CAN be done here. Marcus Lattimore rushed for 212 yards and three touchdowns. What a way to grab momentum after Florida ran the opening kick-off back for a touchdown.
There were so many other great moments that could have been in that top five as well, including the 2012 win over #5 Georgia at Williams-Brice Stadium. Man, that game was loud after the Gamecocks went up 21-0 in the first quarter and won it 35-7. I remember Ace Sanders punt return for a touchdown and that he actually fumbled it at the start of the play!
What about the 2012 Capital One bowl win over Nebraska? That gave South Carolina its first ever 11-in season and ended up being the first of three such seasons.
Don’t forget about Connor Shaw coming off the bench in that game at Missouri where the Tigers led 17-0 in the fourth quarter.
A lot of fans will want to put the 2013 Outback Bowl win over Michigan in there. I don’t have a problem with that. Who can forget “the hit” from Clowney that changed the momentum of the game, and of course Dylan Thompson coming off the bench with the game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute.
So many great memories. What are your top five moments from the Steve Spurrier era? From where I sit, I’m glad I had the chance to witness that part of our history.
Hit me up on X @SCBrad92 with your favorite.