COLUMBIA - Steve Spurrier never expected to gloss over the final chapter of his storied career. It's not his style. If the Head Ball Coach commits to something, he jumps all in.
History was on Spurrier's mind when he arrived at South Carolina in 2005. Unsurprisingly, one of the first things he did was check the record books. There was Rex Enright, sitting on 64 wins. Spurrier passed him two years ago when South Carolina beat Clemson in Death Valley.
And he's still going.
In one week, Spurrier will begin his 10th season at South Carolina when the Gamecocks hold their first fall practice. He'll become the first person to coach two SEC football programs for at least 10 years. It's a milestone, one most people never thought Spurrier would approach in Columbia.
He's still here, and maybe it shouldn't be surprising. Indeed, the former Florida coach jumped all in at USC.
"Well, I hoped to be here at least eight (years), nine or so because I noticed the winningest coach record was 64 back in '05, and I said, 'I hope to do that. I hope to win more than that. Tell people I plan on being here,'" Spurrier said Thursday. "I didn't plan on being here two or three years and try to get one of those glamor jobs. I wanted to see if we could build this up to something special.
"We're close. We're very close."
Spurrier finds joy in rattling off South Carolina's accomplishments. He hasn't led the Gamecocks to an SEC title - at least not yet - but the program has achieved many firsts under his watch. Three straight 11-win seasons. Five straight wins over Clemson. Twice becoming the preseason pick to win the SEC East.
The milestones are noteworthy, but they can lack context. Perhaps Spurrier's most impressive feat is how he turned around the program's national perception. South Carolina is one of three football teams to finish ranked in the top 10 each of the past three seasons, joining Alabama and Oregon.
Spurrier is 19-17 against South Carolina's four biggest rivals: Clemson, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. The Gamecocks have beaten each rival at least three times this decade, another first.
"I encourage our fans out there, get your media guide and see the history of our school," Spurrier said Thursday. "Look at our records against Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Clemson prior to nine years ago. It wasn't real pretty.
"We've come a long way. Hopefully, we can keep going and do better things."
There's a reason nobody expected Spurrier to last 10 years at South Carolina. The HBC will turn 70 years old in April. Even Spurrier has admitted he expected to be spending more time on the golf course at this age, not leading a program to unprecedented heights.
Of course, Spurrier also says age is merely a number. His players would never guess he's the second-oldest coach at a BCS school, only behind Kansas State's Bill Snyder (74).
"He doesn't act like it," senior quarterback Dylan Thompson said last week at SEC Media Days. "He acts like he's 40 years old. He's energetic, and I love it. He's passionate every single day."
That passion is still focused on one target.
Spurrier wants to bring that elusive SEC championship to South Carolina. All the necessary ingredients exist this season. It would put Spurrier in another select group of coaches, winning the SEC title at two different schools.
"I would say we built ourselves up there," Spurrier said. "Obviously, the SEC championship and even a national - if you win an SEC, you can win a national - are still out there."
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