It's amazing what a little bit of winning -- both on the field and the recruiting trail -- can do for a college football coach.
Just ask Steve Spurrier, who despite a handful of speedbumps this spring is still basking in the glow of last year's surprising SEC East title and the Gamecocks' flurry of recent in-state recruiting coups, from Alshon Jeffery in 2009 to Marcus Lattimore in 2010 to now Jadeveon Clowney in 2011. After years of mediocrity and persistent rumors each subsequent (sevin-win) season would be his last, Spurrier now says he's ready to coach well into the middle of this decade, if not beyond. As he told the Sporting News:
“I think we have the best talent since I’ve been here,” he said, “and I’m feeling really good about where the program is at and where I’m at. I’ve got at least three or four more years in me."
“I feel like I’ve been saying three or four more years since I was 50, and now I’m 65 and saying the same thing. But I really mean it.”
By this point, it seems silly to doubt him. Even as Spurrier also admits he expected "to do a little bit better" when he first arrived in Columbia, he now has both the sort of team that can contend for divisional titles and a division -- thanks to the surprising struggles at Georgia, Tennessee and Florida -- that's more wide-open than at any time in its 20-year history.
Add in that even with the relative disappointment of Spurrier's first seasons he's still enjoyed more sustained success than any other coach in Carolina's (inexplicably poor) history, and it's the safest of safe bets that the Ol' Ball Coach is going to be at the Gamecock helm for as long as he wants to be. If he says that's three to four years or more, thanks to the likes of Jeffery and Lattimore and Clowney, it's almost certainly going to be three or four years ... or more.