Doc Five: Coaches who could probably use a big season – No. 5, Steve Spurrier

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.



This week's list is not running down what coaches are on the "hot seat." Some might be coaching for their job in 2014, including the coach who will be at the top of this list (we don't assume anyone will be surprised when we name him Friday). But some on the list are under some pressure to have a big season and are in no danger of being fired, including Steve Spurrier.

Spurrier is a godsend for South Carolina. He has done an insanely good job with the Gamecocks, building a program to heights it has never been to before. South Carolina won 11 games each of the last two seasons, something it had never accomplished once before. He's one of the best college coaches ever. The Gamecocks are lucky to have him.

But, this seems like a turning point season for the Gamecocks. South Carolina seems like the "very good but not quite elite" program in the SEC. But it has a chance to take the next step and change that perception this season.

Even with the tremendous turnaround under Spurrier, South Carolina has played for the SEC championship only once and was defeated 56-17 by Auburn in 2010. That wasn't even Spurrier's best Gamecocks team. It went 5-3 in the SEC regular season, wasn't competitive against the eventual national champion Tigers in the conference title game and lost to Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

South Carolina has been very good the last two years, with solid bowl wins against Nebraska and Michigan. And yet, there has been no BCS berth or conference championship. South Carolina hasn't won a conference title since 1969. It has never played in one of the major bowl games.

That's why this season is a pretty big one for the program.

The Gamecocks have a once-in-a-generation player in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. They have two quarterbacks, Dylan Thompson and Connor Shaw, who have played at a very high level. The Gamecocks lost some very good players, but this is a team that ranked eighth in the final AP poll and seventh in the coaches poll and didn't lose a player projected to go in the first round of the draft (safety D.J. Swearinger is widely considered to be a late second-round pick). South Carolina needs to find some skill position players, but don't forget that Spurrier is an offensive mastermind. He can make it work.

This is a team with top-end talent, one that came very close to a championship season last year. Its only two losses were on the road to LSU and Florida. A Week 2 road game this season at Georgia will be very telling, because the rest of the schedule is manageable. The other road games are against UCF, Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri. Those are all winnable. Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU aren't on the schedule. If South Carolina can win at Georgia, the people in Columbia have a good reason to start dreaming big.

This could be South Carolina's best chance at a SEC title. Unless Clowney surprises everyone and comes back for the 2014 season, this will be his last go-around in college ball. This is still a very young roster on the whole, but this season shapes up pretty well for South Carolina to make a run at a truly special season.

If Spurrier, who turned 68 on Saturday, can't get the Gamecocks over the hump and win the SEC or get to one of the major bowl games this season, he might not have too many more opportunities as good as this one.

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