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One Coach Who Can't Get Over the Gators

Florida’s Tim Tebow or Ole Miss’s Jevan Snead? One has received the title of “Greatest College Player Ever,” and lists two national championships plus a Heisman Trophy on his resume, while the other player boasts one Cotton Bowl victory and an 8-4 record in 2008. There is no comparison, right?

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The SEC preseason first team ballot of South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said otherwise.

Spurrier later admitted the mistake of voting Snead over Tebow (and clarified that another member of the SC staff had filled out the ballot for him). Nevertheless, the creator of the Fun N’ Gun cannot afford many more blunders this season in his quest to finally thrust the Gamecocks into national championship contention.

In 2005, the Florida Gators were in search of a new head coach. University officials told Spurrier he would be treated like all the other candidates for the position. The former Gators coach and 1966 Heisman Trophy winner took offense and instead opted for South Carolina.

Spurrier won SEC Coach of the Year that year and guided the Gamecocks to a 7-5 record. Most notably that season, South Carolina beat Florida, sending a crushing blow to the national title aspirations of Florida and their new coach, Urban Meyer.

The following season, Spurrier lead his team to eight wins, his best year in Columbia. However, South Carolina failed to beat Florida. The Gators blocked a would-be-game-winning field goal to preserve a 17-16 victory.

South Carolina did notch its first bowl victory under Spurrier, but nothing in 2006 could match the sting of Florida thrashing Ohio State to win its second national title. In two years in the SEC, the national title scoreboard read: Urban Meyer 1, Steve Spurrier 0.

After signing an extension in 2007, Spurrier was ready to make South Carolina a national powerhouse. Victories over 11th-ranked Georgia and 8th-ranked Kentucky thrust the Gamecocks into sixth place in the BCS standings. Perhaps Spurrier was on his way to his first collegiate national championship since 1996?

All hope evaporated quickly as South Carolina lost five games in a row to miss a bowl berth. 2008 produced an Outback Bowl appearance, but again the Florida Gators were too much to handle. A 56-6 loss in Gainesville took the college football world aback. To add insult to injury, Florida edged Oklahoma for its second national title in three years. Twelve years in the swamp produced just one title for Spurrier. Meyer won his second in just his fourth season in Gainesville.

Meyer returns with the preseason Number 1 Gators. For Spurrier, it is finally time to break free of the reigns of SEC powerhouses, such as LSU, Georgia, Alabama and, of course, Florida. Sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia headlines an inexperienced offense, ready to face a difficult schedule. Circled in black marker on every Gamecock calendar is the September 24th matchup against Ole Miss. The game will be nationally televised, giving fans nationwide a chance to see the SEC’s second-best quarterback: Jevan Snead.