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September 29, 2005

Can South Carolina ever build an Elite Program?

Since this is an off week for UGA, I prepared a non-Dawg article. Attempting to answer the question....."Can Steve Spurrier make Carolina an SEC Champion?" -- by Paul Westerdawg

Some of the experts have poo-poo'd South Carolina's chances of ever being an elite team due to the limited depth of the in-state talent pool. Others pointed to the Chicken Curse.

[Photo: Spurrier burning up the Recruiting Trail]

I think it's important to dismiss the curse and look at exactly how shallow the Blue Chip recruiting pool in the state of South Carolina is.

I think it was Danny Ford who recently said on the Paul Finebaum show that "the state of South Carolina has about 12-14 blue chippers each year, and everyone wants them. Not just Carolina or Clemson."

12-14 blue chippers? Geez. That doesn't sound like many kids. Let's look at the numbers.

According to the's Database
5 Star Players in SC: 2
4 Star Players in SC: 3
3 Star Players in SC: 16
(Source: as of 9/29/05)

Now compare that to....
5 Star Players in GA: 2
4 Star Players in GA: 14
3 Star Players in GA: 49

[Photo: Spurrier vomits in his own mouth upon seeing the stats]

It doesn't sound like Danny Ford and are that far apart. It also looks like Gwinnett County, Georgia may have as many blue chippers as the entire state of South Carolina.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the recruiting services are always right. There will always be 3 star kids like David Pollack that become All-Americans, and 1 star kids like Thomas Davis who become first round draft picks. There will always be 5 star players like Jasper Sanks or Patrick Pass who basically bust out.

Recruiting is not an exact science, but recruiting is DEFINITELY a numbers game.

Let's face it, the 3, 4 and 5 star players are more likely to become Elite college players than 1 or 2 star players. Texas, Oklahoma, Southern Cal, Tennessee, and Miami are loaded to the gills with blue chippers year in and year out. And, they have Top 10 seasons year in and year out. That isn't a wacky coincidence.

[Photo: Spurrier holds all Gamecock Trophies in the palm of his hand.]

Above I showed the difference in blue chip players QUANTITY in Georgia compared to South Carolina. Now, let's look specifically at the Top 25 players in the State of South Carolina.

Currently, SC has only one of the Top 10 players in state committed (#10 Rodney Paulk). They have already lost 5 of the Top 10 in state kids to other schools. They only have 2 of the Top 25 recruits in the state committed. Granted, they are still in the running for #1 Clifton Geathers and #4 Adam Patterson, but things don't look great in state.

Scott Kennedy of told the Athens Banner Herald, "you're only talking maybe 15 caliber SEC guys [in state], you can't afford to lose three to your neighbor and watch Tennessee and Florida State get one."

That's ok, you're not going to sign them all in state. Let's look at how SC is doing out of state. Nationally, only one uncommitted 3 star player or higher out-of-state player is listed as having a "High" level of interest in South Carolina by

[Photo: Lou Holtz explains how he won all of those SEC East 4th Place Divisional Championships]

So will Steve Spurrier ever build an SEC Champion at South Carolina? I say no.

That's not to say he won't win some ball games. And it's not to say that he won't beat UGA every now and then. In fact, he's got a great shot at beating Georgia next year in Columbia as we graduate 2 of everything. He will probably beat UGA once every 4 or 5 years just like Carolina always has.

But in terms of sustained ability to compete for the SEC Championship. No way. He doesn't have access to the players.

And much more importantly, it is very difficult to build a program when the other teams on your schedule are Up. Ideally, you attempt to build a program during a power void where the teams around you are down.

When Spurrier first arrived in Florida in 1990, he found Goff at UGA, a declining Dye at Auburn, and a declining Majors at UT. Today, UF, UT and Georgia are Top 10 programs, and Clemson is in as good or better shape than SC.

The only way for Spurrier to win is to recruit the heck out of the state of Georgia. And that means getting kids that Georgia and Georgia Tech want. Not our leftovers. For instance, it isn't a recruiting coup when you sign kids that want to enroll at Georgia Tech, but don't have the grades to even be allowed to visit the campus (like Carlos Thomas).

Spurrier will build a better program than he found. But an SEC Champion? No way.

He'll play UGA tough just like Holtz always did. And he'll walk away defeated by a turnaround job bigger than he could have ever imagined. Just like Holtz did.



ATL_eagle said...


Spurrier is going to have to recruit harder than he did at Florida, but I disagree on the potential of the program. Sure SC has a limited recruiting base, but the have the coach, the conference and enough good players in GA, NC and Fla to build a winner.

Anonymous said...

Love the captions for the pics!

A quick aside...I have to come to the defense of Patrick Pass. He may not have lived up to his potential at UGA, but he is doing pretty well for the Patriots right now. I don't think he was used correctly at UGA...should have been a fullback or 3rd down back..not a featured tailback. He is a good blocker and good receiver in the NFL.

Unknown said...

Patrick FRIGGING Pass played like a candy ass at Georgia. Donnan once said "He has an ankle injury that doesn't involve swelling, sprains, a break or ligament damage."

He coasted through life at UGA and we REALLY could have used him. My only regret regarding his tenure at UGA is that I didn't boo him more.

Patrick Pass is one of only 2 players I've ever booed at UGA. the other was Bobo in '96.

I dog cussed Kendrell Bell from the stands in Columbia in 2000, but that was a one time crime of passion. It wasn't premeditated and intentional.

Worrier said...

I generally agree that it'll be hard, if not impossible, to build a team at USC that wins the SEC.

However, the lack of home talent can be overcome with the right staff.

Tennessee has overcome it for years starting with Majors but going to new heights with Fulmer and Co. Also, the majority of home talent in Tennessee is 350 miles away in Memphis where loyalties to the big orange run thinner than the rest of the state. Bama is closer (and has proven it has deeper pockets) and Memphis High gets a fair share, not to mention Ole Miss and Miss St and Arkansas although Arkansas hasn't had as much success in football as I think they could have.

Spurrier, at least based on his reputation, isn't going to get the numbers and/or the beef to consistently line up and do what he wants. He'll get some skill players from outside SC and that'll help. And he'll coach them well, IMO. Plus there's no doubt the people are dedicated and pack the place.

I think he ought to work NC and VA as much as GA, plus get a few out of Florida where he surely has some connections. I don't know why a kid would go to NC State or even Chapel Hill (academics maybe) where the crowds are small and the passion is basketball, not football.

My point - the dearth of Div 1A talent in SC can be overcome. Not likely, as you say, but possible given the right commitment and skills by the staff.

Wes Wolfe said...

It's not so much the in-state talent (Auburn goes to Georgia since Shula's every Alabama HS coach's best friend), but something intangible about the school. Dietzel won a NC at LSU but went to USC and couldn't win, Holtz made EVERYBODY win except for USC -- it's fate. No one will win at Carolina over an extended period of time. It sucks, but it's true. Spurrier might get a few bowl wins, but no SEC title and nothing of significance. If they can beat Clemson, that would be nice, though.

Anonymous said...

We shall see...we shall see. Regardless of what you might think, SS has a huge reputation in college football and kids want to play for him. He got more speed into SC last year than anyone ever has, and he came in half way through recruiting season. Also, all of those recruits that you see have only given verbals which mean absolutely nothing. Spurrier will have the Gamecocks in contention for the SEC within a couple of years....just watch!

Unknown said...

Last year, Spurrier beat our Richmond for his QB. So, where's your star QB.

As for the Louisiana, Tennessee and Oklahoma comparisons, when South Carolina has the tradition of those schools or the facilities to compensate for the lack of in state talent, then the comparison would be valid.

Outside of a renovated weight room and a big stadium, SC's facilities are a joke.

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