Rumor Mill: Could South Carolina be grooming a replacement for Steve Spurrier?

South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier against the Michigan Wolverines during the second half of the 2013 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. South Carolina won 33-28. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Shawn Elliot’s decision to turn down the open offensive line coaching position at Alabama raised eyebrows throughout the SEC. Elliot did interview with Tide coach Nick Saban, but informed his boss with the Gamecocks, Steve Spurrier, that he would be sticking around Columbia on Friday.

Obviously, retaining the program’s offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator is huge for South Carolina in the short-term.

However, both he and The Ole’ Ball coach may have been thinking about something far bigger than simply next season.

They may have been thinking about a changing of the guard, according to ESPN SEC expert Chris Low:

But he’s a Camden, S.C., native and grew up attending South Carolina games at Williams-Brice Stadium with his father, who was a South Carolina state highway patrolman.

Elliott obviously feels at home at South Carolina even when a powerhouse like Alabama comes calling.

Here’s something else to consider: If you’re looking for legitimate candidates to replace Spurrier when the Head Ball Coach does decide to step aside, Elliott would (and should) be in that conversation.

He’s a superb coach and an excellent fit at South Carolina.

Spurrier is unquestionably one of the greatest players and coaches in the 100-plus year history of college football. He won the Heisman Trophy as a star quarterback for the Florida Gators back in 1966. He then became the first Heisman winner to coach another Heisman winner when he and Florida quarterback Danny Weurffel dominated opposing defenses in 1996. That same year, Spurrier led his alma mater to its very first national title.

After 12 years with the Gators, he resigned and spent a few forgettable years in the NFL before returning to the college ranks.

Over the last eight seasons, he has built South Carolina into a national powerhouse. He is already the program’s all-time winningest coach with a 66-37 overall record and the Gamecocks have won 11 games in each of the last two seasons, a first in school history.

He first started out as the youngest head coach in the USFL when, in 1983, he took over for the Tampa Bay Bandits. He was 37 at that time and now, at the age of 67, he prepares for yet another year in charge.

His run has been long, storied and overwhelmingly successful. By no means are we saying that Spurrier must retire or that he is planning on doing so.

However, it never hurts to have a plan in place. Should Spurrier and a brilliant football mind such as Elliot create a situation where there is going to be a smooth transfer of power, South Carolina’s football program will be set up for another decade (or more) of sustained success.

Check out where Spurrier’s 2013 South Carolina team ranks in our way too early preseason top 25.