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Coming Soon: Elliott vs. Satterfield?


“Shawn certainly will be a candidate…”

With those words, University of South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner made former Appalachian State OL coach Shawn Elliott the first candidate to possibly replace the Ole Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier.

Spurrier won a national championship at Florida, took an, uh, um, brief detour to the NFL, then headed back to the college ranks. He landed at another SEC school, though far from a southern-fried powerhouse when he became the head man in Columbia. While there, he set coaching records and even helped the Gamecocks finish fourth — fourth! — in the nation in 2013.

/Begins Gator chomp salute to the OBC, which is hard to do AND type/

Spurrier, realizing his pass-happy “fun-and-gun” offense needed a ground component, hired Elliott away from App State in 2010. Elliott’s USC bio calls him the Mountaineers’ OL coach when he left Boone, but AppFans know he was more.

So. Much. More.

Where Jerry Moore was the steady hand of calm and experience guiding the Mountaineer machine, Elliott was both the emotional engine and a key part of the finely tuned guidance system that oversaw what for years was perhaps the most explosive — and balanced — offenses in FCS football. To be sure, in all the land. And Spurrier knew it.

Despite that informal, laid-back persona, his former players-turned-television-analysts say Spurrier can read stats and analyze film with the best of ‘em. So he knew the running and blocking schemes that helped App State win three FCS championships — and, nearly another (2009) — bore Elliott’s large fingerprints.

/Would NOT want to be on the business end of said fingerprints/

All one has to do is look at the Gamecocks’ record since Elliott’s arrival to understand why many AppFans preferred the former Mountaineer defensive end to replace Moore over the former ASU QB who got the gig, Scott Satterfield.

Entering what has been a disappointing 2-4 (0-4 SEC) start for South Carolina this season, the ‘Cocks were 49-17 overall since Elliott arrived, and an impressive 26-14 in the NFL’s minor league system SEC.

Just consider this part of Elliott’s official USC bio, which touts his innovative blocking schemes, when wondering why Spurrier and South Carolina officials tapped him to be, at least for now, the New Ball Coach:

“The Gamecock offense showed tremendous balance in 2011. The squad averaged 192 yards on the ground and 182 yards through the air. Carolina had a 100-yard rusher in eight of the 13 games. Offensive tackle Rokevious Watkins earned All-SEC honors in his final campaign.

“The former Appalachian State offensive line coach’s first Gamecock squad showed a significant turnaround upon his arrival, especially in the running game, as Carolina averaged 154.4 rushing yards per game to rank eighth in the SEC after finishing last in the league each of the previous three years.”

Elliott sidestepped, with impressive professionalism, during a Tuesday press conference questions about whether he thinks he has been handed an opportunity to essentially try out for the S.C. head coaching job over this season’s remaining six games.

But with names like Alabama Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart already being linked to the Gamecocks’ coaching search, it’s not a stretch to wonder if Spurrier is giving Elliott a chance to try out for some other head coaching position — or, at worst, consideration for an offensive coordinator gig at a Big Time FBS program.

Let’s say Elliott goes 4-2 or 3-3, with a signature win, say, on the road in Tennessee or at home against a Florida team suddenly without its QB — or, and AppFans will be on his side on Nov. 28, in the season finale in front of the home crowd against blood feud rival Clemson. Do that, and Elliott has made his case for a FBS head coaching job somewhere.

This blogger, however, is just not sure — yet — that a Power Five AD would be quite ready to hand the keys over to the former App State assistant. But after a successful run as a Power Five OC, or after a couple bowl berths as a HC for, say, a Sun Belt school? Yes.

Then Elliott has himself a resume befitting a Power Five head coaching position. AppFans prolly believe he’s ready now. The next six weeks will help decide that. This certainly is a case where your blogger hopes he’s wrong.

But even if Elliott goes 3-3 or one game better, don’t be surprised to see that familiar red face and buzz cut screaming at the top of his lungs getting his team fired up again soon at The Rock. But here’s one bet that he’s doing it in the visitor’s locker room.

Just glance at the Sun Belt standings and you’ll see a number of teams that might need new leadership — say, some innovative blocking schemes and an energetic recruiter. Also consider the conference’s history sending head coaches to Power Five schools.

Elliott easily could find himself standing across from the Kidd Brewer Stadium sideline he knows well, coaching against Satterfield in a very meaningful #FunBelt tilt as soon as next year. Now that would be appointment #FunBelt football.

The Mandarin (@App_Mandarin)


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