Wednesday, January 21, 2009 THE VISOR, part III

Coaching Changes

The staff changes for Spurrier this off season is remarkably longer than the list of high school athletes changing their minds about furthering their education in Columbia and the list of student-athletes changing zip codes. Regardless of whether the coaches left voluntarily or were kicked to the curb, there are undoubtedly some name tags being worn at staff meetings this winter inside Charles F. Crews Football Facility.

And there is no guarantee that the same coaches that started the meeting at the table are still there when the meeting is finished. 

On November 29, 2008 the chickens lost to arch rival Clemson 31-14 in Death Valley dropping their record to 7-5 on the season. The next day Spurrier announced the firing of John Hunt (offensive line) and the resignation of David Reaves (QB, recruiting coordinator). Hunt spent four years in Columbia and Reaves had spent seven season with the Gamecocks, including two as a grad assistant. 

On the way out the door, the ol' ball coach commented at how much he appreciated the coaches' contributions and that Reaves had been presented a "wonderful opportunity". Reaves was on his brother-in-law, Coach Kiffy's staff by the time the words were out of the Visor's mouth. He had accepted the position of coaching QBs.

Turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg as other coaches began reading what was written on the barn's wall. Even as his coaches were securing interviews with programs near and far, Spurrier was spinning the new staff as his best ever.

All told, five assistants (so far) have left the chicken plant in Columbia since the Clemson game:
  • Hunt - fired
  • Reaves - "wonderful" opportunity
  • Safeties coach Ron Cooper was encouraged to find the door, landed in Baton Rouge
  • Strength coach Mark Smith followed the trail of crumbs Reaves left behind and secured a spot in Knoxville
  • And Robert Gillespie, RBs coach

Perhaps the most telling sign was Gillespie's departure for Oklahoma State. Gillespie has played for or worked with the Visor since 1997, minus the year in between DC and Columbia. They've hoisted championship trophies together. 

And the fair feather'd fans of Columbia may not be done watching the program's assistants hop the nearest Greyhound just yet. The Indianapolis Colts are eyeing the coop to fill a spot on their staff and the mighty Saban himself may raid the barnyard as well. Rychleski (tight ends, special teams) and Lawing (d line), respectively are returning the calls.

"Honey, where'd we put the boxes?"

Has the image of the Visor with a half empty pack of gum, chewing madly and desperately trying to fill holes in an overburdened levee come into focus yet? 

Chances are that image is a harsh, cold reality to rooster fans.

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