Firing, suspension, retirement rock college football
The news read: USC coach Steve…
Not many could have expected what came next on one of college football’s most stunning – and unbelievable – days off the field.
The storied USC program on the West coast fired its troubled second-year coach Steve Sarkisian. Later Monday, Steve Spurrier told the players at the USC program on the East coast that the Head Ball Coach was done, effective immediately.
The seismic shocks began with Florida quarterback Will Grier’s one-year suspension by the NCAA for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Grier behind center, the Gators had vaulted into the top 10 and looked like title contenders once again after a 6-0 start.
A short time later, Southern Cal announced it had fired Sarkisian one day after ordering him to take a leave of absence. Sarkisian was hired a year ago to revive the Trojans. Instead, he showed up at practice Sunday in what athletic director Pat Haden determined was no condition to coach.
Spurrier capped off the day when the former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback for the Gators, who had led his alma mater to SEC supremacy with six titles and a national title from 1990-2001, decided it was time to shut it down, a person close to the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the school has not announced Spurrier’s decision.
Any one of the developments would have rocked the college football world, but here’s a look at all three and what’s next:
STARTED AT FLORIDA: Grier started things off in Gainesville when Florida announced their starting quarterback would miss the rest of this year and half of next after he violated the NCAA’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Grier apologized over and over, tearing up until first-year coach Jim McElwain came over to hug him. ”I did not check with the medical staff before taking it,” Grier said. The school plans to appeal the suspension. For now, sophomore Treon Harris will make his first start since the season opener.
AT SOUTHERN CAL: Sarkisian was the second bombshell to drop. He was on notice for an incident this summer when he showed up at a pep rally, appearing to be intoxicated while giving a speech. Sarkisian promised not to drink again during the season, but his unsteady appearance on Sunday led to Haden dismissing the coach he hired less than two years ago. The Trojans have put the program in the hands of offensive coordinator Clay Helton, who has been appointed interim coach.
AT SOUTH CAROLINA: Spurrier was the nightcap. It was no secret he wasn’t happy losing, but his midseason resignation was unexpected. Spurrier told fans on his call-in show just two weeks ago that he had much more in the tank and wasn’t near leaving the Gamecocks. An 0-4 start in the SEC apparently changed his mind. Spurrier is expected to make the news official on Tuesday and leave struggling South Carolina in the hands of one of his assistants.