Interim coach Elliott interviewing daily for Gamecocks job
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Interim coach Shawn Elliott has yet to meet formally with athletic director Ray Tanner to discuss replacing Steve Spurrier as South Carolina’s permanent coach.
Then again, Elliott believes he’s part of on-the-job interview process, in which he has the chance each practice, game and interaction with the players to prove he is the man for the job.
”I mean, every single day, I’m being interviewed,” Elliott said Tuesday.
Elliott took a necessary first step two weeks ago, capping the chaotic week of Spurrier’s resignation with a satisfying home win over Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks (3-4, 1-4 Southeastern Conference) hope to give Elliott more fodder for his resume when they face stumbling Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2).
While he knows fans might have their wish lists of coaches, Elliott also understands he’s in prime positon to make a big impression on Tanner.
The Gamecocks had last week off after defeating Vanderbilt, to heal bumps and bruises – and wounded psyches following Spurrier’s sudden departure.
Elliott and his staff went off recruiting and found the reception gratifying.
The former offensive line coach said people at high school games continually came up to shake his hand and wish him well, something he did not anticipate.
”I don’t know how this interim thing works, but I can imagine in a lot of places the interim coach doesn’t get treated like that,” Elliott said. ”It’s just kind of like, just waiting for this guy to get out of here and kind of get the next coach (in). But I never got a feeling like that was the case.”
South Carolina’s first trip to Texas A&M won’t be an easy one.
The Aggies were ranked No. 9 in the country two games ago off a 5-0 start. Back to back losses to Alabama and Mississippi dropped Texas A&M out of the rankings and, probably, from the SEC Western Division race.
”We’ve got a lot of things to fix,” Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said. ”In order to do that we’ve got to give them the right plan. We’ve got to show some leadership. We’ve got to get our guys pointed in the right direction.”
Texas A&M certainly found that a year ago against South Carolina, knocking off the then-ninth ranked Gamecocks 52-28 in a dominating road performance.
Elliott said the Aggies had exceptional speed across the board, something his team will again see this weekend. What disappointed South Carolina coaches a year ago, Elliott said, was how lackluster the Gamecocks were after getting struck by Texas A&M.
”We took that one shot and our guys had that shell shocked look on their face, and it went downhill from there,” Elliott said.
He wants to ensure the Gamecocks won’t cave in this time. The past two weeks were about rallying the players to each other and the coaches following Spurrier’s farewell.
This week, Elliott is focused on revamping game plans and play-calling to give his team the tools to succeed. One might be using multiple quarterbacks.
Elliott said the Gamecocks will open with former walk-on Perry Orth, but expected season starter Connor Mitch and freshman Lorenzo Nunez to see some action, too.
Mitch started the season’s first two games before he was sidelined by shoulder and hip problems. Nunez started games against UCF and Missouri until he, too, hurt his shoulder.
Elliott is willing to throw everything he’s got at opponents the next few weeks as he builds a case for him to stick around past November.
When the time comes, Elliott will put on a suit and tie and formally meet with Tanner to discuss his future.
”And when it does happen,” Elliott said, ”what we’ve done last week, this week, moving forward, will say a lot as well.”