Key Football Eras in Carolina Football
- On Christmas Eve in 1892, the University of South Carolina fielded its first football team against Furman University. At that time the football team was not sanctioned by the University. They provided their own uniforms and paid their own train fare in order to participate in the game which was held in Charlesto, S.C. The team was nicknamed the "College Boys" by The News and Courier and their supporters wore garnet and black. The 1896 season saw the inaugural game against Carolina's arch-rival Clemson, which it won 12-6.
- Coach C.R. Williams led the Gamecocks to a 14–3 record during the 1902 and 1903 football seasons. In 1906, the Board of Trustees banned participation in football after the faculty complained that the coarseness of chants and cheers, yelled by the students at football games, were not gentlemanly in nature. Within months The Board of Trustees reversed their decision after hearing pleas and receiving petitions from students and alumni. Play was allowed to resume in 1907.
- The Billy Laval era (1928–1934) - Coach Laval came to USC from Furman University. Laval accepted a three-year contract worth $8,000 per year to coach the Gamecocks, which made him the highest-paid coach in the state. From 1928 to 1934, he led the Gamecocks to seven consecutive winning seasons and a 39–26–6 overall record, which included a perfect 3–0 Southern Conference campaign in 1933. Laval is the only South Carolina football coach to have produced seven consecutive winning seasons. In 2009, The State newspaper called him "the greatest collegiate coach" in the history of USC.
- Rex Enright era (1938–1942, 1946–1955) - Under coach Rex Enright, the Gamecocks produced another undefeated Southern Conference season, (4–0–1), in 1941. After the 1942 season, Enright joined the U.S. Navy serving as a lieutenant. Enright returned to the Gamecocks in 1946 as head football coach, and remained until 1955 when he resigned for health reasons. Enright retired with the distinction of being the head coach with the most wins and losses in school history (64–69–7). He still retains the record for most school losses and is 2nd in wins.
- Warren Giese era (1956–1960) was hired as head coach in 1956, and he led the Gamecocks to a 28–21–1 overall record in his 5-year tenure.
- Paul Dietzel era (1966–1974) - Dietzel previously coached at Army and at LSU, where he won a national championship. In 1969, he led the Gamecocks to an ACC championship and an appearance in the Peach Bowl. As a result, Dietzel was named ACC Coach of the Year that season. Soon after, South Carolina left the ACC and became an Independent program in 1971.
- Jim Carlen era (1975–1981) - Previously head football coach at Texas Tech and West Virginia, Jim Carlen took over as coach in 1975. Under his leadership the program achieved a measure of national prominence. Carlen led the Gamecocks to three bowl games, coached 1980 Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers, and produced a 45–36–1 record during his seven season tenure.
- Joe Morrison era (1983–1988) - Coach Morrison was hired in 1983. After a 5–6 mark in his first year, the "Man in Black" led South Carolina to a 10–2 record, No. 11 final AP Poll ranking, and a Gator Bowl appearance in 1984. In 1987, the Gamecocks posted an 8–4 record, No. 15 Final AP Poll ranking, and another Gator Bowl trip. Morrison coached his last game in the 1988 Liberty Bowl, He finished his USC tenure with a 39–28–2 overall record, three bowl appearances, and three seasons with 8 or more wins.
- Sparky Woods era (1989–1993) - Hired as head coach in 1989, he coached the Gamecocks until the end of the 1993 season. He posted winning seasons in 1989 and 1990 but, unfortunately, could not produce another winning campaign during his tenure. Woods led the USC football program through the transition to the SEC and has the distinction of being South Carolina's first head coach in the SEC when the Gamecocks entered the conference in 1992. Woods' overall record at South Carolina was 25–27–3.
- Brad Scott era (1994–1998) - He took over as the Gamecocks head coach in December 1993. Despite modest pre-season expectations, he led USC to a 7–5 record and a Carquest Bowl victory over West Virginia in his first season. Unfortunately, USC won only six games during his final two seasons in Columbia. Scott's final record at South Carolina was 23–32–1 in five seasons.
- Lou Holtz era (1999–2004) - This former Notre Dame head coach came out of retirement and became USC's head coach in 1999. He engineered 8–4 and 9–3 records in the 2000 and 2001 seasons. In addition, USC won consecutive Outback Bowls over Ohio State. The 2000 and 2001 campaigns the Gamecocks turned in No. 19 and No. 13 rankings in the Final AP ballots for those years. Holtz ended his USC tenure on a winning note with a 6–5 record in 2004 before retiring again. Holtz finished with a 33–37 overall record at South Carolina.
The Current Era
Former NFL Washington Redskins head coach Steve Spurrier, who achieved fame after a very successful stint as head coach at his alma mater Florida, was hired in 2005 by USC to replace the retiring Lou Holtz. Spurrier led the Gamecocks to a 7–5 record and Independence Bowl appearance in his first season. As a result, Spurrier was named the 2005 SEC Coach of the Year. The 2006 season saw continued success under Spurrier, as the Gamecocks posted an 8–5 record and a victory over Houston in the Liberty Bowl Carolina posted consecutive 7–6 records in 2008 and 2009, with post-season appearances in the Outback Bowl and the PapapJohns Bowl. In 2010, Spurrier scored another first winning the first SEC Eastern Division Championship in school history.
In 2011, Spurrier led USC to its most successful season in program history. The Gamecocks posted an 11–2 overall record, went 6–2 in SEC play and defeated No. 20 Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl to earn a final Top 10 rankings in the AP and Coaches' Polls. In 2012 Steve Spurrier, once again, led his USC football team to double-digit wins during the course of the regular season campaign. The 2012 regular season culminated with the annual season-ending game against arch-rival Clemson. Spurrier has become the winningest coach in Gamecock football history.
[ Williams-Brice Stadium is the home football stadium for the South Carolina Gamecocks. It is currently the 20th largest college football stadium in the NCAA with the capacity to hold crowds of over 80,000 fans. Carolina football teams consistently attract standing-room-only crowds to Williams-Brice Stadium. The stadium is sometimes called "The Cock Pit" by Gamecock fans and local media. On October 6, 2012, the stadium's single-game attendance record was set when 85,199 fans watched the #6 Gamecocks beat #5 Georgia. ]
In 2013, Spurrier and the Gamecocks finished with another extremely successful 11–2 season. The Gamecocks also defeated #6 Clemson for the fifth year in a row, a school record. Spurrier also led the Gamecocks to a Capital One Bowl victory over Wisconsin. Carolina finished with the highest ranking in school history in the AP poll, ranked at #4 in the country. Finally, in 2014, the Gamecocks closed out the regular season with their first loss in six years to their in-state rival, #21 Clemson University. Spurrier and his team finished the 2014 campaign with the program's fourth-straight bowl win, a victory over the Miami Hurricanes in the 2014 Independence Bowl and a 7-6 overall record.
* "The Fighting Gamecocks Lead the Way" is the fight song of the University of South Carolina.