Always keeping a close eye on his former players, coach Jerry Moore was planning to give Shawn Elliott a call Monday night, offering encouragement after South Carolina’s tough season continued with a 45-24 loss at LSU on Saturday.
He likely wouldn’t have had much time to talk as Elliott, a former Appalachian State football player and coach, was named the interim head coach following Steve Spurrier’s resignation Tuesday morning.
Elliott, a 1996 graduate of Appalachian State, played defensive end for Moore from 1992–1995 before joining the coaching staff in 1997. Elliott eventually became the Mountaineers’ offensive line coach in 2001, helping Appalachian State to three national Division 1-AA titles before he moved on to South Carolina in 2010.
“I knew their loss last week was a tough loss, and I was going to call him last night to just tell him to stay the course,” Moore said. “When everything is going good, it’s easy to be out front in the parade. Right now, Shawn is the prefect guy to fit their needs down there.
“[He] worked his tail off; he’s a guy that was an incredible leader — a tough, hard player.”
The Gamecocks (2-4) have fallen on tough times in the past two seasons after three-straight 11-win campaigns.
In announcing his retirement, Spurrier cited the level of energy Elliott will bring to the job for the rest of the season to help turn the program back in the right direction.
Moore said that it was no snap decision for Spurrier to step down now, giving Elliott an audition for the job.
“Steve didn’t do this haphazardly,” Moore said. “He’s a terrific football coach and puts a lot of thoughts and things into every decision he makes. “
Coach Scott Satterfield said Elliott, who he played with and coached alongside for 11 seasons in Boone, was a close friend and has exchanged text messages with him through the whirlwind of two-a-days.
“I’m happy for him,” Satterfield said. “It’s an excellent opportunity for him; he’s an excellent football coach.”
Given the challenge Elliott faces, Satterfield said his personality makes him an ideal fit for the job.
“He’s got tons of passion and energy, as a player he did and as a coach,” Satterfield said.
“He’s going to be who he is, and that’s it. Players respond to that, and he’s always got the most out of his players. Hopefully, they’ll respond to that at South Carolina.”
During his introduction, Elliott pointed out Moore — along with Spurrier — as a major influence.
“They taught me how to win, how to treat people … I’ve had an opportunity to work for Jerry Moore and now Steve Spurrier, both of these guys, Hall of Fame guys,” Elliott said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to know that you can gather knowledge from two of the best in the business. Certainly they’ve had a huge influence on my background and my coaching attributes. Without a doubt, they’ve molded my career.”
Moore disputed one of those points, saying that was mostly Elliott’s own doing.
“I don’t know that I taught him to win; he made himself into a guy that wanted to win,” Moore said. “He would take an average football player and get the most out of him. You couldn’t be around him without wanting to make him proud of you.”
In particular, he remembered watching players struggle through 6 a.m. winter workouts, only to find another level when they worked with Elliott.
“He was one of those guys that when people got to his station, they gave them their very best,” Moore said. “That’s a tribute to him and how hard he worked here as a player and how hard he worked here as a coach.”
The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more Appalachian State coverage go to http://www.journalnow.com/sports/asu/