South Carolina is starting to become a national force.

How else would you explain Alabama's Nick Saban coming after one of the Gamecocks' rising assistant coaches?

There are reports floating around that Alabama head coach Nick Saban has his eye on South Carolina's Shawn Elliott to fill his vacant offensive line position. Saban's previous employee, Jeff Stoutland, left Alabama last week for the NFL to join Chip Kelly as part of the Philadelphia Eagles. Stoutland spent the last two years on Alabama's staff and had a salary of $395,000 dollars.

The Gamecocks have previously seen Elliott's name linked to a variety of openings the last few years including the head coaching positions at Coastal Carolina and his alma mater, Appalachian State University. However, a recent report from Phil Kornblut on SportsTalk indicates that Elliott turned down a recent offer to interview for the offensive line coaching position with the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers.

It's great when one of your star assistant coaches has a name that is brought up with the likes of Alabama and the Pittsburgh Steelers, but all of this interest is something that could hinder recruiting and certainly give Elliott something to think about.

The fact that he withdrew himself from consideration as the next head coach at Appalachian State should certainly ease the mind of Gamecock fans. If he doesn't want to take the next step in his coaching career at a place that is near and dear to his heart, then he certainly intends on staying at South Carolina for the foreseeable future.

But let's look at this in another way...this is Alabama.

The Crimson Tide have money that's unrivaled across the country. They are an annual national title contender under Nick Saban and plenty of coaches under Saban have seen their stock rise and move on to bigger and better positions. Alabama would likely offer an increase in salary as well as the opportunity to coach one of the best offensive lines over the next few years to put Elliott on an even greater path to a major Division I-A head coaching job.

If Alabama doesn't offer an "upgrade" in title for Shawn Elliott, will Steve Spurrier begin to make the move for his replacement? We've heard the Head Ball Coach mention before that he doesn't mind his coaching staff talking to other places about a potential promotion. He does mind, though, when coaches look at lateral moves with other schools. I think this is why you didn't see Steve Spurrier make a big deal out of the movement of Brad Lawing to Florida. His replacement was hired within days and the Gamecocks look like they could end up better off in the end.

So what happens? Personally, I think we'll see Shawn Elliott say "thanks, but no thanks" and remain at South Carolina for the foreseeable future. Alabama certainly has a lot to offer and it would make perfect sense for Elliott if he made the move. Think Charlie Strong on how he left USC for Florida. It boosted his profile and he's now a star head coach at Louisville. Elliott could certainly follow the same path.

But, South Carolina could be looking for a head coach in four years or so. Elliott will have been on staff for several of those years and has made plenty of in-roads in recruiting the last few years. Check out his haul for 2013 and his work in the class of 2014 already. He's a rising star and his name will likely be thrown around once Steve Spurrier decides to retire. This is a great chance for Elliott to learn under one of the SEC's greatest coaches of all-time and position himself to take over the Gamecocks football program at potentially its highest peak.

Alabama has the name and national brand. They could likely kick-start Elliott into a great position within a few years.

But, something tells me that loyalty will win out here and Elliott will stay with the Gamecocks. If he goes to Alabama, he'll be repeating history that's already happen. Sticking with the Gamecocks gives him a chance to do some things that have never been done and could give him a chance at taking over for a coaching legend.

When you lay it all on the line, it looks like South Carolina is a better opportunity than Alabama.

Crazy to think about, right?

 

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