D.J. Swearinger on Steve Spurrier's resignation: 'He had to be frustrated'

TAMPA, Fla. -- Like many who have ties to Steve Spurrier, Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety D.J. Swearinger was surprised to learn about the veteran coach's resignation.

Swearinger, who started 33 games for Spurrier at South Carolina, understood that the Gamecocks' 2-4 record and 0-4 start in the SEC this season had to weigh on his former coach. Still, Swearinger thought Spurrier had a little more time left on the sideline.

"I was sort of surprised by it, especially with him saying he's not going to retire [before the season]," Swearinger said Wednesday. "He always said when he doesn't love it anymore, he's going to stop. So I don't want to say it was because of the losing, with the bad season -- [but] that never has happened with Coach Spurrier, with him losing all these SEC games. So he had to be frustrated, and he did what he had to do."

Spurrier enjoyed better years when Swearinger was at South Carolina. In 2010, the Gamecocks finished 9-5 and won the SEC East for the first time in program history. Then they went 11-2 in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. The Houston Texans drafted Swearinger in the second round in 2013.

This fall, Swearinger noticed South Carolina's decline. He said change could be good.

"Yeah, I think so, in a way," Swearinger said. "We get a new coach in to get some new recruits instead of the guys Coach Spurrier would bring in. Maybe we'll get some different guys, get some better talent.

"We definitely had some talent when we were coming up, a lot [of former teammates are] in the NFL from the four teams I was on. But just getting some new talent and getting a new face in there would probably be better for the program."

That doesn't mean Spurrier's influence has been lost on Swearinger.

"Coach Spurrier came and changed the culture," Swearinger said. "My class, I was one of the winningest Carolina players there. ... He did a lot for me. I wouldn't be here today, in the NFL. I got drafted second round. So obviously, Coach Spurrier had some good words for me. He taught me a lot while I was there at Carolina. He got us ready for the NFL at Carolina.

"Coach Spurrier always shot it to you straightforward and made you want to compete."