Thursday, November 08, 2007

Blog Swap, South Carolina Week

This season we're exchanging posts with blogs that represent each of our major opponents. For South Carolina we are doing the swap with Garnet and Black Attack, The opinions expressed below are those of cocknfire. Our thoughts are posted on his site. This post will remain at the top of the blog throughout the day Thursday. Look for newer posts immediately below.


It’s amazing how having Steve Spurrier on the sideline can change your view of him.

I remember despising the guy. I remember half-jokingly wondering if he was just toying with us when word leaked out that he was considering the South Carolina job, as his teams would sometimes allow South Carolina to hang around for a quarter or two before devouring the Gamecocks.

He was a brat, the Mouth of the South, the Evil Genius, everything that was said about him and more. When the Gators slaughtered the 2001 Gamecocks by a 54-17 margin at home in what was still destined to be one of the greatest seasons in South Carolina, Spurrier called for the reporters in his briefing to calm down. After all, he told them, Florida had just beat the Gamecocks. It wasn’t like they had defeated some big, powerful team.

That rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. South Carolina was 7-2 when they faced Florida, and the winning coach was bad-mouthing the Gamecocks? Lou Holtz, for his part, actually looked traumatized when they brought him out for his post-game media briefing. Sort of like you might look it someone blew up your house in front of you.

Then, Spurrier came to South Carolina after the Holtz experiment had obviously run its course. He worked to restore discipline to a program that had none. We learned about phrases like “calling ball-plays.” We saw that Spurrier wasn’t just arrogant (though he said he had been chastened by the NFL experience). Spurrier just called them like he saw them.

And he would bash a program too much until he beat them with the Gamecocks. (Though he did take a swipe at Tennessee when someone asked about a fight involving a player: “This was not a full-blown fight. If you want to read about some full-blown fights, read about the Tennessee players, not our guys.”)

Then, after South Carolina beat Clemson last year, Tommy Bowden made the mistake of joking about how Spurrier had gotten a contract extension after a 7-5 regular season, while seven wins would get a coach fired at Clemson. Spurrier shot back that if Bowden thought he was one of the better coaches in the nation, he should ask the Clemson administration for a raise. He followed it up after Clemson lost its bowl game to Kentucky with this gem: “It seems like Clemson’s guys have had some negatives, haven’t they? Their bowl game wasn’t a lot of fun. They’re losing guys to FSU, losing them to academics. They’re losing them all over the place, aren’t they?”

Yes, Spurrier’s probably an SOB. But he’s our SOB for now. And, yes, he’ll probably go down in history as the guy who established Florida as one of the pre-eminent programs in the SEC and the nation, with anything he does at South Carolina (like his career at Duke) just a further example of how good he was.

But thanks for letting us have him for a while.


Trader Rick said...

You're welcome to him!

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Ryan Ferguson said...

Yeah... I'm with Rick. You can have him.

Mergz posted a great counterpoint over at Garnet and Black Attack.

Spurrier's on loan to South Carolina... in his heart he always was, and always will be, a Gator.

But he'd sure like nothing better than to beat us Saturday night.

Let's save all the "I love Spurrier" crap for after he retires, okay?

Henry Gomez said...

I can't disagree more with GatorPilot about Spurrier. It should have as no surprise to anyone, especially our athletic director, that Spurrier would make the leap to the league. His name had been bantied about for years. It was a matter of time. Yes the timing was horrible, but in the end we're talking about 2 weeks. I think Foley would have hired Zook anyway. His other two choices were not reasonable. He like Zook's bullzook and Stoops and Shanahan rejecting the Florida job gave Foley the cover he needed to hire moRon. And it was purely Foley's decision to extend Zook after two year's.

A good athletic director has a contingency plan.

Spurrier gave the best 12 years of his career to the Gators. I know what it's like to sit in the stands hoping some day your team will be great, and I know what it's like to see it actually happen.

I am not saying Foley should have hired him. I don't even blame him for being a dick to him. I wanted Urban Meyer from the moment Foley fired Zook. But to say nobody knew Spurrier would leave is revisionist history. It was Foley's job to know.