In typical Steve Spurrier fashion, the South Carolina football coach’s appearance Tuesday at SEC Media Days was appointment viewing.
He opened, as he usually does, with a joke.
“A lot of familiar faces out there after a lot of years coming to this event,” Spurrier said. “I figured a bunch of you guys would have retired by now.”
Spurrier said last season was a disappointing one for the Gamecocks, who struggled during the middle portion of the season and wound up 7-6 overall in 2014.
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Optimism runs high that South Carolina will rebound and contend for the SEC East division title this fall.
“We got rejuvenated,” Spurrier said. “We got new life. We were 7-6, same as Tennessee and the same as Arkansas, and I think they’re sort of celebrating big seasons last year. So, we were celebrating also. We were doing some cartwheels and high-fiving after that Independence Bowl game (against Miami) because it was a year that could have gone real south, and guys hung in there and somehow or another found a way to win the game.”
Here are other highlights from Spurrier’s half-hour with the media:
On the Gamecocks’ quarterback battle with Connor Mitch, Perry Orth, Michael Scarnecchia and freshman Lorenzo Nunez:
“I know you can’t get four ready to play, but we’ll have maybe some plays for Lorenzo Nunez and the other guys. I’ve been a coach to play two quarterbacks. I think you all know that, and you can win with two. There’s nothing in the rule book that says you have to have one.”
On handling elite recruits with excessive hype:
“You handle them a little differently. As (legendary UCLA basketball) coach John Wooden used to say, he treats everybody the way they deserve to be treated. Every now and then, I’ll tell the player, are we going to have to put you on the (Jadeveon) Clowney program?”
On if he’s considering retirement and how he keeps his sanity after so many seasons as a football coach:
“Same way you sports writers do it, I think. Yeah, I really think the program I own helps to hang around a long time. Somebody said, why are you still coaching? I said, well, I forgot to get fired, and I’m not going to cheat. That’s about the way you lose your job.”
On if he’s considered an exit strategy:
“I breezed right through age 60, breezed right through 65, and I’m going to try my best to breeze right on through 70. I can still remember just about everything. So mentally, I think I’m the same as I was. We got two people running for president, I think Hillary (Clinton) and Donald Trump are both 69, I believe. Coach (Mike Krzyzewski) at Duke, he’s still doing pretty good at, I think 69 also. So the age really doesn’t mean a lot. The number on your years is not what’s important. It’s whether you can function physically, emotionally, mentally, get your team ready to play. That’s what’s important. We’ve got some goals there that we’ve not hit yet. That retirement thing, I don’t think I’d be very good at it.”
[Editor’s note: Clinton is actually 67 and Krzyzewski is 68.]
Not everything was a laughing matter for Spurrier, who also addressed the recent political controversy in South Carolina.
On the Charleston church shootings and ensuing controversy about the Confederate flag:
“It was a tragedy, obviously, nine innocent people to be killed like that. I applaud our governor (Nikki Haley) for setting the initiative to remove the flag, and obviously it was received very well by just about everyone in our state and around the country. Obviously, all of us in college sports, we know the importance of equality, race relations, everybody getting along. So certainly, I think all the coaches all over — I know all over South Carolina was happy and glad to see the flag come down.”