College Football Preview: South Carolina-Alabama

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 16, 2009

Associated Press
TUSCALOOSA ó They are national championship coaches, innovators on each side of the ball who’ve excelled in perhaps the country’s most difficult conference.
In 12 seasons with Florida, Steve Spurrier dominated the SEC with a wide-open passing game. His Fun-n-Gun was like nothing SEC defenses had ever dealt with before.
As LSU’s coach from 2000-2004, Nick Saban’s defenses locked down opponents with unrelenting pressure.
Both left the SEC for the NFL, only to return having realized college football was more their speed.
Now in their second SEC jobs, South Carolina’s Spurrier and Alabama’s Saban face each other for third time in their brilliant careers when the second-ranked Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0) take on the No. 22 Gamecocks (5-1, 2-1) tonight.
The first two meetings of two of the most astute minds in college football resulted in Spurrier-style blowouts, with Florida beating LSU 41-9 in 2000 and 44-15 in 2001.
As different publicly as the two appear ó Spurrier with his wisecracking bite compared with Saban’s stoic, plainspoken edge ó they share a friendship and respect. So much so that Spurrier once hitched a ride with Saban on the LSU plane after coaching together in the East-West Shrine Game nine years ago.
“How about that?” Spurrier said with a chuckle this week.