College Football: Spurrier wisecracking his way through SEC Media Days
By John Zenor
HOOVER, Ala. ó Steve Spurrier was back in his old SEC media days form, cracking wise, raving about his teamís offensive playmakers and still managing a folksy dose of poormouthing, too.
He said ěin all likelihoodî, quarterback Stephen Garcia will be back in the fold for preseason camp. After all, Spurrier cracked, ěI guess we donít want to kick him out for stupidity.î
Yep, the head ball coach had his famous dry wit on full display Wednesday, almost like his swaggering Florida days. Heís back on top again, at least in the Southeastern Conferenceís East Division, and thereís no reason to hold back too much.
ěMost coaches if they win a lot, win a lot of championships, they do talk a little bit more,î Spurrier said.
The Gamecocks have plenty to talk about these days after making the SEC championship game for the first time and knocking off both Clemson and then-No. 1 Alabama.
One hot topic: Garcia. He was suspended for the fifth time in April, this one for his behavior in a life skills seminar.
Spurrier said the senior quarterback has done everything required of him so far to rejoin the team and has made some ělifestyle changes.î But will he start? Thatís open for discussion.
Spurrier said the SECís most experienced quarterback will still have to beat out sophomore Connor Shaw, who was solid in nine relief appearances last season.
ěWeíre going to have competition,î Spurrier said. ěI guess everyone assumes Stephen is going to be the quarterback if heís there. But weíll see.î
Thereís little doubt who the emerging quarterbackís biggest weapons will be. Powerful running back Marcus Lattimore emerged as one of the leagueís most unstoppable forces and Alshon Jeffery was one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award as the nationís top receiver.
Spurrierís 2 cents: Theyíre the nationís best at their position, and itís not an outlandish opinion. As for the rest of the team, he said it might be the best collection of talent heís had in his seven seasons with the Gamecocks. Plus, heís got the nationís No. 1 recruit in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Spurrier says Clowney will be on the field ěearly and oftenî as a freshman.
But Spurrier also points out that South Carolina took advantage of down years for East rivals Georgia, Florida and Tennessee and repeating as division champs wonít be easy.
ěI think so far the guys are pretty levelheaded,î Spurrier said. ěBut the fans, because weíve not had a lot of success there, theyíre going to tell the guys how great they are. Hopefully weíll be smart enough to handle it and go from there.
ěBut historically weíve not, so it will be a challenge to see if we can handle some preseason predictions, ëcause weíve never had much of those before in the past.î
Lattimore thinks the Gamecocks have the makings of a contender.
ěWeíve got the talent to do it on offense, defense and special teams,î he said. ěWeíve just got to finish. Weíve got a good shot to win it, I think.î
And theyíve got a veteran quarterback who has started 30 games. Or a younger guy who has shown flashes both as a runner and a passer..
Jeffery is OK with either of them.
ěMy level of confidence with Connor is 100 percent,î he said. ěIím behind each of our quarterbacks 100 percent, no matter what.î
HOOVER, Ala. ó SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said recent headlines across the country have laid bare the darker side of major college sports so much that they have “lost the benefit of the doubt.”
With that in mind, Slive opened SEC media days Wednesday by outlining some proposals for change across the NCAA in everything from raising academic requirements for incoming freshmen to paying athletes the full cost of scholarships.
“We don’t have the luxury of acting as if it’s business as usual,” Slive said, noting that he normally would have used that platform to tout recent successes like national titles in football and baseball.
He said the negative perception of big-money college sports resulting from infractions cases from Ohio State to several of his own member schools “casts a shadow over the extraordinary student-athletes throughout the country” and merits change.
It has certainly cast a shadow for years in a league that has captured the last five national football titles, and some more dubious attention.
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