The weirdness of Tuesday’s events in Columbia is finally starting to dissipate. Steve Spurrier’s rant against a sportswriter over a column written months earlier. Stephen Garcia’s final dismissal from the South Carolina football team.
As Gene Sapakoff of The Charleston Post & Courier summed the day up:
“Hard to say if it was the most bizarre day in University of South Carolina football history. I’ve only been around the program for a quarter-century.”
In Sapakoff’s view, “Spurrier might be losing his marbles.” Like so many, he believes the Ol’ Ball Coach was simply throwing Ron Morris of The State under the bus in an effort to create a diversion for Garcia. Many Carolina fans believe this, too, and they don’t seem to care that Morris was the one tossed under the bus because many of them never liked him in the first place.
For his part, Spurrier said during yesterday’s SEC teleconference that he “was not (deflecting attention) and did not like doing that.” He added, “I said what I needed to say yesterday and am not getting into that discussion anymore, and hopefully, the discussion is over.”
Uh, yeah. That’s how it works, sure.
Maybe Spurrier should call Mike Gundy and ask him how long it took for his YouTube rant to finally blow over. Heck, even Alabama’s Nick Saban joked with reporters yesterday that he wasn’t “gonna pull a Steve Spurrier on you.”
At MrSEC.com, we don’t buy the sleight of hand theory because the 66-year-old Spurrier has been around long enough to know that the Garcia story was going to have legs whether he created a distraction or not. By pacing back and forth in front of all those television cameras on Tuesday, all Spurrier did was create a second controversy. (And don’t forget, the NCAA also just sent a notice of allegations to Carolina which could be considered a third controversy.)
Naturally, the press has reacted negatively to Spurrier’s tactics. USC president Harris Pastides has been sent a letter by the South Carolina Press Association expressing “strong disappointment” in Spurrier’s actions.
And Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer says the coach’s suggestion that he doesn’t mind being criticized as long as the story isn’t made up is complete bunk. “He’s called me twice to complain about columns I’ve written, once when he was at Duke and once last season,” Sorensen writes today. “He cares desperately how he’s perceived.”
In our view — and it’s the view we shared on Tuesday — Spurrier was feeling a bit froggy following a 50+ point, 600+ yard performance from his offense complete with a Spurrierific aerial attack.
After Saturday’s game he talked about Kentucky’s punter when asked about their offense. He suggested that Carolina should have scored 70 or 80 points. Have we all not seen this act before?
When Spurrier wins and wins big, he talks. He’s the baddest man in the room. Sick and tired of comments from Morris — who’d basically written a “yeah, but it was just Kentucky” piece following last Saturday’s game — the Ol’ Ball Coach proceeded to act like the cock of the walk and lit into Morris for all the world to see.
Maybe Morris’ gibes, the NCAA’s recent accusations, and Garcia’s final stumble all combined to pushed the coach over the edge, but at MrSEC.com we fully believe his history of talking louder and walking prouder after wins shows Tuesday’s blowup had more to do with hubris than it did cover-ups and six-month-old newspaper stories.
For those who’ll claim that we hate Spurrier… we don’t. He’s a helluva coach and darn entertaining when he wants to be. Last summer, we wrote that we hoped he and Carolina would win the East — which they did — because it would be good for the league to have USC and Spurrier grab some spotlight.
But Spurrier can also be quite a jerk at times. Ask anyone who’s ever been the butt of his postgame jokes or who’s played golf with him, for that matter. And for the record, any person who tries to deny that the coach has a tendency to act punkish is the one with objectivity issues.
Meanwhile, Morris was back in The State today with a column regarding Garcia’s final failure in Columbia. Spurrier isn’t mentioned until 3/4s of the way through the piece:
“You can point the finger at Spurrier for the manner in which he publicly criticized Garcia time and again. It is a tactic that worked well for Spurrier in his dealings with quarterbacks at Florida but never was effective with Garcia. Spurrier’s occasional barbs at Garcia exasperated an already exasperating situation.”
As for those who claim Garcia would never have been dismissed had Shaw not had a breakout performance against Kentucky, we’re not buying that one, either.
Spurrier is a wise enough coach to know that Shaw could sprain an ankle in practice today and then where would his Gamecocks be?
We believe what’s more interesting is the fact that someone chose to administer Garcia’s random drug test on the very week that he was demoted from his starting job and lost his grandfather. That’s pretty coincidental, isn’t it? It’s as if someone wanted to see if he was handling the demotion properly.
Interestingly, the press release regarding Garcia’s dismissal had a lengthy quote from AD Eric Hyman above a shorter quote from Spurrier. Players are dismissed from teams all the time. On how many occasions have you seen the AD take the lead role over the coach in the announcement?