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Spurrier “Disassociates” Columbia SportsWriter

Why now?

That seems to be the main question following a bizarre press briefing in Columbia, South Carolina today.  Rather than taking his normal seat behind the microphone for his weekly meeting with the local media, Steve Spurrier paced back and forth in front of reporters and said he was going to disassociate himself from The State’s lead sports columnist, Ron Morris.

“In 26 years as a head coach I’ve had two guys that didn’t write the truth that I had to disassociate with,” Spurrier said.

He said that he would refuse to take questions as long as Morris was in the press room.  When Morris stayed put, Spurrier left to do television interviews.  When he returned and found Morris still in attendance, Spurrier wrapped the media session before it started and several beatwriters were ushered to his office instead.

Speaking moments ago with Jay Phillips of WNKT-FM in Columbia, it was made clear to me that Spurrier’s timing caught everyone off guard.

First, a little history:

* All hometown columnists — rightly or wrongly — are lumped into one of two categories: homer or hater.  Morris is viewed by many Gamecock fans as belonging to the latter category.

* When Bruce Ellington joined the Carolina football team this spring, Morris wrote that his sources told him that Spurrier had poached the player from Darrin Horn’s basketball team.

* Spurrier has denied those charges as have Horn and Ellington.  Today, Spurrier called the Ellington column from this spring “completely fabricated.”

* Following Carolina’s upset loss to Auburn, Morris wrote that Spurrier made “poor decisions” that cost his team.

* On Sunday, his column was titled: “Offense better, but it was against Kentucky.”

The coach said today: “The criticism he shows me is fine, I don’t mind that.  I’m just not okay with stories that aren’t true.”  Uh, fine, but the story Spurrier claims is untrue was written in the spring.  (Morris — for his part — has stood behind the column, though he’s been asked by The State not to comment on Spurrier’s actions today.)

So why bring this back up?

Perhaps because Spurrier has and always will act like a bully.  When he’s winning, he’s more likely to throw barbs at others (ask Kentucky fans).  And when he’s losing, he pouts, goes quiet and often acts melancholy.

So is it possible Spurrier dug up an old column that’s still under his skin because he’s feeling 10-feet-tall and bulletproof thanks to a 54-3 whooping of a lesser foe on Saturday?  And because the same writer continues to fire barbs at him and his offense?  If you’ve followed Spurrier’s career, then you know that answer is yes.  It’s very possible.

Why else bring this back up now?  For those who feel that Spurrier was creating a distraction to focus talk away from Stephen Garcia’s dismissal — which was announced later — we’re not buying.

The Garcia situation is a guaranteed hot topic and no amount of smokescreens can keep that story off the front page.  (Click here for proof.)  By going after Morris, Spurrier simply created a second controversy for himself.

Below is the video of the coach’s comments:

What a silly way to handle this.  Six months after the fact.

 


30 comments
RobertG
RobertG

I like the way Steve Spurrier handled the dishonest journalist. My best friend is a Gator and I respect Spurrier from his days there. If I lived in SC, I would not subscribe to his paper. I am a Texas Aggie and am excited to be in the SEC now.

just the facts
just the facts

As usual, journalists overestimate their importance in the world and can't stand it when someone calls them on it. People who aren't journalists don't have access to a large public forum to make things up about people that they disagree with and then pass their brainfarts off as "news" for public consumption. Spurrier just used a press conference to get his point across because he's someone who will not live and let live. To outsiders, his behavior at the press conference may have an effect similar to watching someone chastise a member of their own family in public-uncomfortable silence. What's unprofessional is to not realize that as a member of the media, what you write in your public forum will have consequences and then try vilify someone who disagrees with you using the only means available to them. Nitwit journalists like Pennington, Morris, Bradley and Guest should stick to reporting facts and tread carefully when writing something that is potentially damaging to the reputation of someone who has no means to defend themselves. Professionalism as a journalist means sticking to the facts. Your "insights" based on unsubstantiated sources are not brilliant or even entertaining. That's why people pay to watch football and not to read your drivel.

Tracer Round
Tracer Round

"What a silly way to handle this. Six months after the fact."

Seems like the fact that this article was REPOSTED on Oct 5th, 'six months after the fact' was a rather glaring omission to this story and to the subsequent editorialization.

Gamecock in ATL
Gamecock in ATL

John,

I agree that this is childish behavior - everyone knows that Ron Morris is a "hater" who never has anything good to say about Spurrier, so why stoop to his level? Spurrier should have just ignored Morris, IMO.

That said, why does everyone (including myself here) find this to be out of line, but when journalists (Morris) rip on the coach, it is not childish? Read some of Ron's articles ... he has really ripped Spurrier time and time again. While I don't think Spurrier has been magic in Columbia, Gamecock fans are delusional if they think he is a bad coach at USC. Does anyone remember the 20 years BEFORE Spurrier came? We would have dreamed of just making it to Atlanta. Or dreamed of just beating UF one time. Just goes to show how all fans of all programs have never satisfying expectations.

Also, I don't think the timing has anything to do with the blowout win over UK. I think it was the 2 articles that Morris wrote after the Auburn and Kentucky games, where he basically called Spurrier a moron. Those got to him, and the timing was coincidental with the UK win.

Just my opinion.

oksana
oksana

If it is a credibility contest between Ron Morris and Steve Spurrier, I'll take Spurrier every time. Although Spurrier is an ego-maniacial, often petty, person and coach - - =- he is also honest to a fault. Never cheated or even investigated by the NCAA. If Steve Spurrier says Ron Morris is a liar - -I believe it. Therefore, in my opinion, he had every right to call the guy out.

CB - S'ville
CB - S'ville

All Gamecock fans are with Spurrier - Ron Morris is a jerk.

AtlJS
AtlJS

MrSEC -

Looks like someone's just a little butt-hurt on the topic of Steve Spurrier! Yes, it is OF COURSE a classic Spurrier smokescreen.......you'd do well to look up the timing of past/previous "controversial" "outbursts".......you'll find that each time coincided with another issue or big game week.

What i'd like to know is which team you root for. You've never said, but it couldn't be clearer with your comments that Spurrier, most likely while at UF, delivered at least a handful of painful, scoreboard-lighting buttwhippings to that team. You're gonna need to point me in the right direction though, because that description applies to about 11 teams....

Love the site, and also love your opining the other 99% of the time when you aren't overridden by your personal feelings, but this was too trasparent.

-js

Fred
Fred

Ron Morris is the ONLY reason I do not subscribe to the State's paid site. His articles about the Gamecocks are beyond criticisms. They are all malicious made up stories on the South Carolina Athletic program.

Mike
Mike

I find all of this hilarious. Spurrier adds some zest compared to the many drone coaches that we have in the SEC. I especially find it delightful that he has taken the (mostly self-righteous) media to task. Good for Steve!

Hal Barnes
Hal Barnes

Ron Morris is a little man who even bashed Ray Tanner (winner of back to back national championships in baseball). Media people who do not write the truth should be publicly thrashed. Gamecock fans have even gotten advertisers to pull ads from The State as a result of Morris' repeated negative attacks on the university.

MJWilliamson
MJWilliamson

Spurrier has often had test relationship with the media. In fact, that is not something new for any successful coach. Many have this attribute. Whether one thinks Spurrier went over the top is a matter of opinion.

BTW when Spurrier was the Head Ball Coach at Florida, the reporter he banned was Larry Guest of the Orlando Sentinel. There were a lot of writers critical of Spurrier and Florida when he was the Gator coach, but Larry stood out by being just malicious. Spurrier claimed and even offered proof of outright fabrications in Larry's writing.

Fayettechill14
Fayettechill14

Steve Spurrier is way to highly criticized to deal with this crap. He has Carolina back in the top15 (who would've thought!) again. No one wants to read criticism, and you're attacking the quality of job a great coach is doing. Sure you have the right to do so, but he also has the right to not speak to you. I'm with Spurrier on this one...I think the Ellington story was what put Spurrier on guard with this guy.

Bob the Dog
Bob the Dog

Ron Morris and John Pennington are the bullies here. Go Steve!

Rowdireptile
Rowdireptile

If you search ron morris and click on the link to the newspaper the second story is a repost of what made spurrier so mad. It says originally written March 25th but the repost was on OCT. 5th... maybe that coupled with the poor mouthing after the Kentucky game was the last straw... (reading the kentucky article now...) (now a few others...) Ok... Did this guy win six SEC Championships and a BCS title? No? Then why does he write like he knows fifty times more than Spurrier. I'm a Gator fan and this is insulting to read from a nobody beat writer about any coach. I would love to have the roster South Carolina has... again, I'M A FLORIDA FAN JEALOUS OF THE PLAYERS SC HAS.... Ponder that for a while. What Spurrier has done at SC is beyond belief. One of the biggest losers of state schools in D-1 and he's now made them the SEC East favorite... from here till who knows... I applaud what he did. The writer seems to have a mancrush on all things Clemson... When was the last time they did... ya know.. anything?

edalee
edalee

I agree with Spurrier!! This guy writes maliciously against the team and the coaches, nothing is ever good enough at Carolina but let somebody wipe their rear ends correctly in the upstate and it's front page news and they are simply brilliant!! I quit reading this buttwipe's articles about anything Carolina a LOOOOOOOONNNG time ago and so did most of the Gamecock fans in this state. I love what the Ol' Ball Coach did to Morris, I've watched it 5 times and it just keeps getting better! Good riddance!!!!

Jeff
Jeff

Did Anderson Cooper write this post? John, are you outsourcing to Anderson?

ocelot
ocelot

....and Garcia just got dismissed from the team.

omahahog
omahahog

Why don't we send Ellington to Lincoln, Ne and let him cover the Huskers. Pelini wouldn't exclude him from the meeting, he'd probably launch over the table and choke him for some good youtube.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

AtlJS...

What are my personal feelings? The fact that I've got an autographed Spurrier photo hanging in my house? Or a bottle of his Cock N' Fire wine?

I think Spurrier's a good coach, entertaining... and at times he acts like a child. That's called being objective. Those who hate him, aren't. Those who love him aren't. I just cover him. When he does something well, I say so. When I feel he's overstepped his bounds, I say that.

Take it, leave it, it's just my opinion. But to suggest anyone who critiques the guy has "personal feelings" against him, well, that's kind of juvenile in its own right.

As for who I pull for... try the underdog. 90% of the time, I pull for the underdog or the best story. Last year I wrote that I was hoping for a South Carolina/Ole Miss SEC Championship Game. Right now I'd like to see LSU/Alabama face off while still undefeated.

You can say a lot of things about me, but claiming I'm for or against a team or coach is pretty far off base.

John

Brad
Brad

I'm sorry, when exactly did Spurrier win a BCS title? And why is it a crime to criticize the coach, when just about EVERY fan of any team does the same thing? It's called freedom of the press and the guy was doing his job, to write thought provoking, sometimes controversial articles. He's not a reporter, he's a columnist. That's what he does. If Spurrier wants everything to be all roses and sunshine, then he needs to become a political leader in Iran. At least there he could control all ideas.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Jeff...

I don't know what that means.

John

JWtts
JWtts

One of 2 things happened. 1) Spurrier saw this as an opportunity to get rid of Morris while everyone was focused on the Garcia Story - so this would get less attention. I don't think this is likely. 2) The more likely scenario (bc Spurrier is an emotions on his sleeves kind of guy) is that he's had a bad week and kicking Garcia off of the team was very hard for him. You don't spend 5 years with a quarterback (Spurrier being a QB coach) and not be completely torn up at seeing how your pupil has completely thrown away his opportunities. I think this Morris thing has been sitting on his chest for a while and with the craziness of the past week, he spiraled and decided to purge the garbage (Ron Morris). If he had to get rid of Garcia, why not purge someone who he truely didn't care for. F!?% it!

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

Spurrier won a national title at Florida in 1996. I don't know if it was technically a BCS title, but they were the consensus national champions by any account.

Russ
Russ

The first amendment right says that you can write whatever you want sure, but it doesn't say you have the right to sit in on a press conference. So sure, Morris can go right whatever he wants still.

Brad
Brad

*Writer, not reporter. My mistake.

Brad
Brad

I'm a tool for standing up for believing in the reporter's First Amendment rights and pointing out that the man has flaws as a coach that aren't immune to criticism? If so, then yep, I'm proud to be a tool.

AtlJS
AtlJS

MAN you're a tool.

Brad
Brad

I know that he won the title in 1996. My point was it was not in the BCS era. And let's not forget that he needed an all-timer of a break from the pollsters and bowl committees to get a rematch with FSU.

My point with Spurrier is that just b/c he's SEC titles and one somewhat controversial national title doesn't mean that he's immune to criticism. He hasn't accomplished anything yet at South Carolina (no, winning a weak East last year isn't good enough for his pedigree) and he has never, repeat never, gone undefeated in a season as a head coach anywhere. So I guess I don't understand what makes him so untouchable to people.

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