Steve Spurrier is the next man up in the print room and — as with all the coaches over the next three days — we’ll bring you a live blog of his comments, complete with our own opinions. Remember to hit refresh on occasion.
* Spurrier opened by pointing out that this is his 20th SEC Media Days… though he also said some of the media guys have been there 35 or 40 years because media guys “don’t get fired.”
* After bragging about how far Carolina’s program has come, the coach said they could still fall on their faces if they don’t prepare in the right way for the season.
* Spurrier says he thinks he’s assembled a better team — from players to assistants to strength coaches — than in previous years.
* Spurrier said Carolina might be a 45-run/18-pass kind of team again this year if they can’t throw the ball better. He said quarterback Connor Shaw and his whole offense is a little different than what he’s worked with in the past.
* Spurrier says Shaw is maybe a little bit better runner than passer but he hopes he’ll improve as a passer.
* The coach says going into Year Eight in Columbia, he’s now able to start redshirting guys thanks to improved recruiting and depth. “We redshirt at least half of ‘em now.”
* Spurrier pointed out that he thinks his football team led the SEC in GPA the past year.
* He says he initially planned on being at USC for eight to 10 years. Now he’s talking about staying longer. “It’s not a stressful job I have… We have excellent assistant coaches.” He also says he feels better after knee-replacement surgery.
* Spurrier — as expected — is very upbeat, very positive and very talkative. When he’s winning, he’s a talker and a joker. When he’s losing, he’s bland and Chizikian in his demeanor.
* The coach says he would not be surprised to see Missouri and Texas A&M compete for division titles in Year One.
* In response to a question about how Arkansas has been tough for Carolina, Spurrier said: “You think I make the schedule? If I made the schedule Georgia’d be playing LSU and we’d be playing Ole Miss. We don’t make the schedule. Naw, we’re not complaining about that other part I mentioned there.” Uh, actually, he just did.
* Spurrier points out that Arkansas and Auburn have had the Cocks’ number.
* Wow. “We will not recruit Texas… we’re not going into Texas to try and compete with Oklahoma and Texas and all those guys.” There are a bunch of East Division coaches who’d love to be able to trade cross-divisional rivals with Spurrier if he’s not interested in recruiting Texas. It’ll be interesting to see if he sticks to that philosophy in the future.
* Spurrier says Carolina was favored in 12 of 13 games last year so he might have underachieved last year. He was kidding, in response to a question about last season possibly being his best coaching job.
* Marcus Lattimore is getting back to normal, Spurrier thinks.
* The coach would like to see an eight-team playoff. He says the six BCS champs would get in and two at-large teams would also be in… if he called the shots. (He apparently hasn’t gotten the memo that the Big East is no longer really considered to be a big-time league.)
* The coach says James Franklin has his team at Vanderbilt believing they can beat anybody they play. “He’s done a very good job.”
* Spurrier seemed to suggest that new defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward might share a few philosophies with him than the departed Ellis Johnson did. That’s not a surprise as it’s been rumored for months that Spurrier and Johnson drifted a part. Regardless, Johnson did a heckuva job at Columbia — which Spurrier admitted — and he deserves credit for helping the head coach win with defense rather than offense on many occasions.
* Spurrier says winning the SEC is “maybe just as big as the national championship.” (Here’s guessing Les Miles and LSU fans have a different feeling on that one these days.)
Our overall grade for Spurrier’s “performance” based on comfort, friendliness, openness… we’ll give him a 5 on a 1-5 scale. Loose, entertaining, upbeat. When Spurrier’s on — and not being too wicked with his tongue — he’s as good as it gets. Compared to the way he looked and sounded two years ago during Media Days, this Steve Spurrier seemed like a totally different person. That’s the difference between a six-loss season with a bowl loss to UConn and an 11-win season with a bowl win over Nebraska. No one rises and falls as emotionally after wins and losses as the Ol’ Ball Coach.