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Carolina’s Ellington Gives Up Football For Hoops

South Carolina two-sport star Bruce Ellington has decided to focus on just one sport moving forward and that sport will be basketball.  That move could help save coach Darrin Horn’s job.

Ellington played basketball exclusively as a freshman in Columbia.  He started 30 games for the Cocks in 2010-11 and led them in scoring with 12.8 points per game.  But last fall, Ellington gave football a go.

Running, receiving and returning kicks he put up 780 all-purpose yards and scored a pair of touchdowns for Steve Spurrier’s squad.  But he also missed out on preseason basketball practices and the early part of the hoops season as Horn tried to break in several new players.  Having a veteran like Ellington around would have surely helped on that front.  (Sidenote — Ron Morris of The State was publicly called out by Spurrier last fall in part because he wrote that USC’s football coach had poached Ellington from USC’s basketball coach… a charge denied by Spurrier and Horn.)

Ellington returned in time to play in 24 games with Carolina this past season as a sophomore.  He started just 15 games.  His minutes played, scoring and rebounding were all down slightly from his freshman year.

“Basketball’s always been my first love,” he said in a statement.  “After giving it a lot of thought, this is the decision I’ve made.  If you want to be great at something, you have to commit to it full-time… I appreciate Coach Spurrier for giving me an opportunity to play football at South Carolina.  It was a great experience, but right now I want to focus on basketball.”

This can only be viewed as a positive for Horn.  Whether it’s enough to save his job — and from what we’re told he will likely hang onto his job — remains to be seen.

Ellington was good enough to earn SEC Freshman of the Week honors in basketball and in football.

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Miscommunication Leads To Clemson Coach Ranting About Spurrier, Carolina

Think before you speak.

Act, don’t react.

Those are two lessons I’m still trying to learn at age 40.  Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is a couple of years older than me, but it’s pretty clear he’s still struggling with those wise rules, too.

Swinney unleashed a rant against South Carolina and Steve Spurrier yesterday because of a comment that had been attributed to the Gamecocks’ coach.  Only, Spurrier never made the comment in the first place.

Here’s a handy timeline of what transpired:

* Last weekend, South Carolina beat Clemson 34-13 to nail down the school’s third-straight win over its arch-rival… the first time in decades that that had happened.

* During the broadcast of that game former Cock quarterback and current play-by-play voice Todd Ellis said “As Coach Spurrier says, we may not be LSU or Alabama… but we ain’t Clemson, folks.”

* Someone in the football offices at Carolina heard the comment and took to the official Twitter feed @GamecockFB to send out the following message:

“‘We aren’t LSU, and we aren’t Alabama.  But we sure ain’t Clemson.’ — Steve Spurrier.”

* The problem?  Spurrier has often said that Carolina isn’t LSU or Alabama, but it was Ellis who added, “but we ain’t Clemson.”  “If I didn’t make it clear, then that’s regrettable.  He did not say that,” Ellis said post-furor.

* Spurrier says his daughter told him about the tweet and how it was making the rounds on Wednesday.  “I said, ‘Well, what do you want me to do?  I didn’t say it.”

* But when Swinney was asked about the quote yesterday, he sure wasn’t aware that Spurrier had never said that last part.  Here’s how he responded:

“I heard that.  That’s the kind of things that gets back to you, and I don’t know if he really said that or not, but I guess he did because there has been no rebuttal.  If he said that, that’s disappointing.  I was taught to win and lose with class.

I guess I’d have to say I agree with him.  If I had to say anything, he’s right.  They’re not Clemson.  They’re never going to be Clemson, to be honest with you.  No three-game win-streak is going to change that.  It’s not the first-time they’ve won three in a row.  It won’t be the last time.  It might be 50 more years, but it will probably happen again.

I’ve gone out of my way to be complimentary to them, complimentary to Coach Spurrier.  I’m going to defend my program.  I’m going to defend my players, my coaches.  I’m going to defense Clemson University, because I believe in it.  I think he’s exactly right.  They’re not Clemson.  They never will be.

You’re looking at the best era in the history of South Carolina football right now.  I think they just had heir second 10-win season.  They won a championship in 1969 and the 2010 SEC East.  This rivalry, there’s a lot of rivalries out there.  This is more of a domination.  And that’s a fact.  My kids’ grandkids won’t live long enough to see this ever really become a rivalry.  It is what it is.

Again, I’ve got respect for their program.  South Carolina’s not Clemson.  There’s a lot of differences.  This is a place that’s won a national title, 17 conference championships, two division titles.  Heck, we’ve won more bowl games than they’ve ever even been to.  I think our program has 100-plus more wins that South Carolina.  That’s reality.  That’s the best era they’ve had in 115 years of South Carolina football — right now.  And they’ve done a great job.  They’ve whipped our butt the last three years.  It’s my job to change that.

Coach Spurrier’s been there seven years.  After five years, I think he had 35 wins.  New contract, all that kind of stuff.  After five years and I have only 35 wins at Clemson, there’s going to be a new coach here.  You know what?  There should be, because there’s a different standard.  He’s exactly right.  They ain’t Alabama.  They ain’t LSU.  And they’re certainly not Clemson.

That’s why Carolina is in Chapel Hill and USC is in California.  The university in this state, always has been, always will be Clemson.  It’s right here in Clemson, South Carolina.  Print that.  Tweet that.  Whatever.”

Aw, snap.  So what did Spurrier say when asked about Swinney’s rant about a statement he reportedly didn’t make?

“I don’t know what he said, don’t even care really.  I am not getting into any verbal (altercations) with anybody….

That crap can happen.  They can stick quotes on you.  As long as the story gets straight, that’s fine with me.  I am not mad with anybody.  We have a good relationship with those guys, and it’s going to stay that way.”

Well that was a calm, cool response.  Good for Spurrier.  I’m surprised he didn’t take any kind of shot back at Swinney.

He what?  He said something else?

“Smart people don’t believe everything they read and they don’t believe hearsay. … I guess Dabo believed it.”


Ironically, the question was asked just last week in a Palmetto State newspaper if the Clemson-Carolina game should be moved to Thanksgiving in order to give the game a bit more pep.

Doesn’t look like that’ll be necessary at all.

Thanks to Twitter.

What a surprise.

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2 a.m. "Welcome Back" Event Scheduled inside Williams-Brice Stadium

Gates 12 and 16 in the South End Zone will be open at 1 a.m.; fans should sit in the south end zone. Coach Spurrier and the team will address the fans after they return from the airport.

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