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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.

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