After Saturday’s big win over Missouri, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier gave a statement at his postgame presser… and then he left the room without taking questions. Sunday, on his teleconference, the coach gave a statement… and then he hung up the phone before taking questions.
On Monday, we suggested that the Ol’ Ball Coach was a) feeling powerful enough to do whatever he liked because he’s winning and b) probably mad at something written by Ron Morris, a columnist for The State newspaper in Columbia who Spurrier strongly dislikes.
Yesterday, Spurrier was talking to the media again. He spoke long enough to plainly state what many already know — that unbeaten Carolina should defeat Kentucky this weekend in Lexington:
“I think we are better than them. But if we don’t play better than them, they can certainly beat us. Personnel-wise, they might be a little below some of the SEC teams, but they are a well-coached bunch. We know that upsets happen, and we know why they happen, usually when a team is not ready to play. Simple as that…
We know the meat of the schedule is down the road, but this is a game this week that’s one of 12, and we’re going to try to play our best.”
That’s kind of a far cry from Nick Saban’s “Why won’t you people take Western Kentucky seriously?” rant, no? Last year, Spurrier suggested that his Gamecocks could have hung 70 points or more on UK. Obviously, Carolina’s coach doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for Kentucky, a team that upset his Cocks on their last visit to Commonwealth Stadium.
But the key here is that Spurrier’s talking to the press again. Now the question is: Why did he go silent on everybody in the first place.
The aforementioned Morris seems to know that he’s the reason.
Today, Morris explains in column form that he was simply doing his job when he dared to suggest last week that Spurrier shouldn’t have played an already banged-up Connor Shaw in a victory of UAB. (And to be fair, most of the folks I spoke with also wondered why Spurrier would risk playing Shaw.). Here’s a piece of Morris column from today:
“Football coaches are hired to win football games. Sports columnists are expected to praise and critique those coaches, their teams and their programs.
It is natural for coaches — in any college town — to ask about columnists: ‘Who the heck are you to judge me?’
The answer is today, as it always has been: ‘I’m just a sports columnist doing my job.’”
All of that’s true. Many fans don’t care, of course, because many fans want only “positive” stories about their team or coach. Right up until said team and coach start losing. At that point, they tend to get angry with the media for “overhyping” a team. Trust me, I’ve experienced it firsthand.
“Negative” columns are also the ones that tend to be most remembered, as Morris also states in his column:
“The same week that I wrote about Shaw starting against UAB, I also wrote in celebration of Spurrier’s 200th win, the novelty and success of USC’s ‘Rabbits’ defense and how coordinator Lorenzo Ward’s defense excelled against Missouri. (Credit to Spurrier for placing Ward in charge of the defense).”
No one cared about the other columns, just the one questioning Spurrier’s use of Shaw and whether or not it would impact the rest of Carolina’s season.
If the story ended there, fans would back Spurrier and the media would back Morris (even though I’ve disagreed with several of Morris’ columns on this site in the past). Morris was doing his job. Spurrier punished everyone — including Carolina fans — by childishly zipping his lips and pouting.
But Morris took things a step further yesterday while appearing on Bill King’s radio show on XM Radio.
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