Just another win for Spurrier? Don’t believe it
Saturday, November 12, 2005, 06:44 PM
By: Jeff Shultz
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
When there is only one sign hanging in a corner of the stadium that somewhat sheepishly recognizes the “1969 ACC Champions,”
it sort of lets you know. Haven’t been a lot of celebrations around here.
It follows that Steve Spurrier
tried to stay out of the way Saturday.
It was South Carolina’s moment — not his. It was for the players,
the students, the alumni — not him. Florida? Did South Carolina play Florida?
Funny. Didn’t even notice. Right.
“I didn’t look over there much,” Spurrier
said. “I didn’t even look over there during pregame warmups. I just tried to find a play or two to help South
Carolina. Didn’t think about Florida much at all.”
Great coach. Lousy liar.
The wonder was that after South Carolina punched the Gators in the mouth and their fans in
the gut with a 30-22 win at Williams-Brice Stadium, Spurrier didn’t turn around, face the
Florida executive suite and give some biting salute.
This game meant more to Spurrier
than he’ll ever let on, and it had far less to do with the fact the Gamecocks hadn’t
beaten Florida since 1939 than it did his own history. It wasn’t so much that Spurrier
left Gainesville after 122 wins, six SEC titles and a national championship for the Redskins. That was about ambition. But
when his NFL experience went splat and Florida had an opening, school president Bernie Machen
and athletics director Jeremy Foley didn’t immediately offer a warm embrace.
wasn’t certain he wanted to come back. But he would’ve liked the chance to say no. It hurt.
kept saying all week it was like every other game,” defensive tackle Chris Tucker said. “I was thinking, bull.
This is his old team. I’m sure he was more excited than anybody.”
Could this have possibly gone any better
for Spurrier? The Gamecocks (7-3) have now won five straight after
losing to Alabama and Auburn by a combined score of 85-21. Spurrier came into the season wanting
to be one of the big three: Florida, Tennessee or Georgia. He beat two and scared the hair off
It almost seemed like he was preordained to win Saturday. South Carolina led 7-0 before it had even done
much on offense. An interception and ground-shaking, 48-yard return by the 288-pound Tucker set up a short TD run. Later,
with a 14-3 lead, Spurrier went for it on fourth-and-2 from the Florida
3 rather than kick a field goal — and fullback Daccus Turman punched in his second touchdown.
Quoting the man
who changed offenses in the SEC: “Who’d ever think that fullback up the middle would be one of our best plays?”
The Gamecocks had 80 yards rushing by halftime. They had been averaging 79 per game.
players emulated their coach. They were neither intimidated nor lacked confidence. They committed no turnovers, had only three
What would it have been like if he was on the other sideline?
“It would’ve been like
every other year,” Tucker said.
On the other sideline, this was Urban Meyer’s view: His players looked
disorganized, even disinterested. A shot from Spurrier: “I really think they played harder
against Georgia… . This was one of our easiest wins.”
Florida was called for
11 penalties, including a false start on second-and-inches on a potential scoring drive at midfield, and illegal participation
for having too many players during a South Carolina punt, which negated a would-be final Florida
Should play well in Shreveport. Spurrier and Meyer are both 7-3, but it’s
not hard to figure which one would win a popularity contest today. After the game, South Carolina players dumped an ice bucket
on their coach and attempted to carry him off the field, but Spurrier declined.
only do that for conference championships,” he said. “I’m going to have to coach them up on that.”
they all knew what it meant to Spurrier, even if he said only, “Winning at Tennessee and
this victory are similar.” They presented their coach with a game ball in the locker room. Spurrier
“His face was all red,” said tackle Na’Shan Goddard. “He was smiling.”
he also had something to celebrate after all.