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Just another win for Spurrier? Don’t believe it
Saturday, November 12, 2005, 06:44 PM
By: Jeff Shultz
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Columbia — 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.”

Steve Spurrier: 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.

Spurrier wasn’t certain he wanted to come back. But he would’ve liked the chance to say no. It hurt.

“He 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 the third.

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.

Spurrier’s players emulated their coach. They were neither intimidated nor lacked confidence. They committed no turnovers, had only three penalties.

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 possession.

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.

“You only do that for conference championships,” he said. “I’m going to have to coach them up on that.”

But 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 got emotional.

“His face was all red,” said tackle Na’Shan Goddard. “He was smiling.”

Seems he also had something to celebrate after all.
 
Source: Click Here

“He kept saying all week it was like every other game.  I was thinking, bull. This is his old team. I’m sure he was more excited than anybody.”  ~Chris Tucker (on Spurrier playing his old team)