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The Rivalry
The Record

Spurrier Changing Gamecock Football
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- What I'll take from here is the atmosphere. What I mean is the frenetic, deafening, chaotic atmosphere that is now Gamecocks football. And it's all thanks to Steve Spurrier.
"It's like this is Tennessee or Georgia or I don't know what," South Carolina tackle Na'Shan Goddard said after a 30-22 defeat of Florida.

That's right. South Carolina over Florida. For the first time since 1939. For the first time since Gone With The Wind and the Wizard of Oz were in theaters.

Pretty good year for theaters. And an amazing year this is for South Carolina, under the first-year direction of Spurrier.

Five wins in a row. A 7-3 record. Are you serious?

OK, back to the atmosphere at Williams-Brice Stadium.

"I looked into the stands and all I could think of was Duke basketball," Goddard said. "They were jumping up and down. And they were jumping all game. Half the crowd had their shirts off. I wanted to jump up in there with them."

I really don't know or care how good a player Goddard is. He is a remarkable quote. And having been at South Carolina for five years, he deserves to have his perspective highlighted here.

Perspective? Here's some for you.

Moments before Goddard told stories about handing Spurrier his first game ball in the locker room -- it took this long? -- Florida coach Urban Meyer, also in his first season, was lamenting his lost season.

"Three losses in the SEC?" Meyer said. "Obviously, at Florida, we need to do better than that."

I asked Meyer, who was teary-eyed, about his emotions.

"I just want to get back with my team," he said.

Florida is eliminated from the SEC East race because it couldn't stop the running game -- yes, running game -- of South Carolina. Meyer said he expected the Gamecocks to pass more.

Spurrier said he thought Florida would expect them to pass more.

"We are defying logic," Spurrier said.

After the game, on the field, Spurrier told me it wasn't about beating Florida, the school he built into a power in 12 years.

But Blake Mitchell, Spurrier's quarterback, said: "He says it didn't mean anything. But we all know it did."

Back to Goddard.

In the locker room after the game, he prevented Spurrier from speaking up.

"Before you even start, coach, you're getting this game ball. You deserve it -- for beating your old team," Goddard said.

According to Goddard, Spurrier turned beet red. According to Goddard, Spurrier had nothing left to say.

"Besides, anything he said would have been drowned out," Goddard said. "I've never heard our locker room so loud."

In just 10 games, Spurrier has helped transform a culture. Sure, the Gamecocks did some positive things under Lou Holtz. But this is a different level. This is SEC-competitive level.

This is expand-Williams-Brice-to-93,000 seats-level. Did I mention that's the plan? And did I mention that's bigger than The Swamp? The Florida Field that Spurrier nicknamed?

South Carolina football BIGGER than Florida? Far-fetched perhaps, even to Spurrier, who all season has referred to the "Big Three" of Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.

Forty-five minutes after the game, about 1,000 South Carolina fans were still in the metal bleachers of Williams-Brice. They were looking up at a rented television screen, hanging from a white crane, broadcasting Spurrier's postgame news conference.

There were band members and uniformed officers and students and alumni, all looking up at their new coach. The man who has changed things around here. Maybe forever.

"There were band members and uniformed officers and students and alumni, all looking up at their new coach. The man who has changed things around here. Maybe forever."  ~ESPN.COM (on Spurrier's influence at Carolina)