John Adams: Gamecocks rekindling glory days for Steve Spurrier

John Adams
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier talks with reporters during Southeastern Conference Football Media Days in Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday, July 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier talks with reporters during Southeastern Conference Football Media Days in Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday, July 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

UF quarterback John Brantley talks at SEC Media Days

HOOVER, Ala. — SEC football has come a long way since it went to divisional play. And if you are strictly tracking the East, you could say that it has come full circle.

Look at what coach has the most playmakers. Steve Spurrier.

Look whose team is the most popular pick to win the division. Spurrier's.

Does that make you nostalgic for the 1990s?

Don't get the wrong idea. This isn't a 1990s rerun.

Nobody is suggesting Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks are as loaded as his Florida teams that dominated the conference a couple of decades ago.

Spurrier is different, too. The Older Ball Coach is more restrained than the Ol' Ball Coach, who was almost as adept at needling opposing coaches as he was at calling plays.

And he rarely bothered downplaying his team's capabilities.

The Older Ball Coach said at Wednesday's SEC Football Media Days: "We're not patting ourselves on the back too much. We've got a long way to go."

Not as far as the rest of the division.

The Gamecocks might not have the dazzling array of talent as Spurrier's Gators once did. But they're sufficiently armed to win back-to-back divisional titles and clearly look superior to the current Gators.

South Carolina has the best corps of receivers, the best running back, the best pass rushers and the best cornerback in the division.

It also has the most enigmatic quarterback. But no one close to the program believes Stephen Garcia's myriad off-the-field mishaps will prevent him from being South Carolina's quarterback this fall.

As Spurrier is quick to point out, it's not as though Garcia has physically harmed someone.

"I guess we just won't kick him (off the team) for being stupid," Spurrier said. "Basically, we do believe he's a good person."

That doesn't make him Danny Wuerffel. But Garcia is solid enough to help the Gamecocks win a depleted division.

You could have made that assessment as soon as last season ended. You can make it with more conviction this summer.

South Carolina has gained ground on its primary divisional competition since February and not just because it signed high school star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

While you were reading that last sentence, I'm guessing Georgia lost another running back. It has been that kind of off-season for the Bulldogs, who have kicked their two most experienced running backs off the team and suspended another one for the season opener.

Florida also suffered a significant loss when all-conference cornerback Janoris Jenkins was dismissed from school.

South Carolina has something else going for it: head-coaching. Spurrier has more head-coaching experience than the rest of the division coaches combined.

He has been coaching long enough that in a media get-together of this magnitude, he's sure to be asked how much longer he will do it.

"I always say 'four or five more years,' " he said. "Health-wise, I feel about like I did 10 years ago. And we've got the best players since I've been here. Our program, I believe, is headed in the right direction.

"If it was going bad and we were getting beat, I'd be gone."

Instead, he's going for back-to-back divisional titles — just like in his Florida heyday.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 28

tdforvols writes:

What a hoot! Spurrier's team lost 5 games last year yet somehow they are considered world beaters. Nice try John but Fail!

RoadTrip writes:

JA - they were 9-5 last year - not 12-2. That in a down year in the SEC east. They got smoked by the Barn when it counted. Could we at least wait until they actually win the SEC against quality competition before crowning the OLD Ball Coach as king?

The_Ghost_of_Duke_DeLuca writes:

Spurrier is one of the greatest college coaches in history. That win over Alabama last year was no fluke. If he wins the East this year - most observers have him as the favorite - the Gamecocks will be contenders for years. Spurrier can do it and I think he will.

I just wish he would do it in the ACC.

Go4Two writes:

Funny just a few years ago people with slim football knowledge was shouting the most over use line in football " the game has passed him by" The game does not pass coaches by good football player do" Spurier lost a SC because he did not have enough good players. He is winning now because the talent is better.

SummittsCourt writes:

The old ball coach is up to his old tricks in allowing "troubled" players to keep getting extra chances if he thinks they can help him win.

We all know Garcia would be off any other team right now, but spurrier knows he has to have him on his team if he wants to win.

There is nothing that has changed on that front for the old arrogant piss ant coach.

The_Real_Orange writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

The old ball coach is up to his old tricks in allowing "troubled" players to keep getting extra chances if he thinks they can help him win.

We all know Garcia would be off any other team right now, but spurrier knows he has to have him on his team if he wants to win.

There is nothing that has changed on that front for the old arrogant piss ant coach.

BS, there is not a coach out there that doesn't go out of his way to keep his starting qb on the team. I doubt any SEC team would have kicked off Garcia for what he has allegedly done.
As for SC this season, I can't wait to see if last year was a fluke or if they can improve enough to lose less than 4 regular season games.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

BS, there is not a coach out there that doesn't go out of his way to keep his starting qb on the team. I doubt any SEC team would have kicked off Garcia for what he has allegedly done.
As for SC this season, I can't wait to see if last year was a fluke or if they can improve enough to lose less than 4 regular season games.

Agreed, and let us look at Janzen Jackson for UT. Why is he given chance after chance? All coaches do it

jdcdjc writes:

in response to osu2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are right, he did. THAT IS SOMETHING THAT OSU HAS NEVER BEEN ABLE TO DO IN FOOTBALL!!!!

GreerVol22 writes:

still a weazel with a smart mouth. more worried about his golf game than building character and helping local charities. But he gets paid to win football games, not hearts.

easleychuck writes:

Calm down, Francis. They have 1 division title. The East did not have a decent team besides themselves last season. They got trounced in the title game. The West still has 3 teams that most likely are better than them this year. Let UF, UT and GA reload and then we can see how glorious it is in Columbia.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Got to respect him. But he is just such a jackwagon....You know it. I know it...He knows it too. Oh well, vengeance is mine, sayeth.........and hope springs eternal....

Volunatic writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

Agreed, and let us look at Janzen Jackson for UT. Why is he given chance after chance? All coaches do it

What has Janzen Jackson done?

Volunatic writes:

in response to jdcdjc:

You are right, he did. THAT IS SOMETHING THAT OSU HAS NEVER BEEN ABLE TO DO IN FOOTBALL!!!!

The only team from the state of Ohio that ever beat Tennessee in football was the University of Cincinnati.
In 1904.

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

adams you are such a trip,youll talk about anythang but Tennessee football,folks arround my neck of the woods thionks you need to move on down the road,your no good

DalTexVol writes:

in response to osu2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Oklahoma State?

DalTexVol writes:

in response to DalTexVol:

Oklahoma State?

Sorry. I meant to say THE Oklahoma State University.

DalTexVol writes:

Spurrier was served a major dose of humble pie in the NFL. Never had the same attitude after that so he doesn't bother me now. That will happen to you when you are outcoached by the immortal Dave Campo in the 2002 Thanksgiving game. GO COWBOYS! GO VOLS!

VOLliven2it writes:

Wow, I guess there just is no confidence at all(medianically speaking)in any SEC east team except the old ball coach's boys from Columbia. So let me get this straight Mr. Adams, you think one eastern division crown in a year with the usual contenders all struggling, puts Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks(Ihopeit'sokaytowritethatname)back into his coaching glory days? I hope you are kidding. Of course you see no other legitimate contender in the east this year and you may be right. Until theSouthCarolinaUniversity and their all time renowned head coach bring home an SEC title and contend for a national title please little John, please do not bring up his former glory days from that school further south which Vols fans just cannot like. It is nowhere near the same conversation.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

Agreed, and let us look at Janzen Jackson for UT. Why is he given chance after chance? All coaches do it

Janzen hasn't gotten 5 or 6 chances that we know of and we don't know what his issues are so there is no comparison.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

BS, there is not a coach out there that doesn't go out of his way to keep his starting qb on the team. I doubt any SEC team would have kicked off Garcia for what he has allegedly done.
As for SC this season, I can't wait to see if last year was a fluke or if they can improve enough to lose less than 4 regular season games.

Real Orange, the only BS is your statement. You can't generalize everyone because one does it. Garcia has had 5 or 6 chances that we know of and had bascially received minor wrist slaps when he did screw up. And it's not "alledged".

I can't see Dooley giving Bray multiple chances for having similar screw ups like Garcia.

Spurrier is as dirty as they come, and for whatever reason he continues to skate on major investigations.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to osu2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"DUMPING"??? As I recall, it was a one-point game with Conley being awarded about 20 free-throws in the second half and the Vols still having a chance to win on the last shot. I guess compared to the rest of OSU's record in big football and basketball games in the last 20 years or so, that qualifies as a "dumping", just not in the real world.

knoxchatter writes:

The WORST thing anyone can say about Steve Spurrier is that he is an excellent football coach! He is a master of the game. Although his numbers haven't yet...yet....reached those of his realm at Florida, the forward progress of South Carolina has been, and will continue to be, exciting to watch under Spurrier. Vol fans can look to South Carolina for an example of how it will require patience on our parts during the rebuilding of the Big Orange.

KevDVol writes:

in response to osu2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I remember the score being tied in the 4th Quarter but I guess we just have different definitions of a a butt whuppin'. I will be surprised if the Gamecocks do better in Neyland.

If the Vols don't give away 3 fumbles and an interception for a touchdown (like last year), we might stand a chance.

OrangePride writes:

Yes, great SC is the looming giant of the East...and I don't buy it. Clearly, SC has some excellent returning talent and are the returning champions from last year. But I see the East as a wide open race. I will not be at all surprised to see someone other than SC at the top of the table next year. And although a bit unlikely in the eyes of many, UT is not out of this race by a long shot! Given where we were last year at this time and now, we will be a great deal more competitive than the experts might think! GO VOLS!

OrangePride writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

Agreed, and let us look at Janzen Jackson for UT. Why is he given chance after chance? All coaches do it

Jackson has not had "chance after chance" as regards disciplinary issues. Since you make the statement, it is up to you to back it up. Cite the disciplinary issues for JJ. You can't...so zip it!

keviningeorgia writes:

Spurrier is a great college coach. He was a pretty good pro coach in the USFL and even at Washington in the NFL. But, the college game is where he appears to be happiest. Like him or not, he picked up right where Lou Holtz left off and is advancing SC football even further. Holtz righted a terribly listing ship at Carolina. And, had they not made a great choice in getting Spurrier when Lou retired, they may have slipped back in the tank. He's a cocky lil smart as_ but if I were a Carolina fan I would love having him as the coach... I also enjoyed listening to Dooley's presser today. I liked his attitude and I think he expects to win this year. I'm not going to go crazy like some UT fans and say they win the East next year. But, I like them for 7 to 8 wins total this year. That means Florida, Georgia or SC slips up and gets beat by them. If they get Florida, I like them for 8 or 9 total. But, anything 7 or above would be a real success with their SEC West schedual.

talon90 writes:

GC fan here, don't think for a second you are being taken for granted, UT. Of all our games, in fact, I remember the UT game as our most resilient, cause you really pushed us hard, and we didn't crack. (like with Kentucky) So, I have nothing but respect for your team, and I hope you don't play nearly as well against us as I am afraid you might. Good luck (otherwise) with your program.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to talon90:

GC fan here, don't think for a second you are being taken for granted, UT. Of all our games, in fact, I remember the UT game as our most resilient, cause you really pushed us hard, and we didn't crack. (like with Kentucky) So, I have nothing but respect for your team, and I hope you don't play nearly as well against us as I am afraid you might. Good luck (otherwise) with your program.

Having lived in and visited in SC for the last 25 or so years, I always thought that I had never seen a fan base so generous and supportive of a less-successful football program anywhere. Even though I am not a great Spurrier fan, I am glad for my many friends in SC that they are finally getting some return on their many years of fervent devotion. That doesn't make me any less eager for the Vols to beat the Gamecocks in any athletic endeavor, but I don't mind if you enjoy your present success as long as it lasts.

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