HOOVER, ALA. | Steve Spurrier didn‚Äôt stick around long as an NFL head coach, but he‚Äôs poised to set a longevity record in the Southeastern Conference for football coaches.
He‚Äôll become the first in the SEC to be at two different programs for 10 years.
This is his 10th season at South Carolina after his ultra-successful run at Florida where he won six SEC titles.
‚ÄúWhen I left Florida after 12 years, I thought I was going to coach NFL five or six years and retire to the beach and play golf a bunch and travel around,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúBut that was a bad plan.‚Äù
Spurrier, now 69, went 12-20 in two years with the Washington Redskins, but has things humming the last few years at South Carolina.
‚ÄúProbably in a little better mood because we‚Äôve won some more since than when I first got there,‚Äù fifth-year senior quarterback Dylan Thompson said. ‚ÄúHe has fun, he has energy.‚Äù
South Carolina is coming off its third straight 11-win season. The Gamecocks never had any before he arrived.
‚ÄúYou could probably describe their football tradition as mediocre,‚Äù Spurrier said. ‚ÄúThey had a losing record overall, way under .500 in SEC games. Nowhere to go but up.‚Äù
South Carolina reached the SEC title game in 2010, but hasn‚Äôt gone to Atlanta in any of the last three years. Georgia went from the SEC East in 2011 and 2012 and Missouri in 2013.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve fallen short, but it‚Äôs just made us hungry,‚Äù Thompson said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve been fortunate to win 11 games three years in a row but that‚Äôs not enough for us. We‚Äôre going to do all we can to get there and more.‚Äù
The Gamecocks have owned archrival Clemson, winning five straight.
Spurrier said most Gamecocks fans would rather beat Clemson than win the SEC.
‚ÄúThat is how big it is to them, that one game,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúPersonally, I‚Äôd rather win the SEC.‚Äù
MISSISSIPPI STATE WANTS TO CRASH SEC WEST PARTY
In a division with Alabama, Auburn and LSU, getting to the top of the SEC West isn‚Äôt easy.
‚ÄúI think there are seven coaches in the SEC West that expect to find a way to get to Atlanta and win our side of the league,‚Äù Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. ‚ÄúAnd that‚Äôs not coach talk.‚Äù
Mississippi State is 13-19 in SEC play over the past four years, but has been to four straight bowl games, including a Liberty Bowl win over Rice to finish 7-6 overall last season.
Even if the Bulldogs are improved with 18 starters returning, the three big boys from the West still stand in their way as could rising Ole Miss. There are road games at LSU, Alabama and Ole Miss.
Mullen sees ‚Äúa lot of momentum,‚Äù after three straight wins to end last season.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre trying to build a championship program,‚Äù said Mullen, entering his sixth season.
SPURRIER TAKES MILD SHOT AT BUDDY SUMLIN
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and Spurrier are friendly. They went on a golfing trip a couple of years back to Ireland with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.
That didn‚Äôt keep Spurrier from offering the closest thing to a zinger‚Äîabout Sumlin‚Äôs now $5 million a year salary–during Spurrier‚Äôs time talking to the media on Tuesday
‚ÄúKevin Sumlin has an excellent record as a coach,‚Äù Sumlin said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a good negotiator; we know that also, so he‚Äôs got a good deal.‚Äù
Asked about that later, Sumlin said: ‚ÄúYou guys stirring the pot, trying to bring me in. It‚Äôs year three, you‚Äôre not going to get me on that.‚Äù
THIS AND THAT
Georgia brought Drew Butler to SEC Media Days in 2010, but punters aren‚Äôt on the invite list from their schools often. Texas A&M‚Äôs Drew Kaser was on the scene Tuesday. ‚ÄúI hope y‚Äôall saw him,‚Äù Sumlin said. ‚ÄúI hope you won‚Äôt see him a bunch this year.‚Äù ‚Ä¶ Sumlin was asked Tuesday about Johnny Manziel‚Äôs recent partying, which he doesn‚Äôt have to concern himself with anymore since the star quarterback is gone from Texas A&M to the NFL. ‚ÄúIs this the SEC Media Days?‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúNo, that‚Äôs a question about the Cleveland Browns. Anybody else got something?‚Äù ‚Ä¶Georgia receiver Chris Conley, who will be in attendance Thursday with the Bulldogs contingent, is one of 12 SEC players on the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for achievements off the field.