HOOVER, ALA. | Steve Spurrier didn’t stick around long as an NFL head coach, but he’s poised to set a longevity record in the Southeastern Conference for football coaches.
He’ll 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.
“When 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,” he said. “But that was a bad plan.”
Spurrier, now 69, went 12-20 in two years with the Washington Redskins, but has things humming the last few years at South Carolina.
“Probably in a little better mood because we’ve won some more since than when I first got there,” fifth-year senior quarterback Dylan Thompson said. “He has fun, he has energy.”
South Carolina is coming off its third straight 11-win season. The Gamecocks never had any before he arrived.
“You could probably describe their football tradition as mediocre,” Spurrier said. “They had a losing record overall, way under .500 in SEC games. Nowhere to go but up.”
South Carolina reached the SEC title game in 2010, but hasn’t gone to Atlanta in any of the last three years. Georgia went from the SEC East in 2011 and 2012 and Missouri in 2013.
“We’ve fallen short, but it’s just made us hungry,” Thompson said. “We’ve been fortunate to win 11 games three years in a row but that’s not enough for us. We’re going to do all we can to get there and more.”
The Gamecocks have owned archrival Clemson, winning five straight.
Spurrier said most Gamecocks fans would rather beat Clemson than win the SEC.
“That is how big it is to them, that one game,” he said. “Personally, I’d rather win the SEC.”
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’t easy.
“I 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,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. “And that’s not coach talk.”
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 “a lot of momentum,” after three straight wins to end last season.
“We’re trying to build a championship program,” 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’t keep Spurrier from offering the closest thing to a zinger—about Sumlin’s now $5 million a year salary–during Spurrier’s time talking to the media on Tuesday
“Kevin Sumlin has an excellent record as a coach,” Sumlin said. “He’s a good negotiator; we know that also, so he’s got a good deal.”
Asked about that later, Sumlin said: “You guys stirring the pot, trying to bring me in. It’s year three, you’re not going to get me on that.”
THIS AND THAT
Georgia brought Drew Butler to SEC Media Days in 2010, but punters aren’t on the invite list from their schools often. Texas A&M’s Drew Kaser was on the scene Tuesday. “I hope y’all saw him,” Sumlin said. “I hope you won’t see him a bunch this year.” … Sumlin was asked Tuesday about Johnny Manziel’s recent partying, which he doesn’t have to concern himself with anymore since the star quarterback is gone from Texas A&M to the NFL. “Is this the SEC Media Days?” he said. “No, that’s a question about the Cleveland Browns. Anybody else got something?” …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.