Like Jason Kirk, my initial reaction to reading Steve Spurrier's comments about Dabo Swinney during the Lattimore birthday celebration were that Spurrier was out of line. The celebration was about Lattimore, right? And thus Spurrier should have backed off stoking the flames of the rivalry with Clemson, particularly after Dabo graciously complimented and offered condolences to Lattimore over the weekend. However, like Kirk, after taking the time to watch the video of Spurrier's speech, my perspective changed. Really, nothing Spurrier said was all that bad. The focus is clearly on thanking Dabo for his kind words about Lattimore. Sure, Spurrier gets a little dig in, but this has to be about the most friendly way one can imagine Spurrier talking about Dabo, considering the bad blood between the two. You have to remember, too, that Spurrier's message at the beginning of the speech was that the event was intended to be a celebration of Lattimore, not a dirge-like memorial. A pep rally, you might say. A crowd-pleaser or two was to be expected.
Dabo himself, believe it or not, seems to get it. After being told about the comments last night, Dabo fired back by saying that he was embarrassed for Spurrier. However, after presumably doing what I did and taking the time to watch the footage, Dabo did an about-face today:
"Personally, I think he was trying to pay me a compliment," Swinney said. "I know it was kind of a roundabout way of getting there. It would be like me telling my wife ‘I think you should wear this dress, it looks great on you. You don’t look near as fat in this dress.’ I’ll take it as a compliment. I think that is what he was trying to do."
Dabo seems to recognize that the comments were all in good fun and weren't really all that ill-spirited, at least as far as the typical banter in this rivalry goes.
What gives, then, with the hostile media response to Spurrier's comments? If Dabo, certainly not a guy known for mincing words or backing down from sparring in the media, can take it, why can't everyone else? Among the many misplaced responses to Spurrier's comments that I've found is this article by Graham Watson of Yahoo. Spurrier makes Lattimore Day all about Spurrier? Give me a break. Have these people actually watched the footage? Spurrier clearly uses Dabo's comments as a jumping-off point for going into a long commentary on everything there is to love about Lattimore. If that's not showing both respect to Dabo and adulation to Lattimore, I don't know what is.
Unfortunately, a lot of the coverage of what should really be a complete non-issue reeks of the media trying to capitalize on this story by drumming up controversy. In other words, if there's anyone trying to make Marcus Lattimore Day about someone other than Marcus Lattimore, it's the media trying to make it all about their perceived narratives and dramas. They're the ones who should be ashamed, not Spurrier.
By the way, if you want to read something that really hits the nail on the head about this "story," read what Spencer has to say. You won't be disappointed.