Steve Spurrier was, as usual, one of the most anticipated SEC Media Days participants and he didn't disappoint. We've already reported some of the highlights of what he said on Tuesday, but a more extensive transcript of his comments is below.
On the 2014 season:
"We had a little bit of a struggle in the middle of last season. As most of you know, we lost four out of five in the middle of the year, and it looked like we were definitely heading for a losing season, but really proud of the team, the players, everyone involved with the team. We won three of the last four. Somehow or another, won a game down in The Swamp, very fortunate, and then beat Miami in a bowl game. So we got rejuvenated. We got new life. We were 7-6, same as Tennessee and the same as Arkansas, and I think they're sort of celebrating big seasons last year. So we were celebrating also. We were doing some cartwheels and high fiving after that Independence Bowl game because it was a year that could have gone real south, and guys hung in there and somehow or another found a way to win the game."
On his age and how close he is to retiring:
"I don't know how close I came to walking away, but when you lose four out of five, and three of them we had a two- touchdown lead with four minutes to play...Those were some tough losses...So hopefully, people can understand, some losses are tougher than others, especially when you have a good lead and you can't hold it. But we're rejuvenated with the end, with the Bowl game, 7-6, huge win for our program, for me, for all of us."
"I really think the program I own helps to hang around a long time. Somebody said, why are you still coaching? I said, well, I forgot to get fired, and I'm not going to cheat. That's about the way you lose your job. You get fired for losing or you cheat, and then they get somebody else. So I've not done any of those to any extent big time, I guess. But I do get away probably more in the off-season than a lot of coaches. I know I workout more during the season than most all coaches. And I've got excellent assistant coaches. It's not near as stressful as maybe some people make it out to be. And I've got about my whole family right there in Columbia, so there's not a pull to be around grandkids all over the place as much. But the big thing is we're winning. That's the big thing. We're winning, and it's fun."
"Well, like I told people, I breezed right through age 60, breezed right through 65, and I'm going to try my best to breeze right on through 70. I can still remember just about everything. So mentally, I think I'm the same as I was. We got two people running for president, I think Hillary and Donald Trump are both 69, I believe. Coach K at Duke, he's still doing pretty good at, I think 69 also. So the age really doesn't mean a lot. The number on your years is not what's important. It's whether you can function physically, emotionally, mentally, get your team ready to play. That's what's important. We've got some goals there that we've not hit yet. That retirement thing, I don't think I'd be very good at it. I can go to the beach and stay four or five days, and, hey, let's get on out of here. We've been here long enough."
"When the recruits sign on, they're sort of looking you in the eye and saying, Coach, you know I'm signing on to play for you, don't you? That's what they're sort of saying. It's tough. It's tough to walk away from these guys. Now, if we go bad and they need a new coach there, then I'd be the first one to say, you need a new coach here. But right now I think the fans still like me there. I think all the records and so forth that we have there are still pretty good. Somebody told me the other day I'm the youngest coach in the SEC that's won four straight Bowl games. Did you know that? Youngest coach to have done that right now. You all knew that, didn't you?"
On the upcoming season:
"We're anxious and eagerly awaiting preseason practice. Players report August 3rd, and we play September 3rd, the Thursday night ESPN game in Charlotte against North Carolina Tar Heels. So we're looking forward to doing that. We've got some new defensive players. We'll have a new quarterback. Got a lot of new players across the board. But we're hoping to return to where we were the prior three years, a top ten team. We believe we have a fighting chance to do that."
"We're looking forward to this year though, we really believe we're gonna be a stronger team, especially one defense. Defensively we sorta gave up more yards and points than any team in South Carolina history and we got a new coach and some new players and we really believe we're gonna be a lot better defensively...So we think we're gonna be much improved, but we gotta go play and prove it."
On John Hoke joining the defensive staff:
"John was with me in Florida in 2001, 14 years ago. We led the SEC in total defense and in scoring defense that year...Anyway, after that year, I decided to go pro. I went to the NFL, and John Hoke went to the NFL. I lasted two years, and John Hoke lasted 13. So he's a lot smarter, better coach than I am. Yeah, he lasted 13 years. He's been with some really, really sharp defensive coaches."
On the quarterback situation:
"It hasn't been resolved. We've had three quarterbacks that rotated around during spring practice, and statistically in the spring game, they're very even. Percentage-wise, about the same, yards, touchdowns, all that. So we're going to keep competing during preseason practice. We've got a month before the first game. So we should be able to figure out who can play the best. Connor Mitch, good player. Perry Orth, Michael Scarnecchia. And we've got a freshman kid, Lorenzo Nunez, excellent runner, pretty good passer also. I know you can't get four ready to play, but we'll have maybe some plays for Lorenzo Nunez and the other guys. I've been a coach to play two quarterbacks. I think you all know that. And you can win with two. There's nothing in the rule book that says you have to have one. So if we do play more than one, it will be because both of them are about the same ability-wise."
"Yeah, [Pharoh Cooper] could step in there and play a bit if he had to. But these other guys, they're ready, they're gonna be ready to play. They've had a lot of snaps and they'll get a lot more before we go to Charlotte to play North Carolina. So they should be ready."
On Pharoh Cooper:
"We call him the South Carolina Pharoh, not the American Pharaoh, South Carolina Pharoh. But he's a really good player. He can play receiver, shotgun, quarterback, throw, run. He's really an All-American type player."
"You need to get the ball in the hands of your best players, we all know that. We've gotta use him as much as we can."
On Elliott Fry:
"Maybe one of the best kickers we've ever had in South Carolina. Maybe the best. He's a clutch kid. He's kicked many a good field goal to help us win some ball games."
"Elliott, he's a wonderful kicker...He's reliable, he's helped us win many a game. He's a crucial, really good player for us."
On the developing rivalry with Missouri:
"I really like Coach Pinkel...They do a super job, Missouri. I really think they maximize the talent that they have there. Their defense plays hard, tough, aggressive, gets a bunch of turnovers, and their offense does enough to win a whole bunch of ball games. For those guys to go 7-1 two years in a row and win the East, it's wonderful. It's a wonderful accomplishment for Missouri. We have that little trophy, what we call the Battle of Columbias, and they got it last year. They scored two at the end on us. But it's a nice little rivalry. We've only been playing them for three years. So it's not historic or anything like that."
On cost of attendance and whether it has an impact on recruiting:
"I guess we'll find out in February when they sign. Commitment-wise, we've got a few, probably normal around the country. But we're a little bit above the average, I think. We're right around $4,200 and so forth. So we've learned that whatever it is, it is. We're not going to argue or cry about it. If some schools can give a little bit more, so be it. Supposedly, the federal government regulates this. The chief financial officer at each school sets the number, and that's just the way it is. Let's go play ball. We're not going to worry about it. We're going to get our athletes that $4,209, I think is what it was. So we'll live with it."
On Clowney and how to treat top recruits:
"You handle them a little differently. As Coach John Wooden used to say, he treats everybody the way they deserve to be treated. Every now and then, I'll tell the player, are we going to have to put you on the Clowney program? But no, he was fine. He was fine most of the time. He had some little nagging injuries that prevented running after practice, things of that nature, but he was such a marvelous athlete, he really -- when the ball was snapped, he was the best. Sometimes you have a different program, but as long as they produce during the ball games, I think all the teammates understand that, hey, he's going to be there when the ball game starts and go from there."
"Leaders are always players who play a lot and lead by example. You've got to play a lot and play well, then you've got a chance to be a leader. That's just sort of my opinion. We've had some backup guys who like to scream and yell in the locker room, and I tell his assistant coach, tell him nobody's listening to him. You've got to tone it down a little bit. You have to be a good player. You have to be a good player and say, come on, let's go, guys."
On violence against women:
"Somebody asked me earlier, Coach, you all haven't had any problems in some time at South Carolina. What are you doing differently? I've always had a rule as a coach that, if you ever hit a girl, you're finished. We've lost two at South Carolina. Fortunately, they were not star players. If it they were star players, it would have gone all over the country. So we quietly got them to transfer or leave or what have you. So our players know, if they ever hit a girl, they're not going to play at South Carolina. And we enforce that rule. Other than that, we've probably had our share of little things here and there, but nothing too bad. Most of our problems have not been starters or star players."
On the tragedy in Charleston and the Confederate flag:
"Well, it was a tragedy, obviously, nine innocent people to be killed like that. I applaud our Governor for setting the initiative to remove the flag, and obviously it was received very well by just about everyone in our state and around the country. Obviously, all of us in college sports, we know the importance of equality, race relations, everybody getting along. So certainly, I think all the coaches all over -- I know all over South Carolina was happy and glad to see the flag come down."