We've had over a week to process the fact that Spurrier is gone and get over the shock of his sudden departure, so let's take a minute now to talk about the good times. What is your favorite memory of Spurrier's time at South Carolina? You can take this in any direction you want, so it can be something that the HBC himself said/did, a win that we got while he was the head coach, or anything else that you think fits.
The 2011 season. The offense was so explosive and every week it was amazing to watch the team put up great numbers against vaunted SEC defenses. When Marcus Lattimore went down though, I was completely shocked, stunned and couldn't believe what I was watching. Seeing the team rally back and still post an unbelievable season and finish in the Top 10 was incredible. Oh, and the 2012 33-28 Outback Bowl win over Michigan with Jadeveon Clowney's massive hit that went viral was also pretty cool.
There have been a lot of bigger wins in the years since, but for me, it's the 2007 Thursday night game against Kentucky. The Wildcats were undefeated and ranked No. 8 in the country at the time - led by then-Heisman frontrunner Andre Woodson. We seemed to have at least one Thursday night game a season the years I was at USC (‘05-'09) and the vibe around campus those Thursday night game weeks was incredible. And with a Top 15 matchup looming, the excitement the highest I'd seen in my time at USC. Classes let out early. Others were even canceled.The rain only added to the drama of the game, as Eric Norwood returned two fumbles for touchdowns and we dropped the Wildcats 38-23. This was the year we ultimately dropped our final five games and missed a bowl, but the anticipation for the game and the result is one I'll always remember. I like to think of this as the spiritual predecessor to the 2012 game against UGA. Similar excitement and result.
Steve Spurrier has provided South Carolina fans and college football fans with memorable quotes, play calls, and overall entertaining moments. It's almost too hard to pick one special moment from Spurrier's tenure at South Carolina. I would have to say my favorite Spurrier moment was whenever he would toy with Clemson and Dabo Swinney. With Spurrier, it was never just smack talk. He was always thinking ahead. The HBC was a fan of "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu. In the ancient Chinese military treatise, Tzu mentions, "The army cannot be mobilized by personal anger." When it came to Dabo, Spurrier just kept throwing out the same bait every time and Swinney would keep biting. Every little dig Spurrier had at Clemson, Dabo responded.
My favorite Clemson quote from Steve Spurrier is actually a response to Dabo Swinney after he read a quote after the 2011 loss versus South Carolina of what he thought was from Spurrier saying, "We aren't LSU and we aren't Alabama. But we sure ain't Clemson!" Former Gamecock QB and current Play-By-Play man Todd Ellis was the originator of that great quote. Dabo Swinney then went on his own rant about where he thinks the real USC, and the real Carolina is located. Spurrier then responded to Dabo with, "Well, what do you want me to do? I didn't say it.' Smart people don't believe everything they read, and they don't believe hearsay. ... I guess Dabo believed it."
Steve Spurrier always jabbed at other coaches or programs to add a little gamesmanship, and he did quite a few times with Dabo Swinney and Clemson. Did Dabo take anything Spurrier said personally? We probably won't ever know. I would say it's probably fair to assume that Dabo Swinney did take stuff personally with Spurrier by the amount of times he not only responded time and time again to Spurrier's small jabs, but also with the losses he accumulated while coaching against The HBC.
Despite the last season and a half and his sudden retirement, I still unreservedly adore Steve Spurrier. I know that him leaving was ultimately best for the program, but he's been the coach as long as I've really loved Carolina football and I miss him. There are tons of great moments from his time at South Carolina to choose from, but I'm going with one that's kind of random for my favorite. It was early December of 2013. Do y'all remember how great 2013 was? Sure, we were bummed out about missing the SECCG, but we had just won 10 games in the regular season again and were headed for a bowl game. Clowney, Shaw and Ellington were still around and we had just beaten Clemson for the 5th time in a row. Spurrier had led us to this period of excitement and achievement and was reliably entertaining in the media. This particular day Spurrier was in Florida (talking to Bianchi, I think) and made several digs against other programs, including Florida and Florida State. Everyone on twitter gleefully reported what he said and took a few shots of their own. That day will be how I always think about the Spurrier era. The HBC was taking shots at rivals and the Gamecocks were good and it was just fun to be a Carolina fan.