Steve Spurrier is a lot of things.
- He is most certainly not subtle.
- He is most certainly not shy about being who he is.
This makes him a polarizing figure in today's world of calculated responses and deflection. What you see is what you're gonna get with the HBC. No filter. No sugar-coating. No mysteries. He's wide-open for business 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
Over his past ten seasons in Columbia, he's made history, broken records, and changed the face of Carolina Football forever, but he's also left us some lasting memories of classic Spurrier controversy. From comments and opinions to play-calls and in-game antics, the Head Ball Coach is never going to not be controversial.
So, we decided to count down the best (or most controversial) moments from the past ten seasons.
Time is a Flat Circus
2013 was a great year, but if things in Neyland Stadium had gone a teeny-tiny bit different it could've been even better. Carolina, while not dominating, was clearly the better team. However, in the fourth quarter, the offense sputtered, Mike Davis only ran the ball once, and the Gamecocks found themselves facing a 4th-down from inside their own 30-yard line. For reasons unbeknownst to you, me, or the man-in-the-moon, Coach Spurrier burned two timeouts before making up his mind, and we were forced to helplessly watch the Vols make a field-goal just as time expired that would win the game, 23-21, and more importantly ruin the Gamecocks' SEC Championship hopes. We would go on to play arguably one of the best football games in USC history the next week, but it was this bizarre Saturday in Knoxville that kept the 2013 season from being historic.
Once upon a time, there was a sportswriter that decided to take personal offense to Connor Shaw's participation in a game against UAB because he was hurt. That sportswriter stopped just short of calling Coach Spurrier a piece of excrement for allowing an injured player to play, despite the fact that it was Shaw that begged Coach to put him in the game despite the HBC's insistence that Connor not play. What followed was a rather weird situation that involved calling out Ron on his radio show, and a series of events aimed at prohibiting him from covering Gamecock sports. We all understand the media can be a pain in the butt sometimes (I mean, we should know, we ARE the pain in the butt) but this situation had people all over the place in a tizzy for months.
As the most infamous character to play for the Garnet and Black since a dude named Taneyhill, you knew that Stephen Garcia's time at Carolina was gonna be a wild one, but nobody could've guessed exactly how wild that ride would turn out to be. Multiple infractions, arrests, and legendary stories about all-night parties before huge games later, the HBC made the decision to dismiss the man that slayed Alabama following a positive alcohol test. While he cannot be faulted for sticking to his guns, letting Stephen Garcia go was a really bold maneuver.
"If he doesn't want to play, he doesn't have to play"
Jadeveon Clowney's final season in Columbia was a series of ups-and-downs both on and off the field for the eventual #1 draft pick in the NFL. Musings about Clowney's commitment to playing his final season and avoiding injury abounded, his play seemingly muted by more than offensive-line double teams and schemes built around containing him so as to prevent a Volume II of 'The Hit'. Following the Kentucky game, in which JD did not play due to a rib injury, Coach Spurrier was asked about his absence, to which Spurrier responded,
"If he wants to play, we'll welcome him to come play for the team if he wants to. But if he doesn't want to play, he doesn't have to. Simple as that."
Needless to say, this didn't go over well, and everyone from Paul Finebaum to your cousin that's a Clemson fan began piling on Clowney's work ethic and Coach Spurrier's "class". Foot in mouth? sure. Mean spirited? Not a chance. The HBC just says what's on his mind, no matter what the consqeuences.
Last season had its fair share of highs-and-lows. One of them came at home against an opponent that has proven to be more than just a thorn in the Gamecocks' sides over the past few seasons: Missouri. At home, the Gamecocks had dug deep and put together a great performance considering where it had been not even the week previous. South Carolina put the ball in the endzone with less than eight minutes remaining in the game to go up 19-7. We elected to kick an extra point that would prove to be a costly error. Following the mind-numbing 21-20 loss, coach Spurrier was asked why he didn't go for the 2-point conversion. His response: he wasn't paying attention and should've probably gone for two. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be the last time that the HBC lost his marbles in the fourth quarter of a game last year.
The disappearing HBC
After the second-straight horrifying loss at home nursing a double-digit lead last season, the HBC made like Snagglepuss and exited his press conference, stage left.
This was a low point for the season, thank goodness we survived it.
Auburn 2011 or OOPS WE LOST OUR OFFENSE AND OUR DEFENSE
This game makes me sad. The way we lost this game makes me furious. It makes ChickenHoops so mad he still can't even talk about it. This was a football team that had given up more than 600 yards to Clemson two-weeks prior. This was a top-10 Gamecock team playing for its first ever win over the Auburn Tigers, and for revenge against the SEC Championship game the year before. This was a team that had contained Auburn at every turn until their final drive when Phillip Lutzenkirchen caught a touchdown pass to take the lead, 16-13. This, though, would be a game that saw confusing offensive play-call after confusing offensive play-call, and ended in a strange slant route to Bruce Ellington in which his knee stayed in-bounds and the clock expired with the Gamecocks in field goal range. Come to think of it, I'm not over this one, either.
"2-3 more years"
Last December, coach made a remark about his coaching future at South Carolina:
"Give me two or three more (years)," Spurrier told The State. "I used to say four or five, now I'm down to two or three. I mean, I could get in a car wreck, but I'm definitely planning on being back."
Again, just Spurrier telling you exactly what he was thinking at exactly that time, he sometimes feels differently about how long he could be coaching, and that last season was frustrating enough to make anybody seriously consider their future, but his remarks sent shockwaves through the recruiting class, and caused a firestorm surrounding the HBC's future in Columbia. He's since reaffirmed his commitment to the University and the football program, but the damage of a frank remark was already done.
"Let me tell y'all about Atilla the Hun"
A few weeks ago, Coach Spurrier called an impromptu presser in the lobby of the USC football offices. He made some remarks about his re-commitment to coach at the University for at least six more years, and answered doubts about his future as a college coach. He then took time to quote Atilla the Hun a few times, and began to lecture about how people only really like you if you don't win a whole bunch of football games. He was being honest, once again, but it was another example of how the HBC gets under people's skin like nobody else in the college football world.
"We sure ain't Clemson"
It's kinda fitting that the most memorable controversy in Steve Spurrier's time actually came from a misattributed thing that somebody blew out of proportion that the HBC never even said, but, these are the things that happen when you're Steve Spurrier. What happened next was a tweet sent from USC's official account that credited Spurrier with Todd Ellis' comment. Apparently, this tweet sent Dabo Swinney into a tirade of crazy like nobody has ever seen. Spurrier didn't even do anything, but we got to watch Dabo turn into a meme. Print that. Tweet that.
Bobby Johnson's Vanderbilt team beat us at home in one of the most mediocre offensive football games I've ever watched from a South Carolina team, much less one coached by Steve Spurrier. The game made no sense from the get-go, we lost to a Vanderbilt team that only had 268 total yards of offense, and we never even sniffed the end-zone. Can we vote to delete this game?
How could we leave off one of the most hilarious NCAA Violations of all-time? You're right, we couldn't. While it was never fully cleared up whether or not the compliance department was just messing with the NCAA, what was clear was that the HBC thought the cookie cakes from Great American Cake Company would be the perfect gift for recruits. We agree. They certainly appreciated the business.