If you’re looking for a solid indicator of how Steve Spurrier feels about his ball team’s prospects for the upcoming season, just listen to the Ol’ Ball Coach talk. Specifically, listen to how the South Carolina head coach talks about — or take jabs at — the opposition.
Using that theory, and based on one interview, Spurrier is feeling pretty damn frisky about the 2012 edition of his Gamecocks.
In a wide-ranging talk with ESPN.com SEC blogger Chris Low, the OBC was asked about his counterpart at defending national champion Alabama and a change in schedule involving Georgia. Like a middle schooler with a pair of pigtails dangling in front of him, Spurrier simply couldn’t resist giving a little tug to both.
First, when asked about his thoughts on Nick Saban and the job he’s done at Alabama:
““He’s got a nice little gig going, a little bit like Calipari. He tells guys, ‘Hey, three years from now, you’re going to be a first-round pick and go.’ If he wants to be the greatest coach or one of the greatest coaches in college football, to me, he has to go somewhere besides Alabama and win, because they’ve always won there at Alabama.”
That’s right, Spurrier tweaked Saban by comparing him to Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, who’s roundly criticized on most fronts for bringing in five-star recruits as one-and-done’s before they shuffle off to the NBA. Three Tide players — Trent Richardson, Dont’a Hightower and Dre Kirkpatrick — left school early for April’s NFL draft. The Gamecocks? Spurrier had two make the early leap — Alshon Jeffery and Stephon Gilmore.
Of course, picking that particular nit wouldn’t much faze Spurrier — who may or may not have been shirtless for the interview — or impact his decision to mildly tweak Saban with a Calipari comparison.
As if that weren’t enough, Spurrier in that three-sentence quote said, in essence, that just about anybody could win in Tuscaloosa, conveniently forgetting the likes of the two Mikes — Shula and DuBose — as the prime recent arguments against his thesis.
And, believe it or not, that wasn’t even the biggest tweak of the conversation. Rather, Spurrier saved that for long-time rival Georgia when asked about the UGA-USC game being moved to later on in the season from its normal slot the second weekend:
“I don’t know. I sort of always liked playing them that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.”
Somewhere, Stephen Garcia is having himself a good chuckle. And a lukewarm PBR.
Someone else having a good chuckle? The man in charge of the program the barb was directed at.
“How bout that. I think that’s funny. That sounds like Steve,” said an apparently amused UGA head coach Mark Richt, who sports a 4-3 mark against the Bulldogs’ SEC East rival since Spurrier became head coach.
Love him, hate him or utterly despise him, the game of college football’s a better one when the OBC is involved — and yanking chains. Somewhat related to that topic, Spurrier also addressed how long he intends to stay on the sidelines with visor in the fully-cocked position. As usual, the 66-year-old coach (he’ll turn 67 April 20th) wouldn’t pin himself down to a precise timeline for stepping away, although he did hint to a high school recruit that he’ll be around for a few more years.
““I used to think 60 [when he would retire]. When I was 55, I’d say four or five more years. When I got to 60, I’d say four or five more. And when I got to 65, I started saying three or four more. I’ll tell you what. We had a good-looking quarterback come through on Junior Day, and I wrote him a letter and said, ‘If you come here, you might extend my coaching career two or three years.’ ”
Here’s to hoping that career extension comes with or without landing the unnamed QB prospect.