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July 16, 2013

Steve Spurrier


KEVIN TRAINOR:  We're now joined by the head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks, Coach Steve Spurrier.
COACH SPURRIER:  Thank you.  I appreciate you guys hanging around late in the day here.
But a few things I'd like to get with early before we talk about South Carolina football.
We have our head coaches meetings every year in Destin, May 27, 28.  It seems like a lot of years we don't tell you what we talk about and so forth.  I would like to briefly tell you some things that our SEC head football coaches and our basketball coaches also voted on, 14‑0, 14‑0 that we should do in college sports.
Now, this is us coaches talking.  It's something that I believe in.
We came up with a proposal, I know the Commissioner has his proposals, but we would like for our college football and basketball players that bring in an enormous amount of money, $1 billion March Madness this year, football, we all know the numbers.  We believe those two sports, the income producers, those players, most of them come from lower‑income families, that we should provide some expense money so their parents can go to the games, lodging, travel, meals, what have you.
We're only talking about $300 a game, basketball would be a little less.  But where the players in the course of the year would have $3600, $3900, depending on how many games you play, just to have a little bit of pocket money and their parents to have money to come to the games.  We all voted 14‑0, that's all of us coaches, Nick Saban, Mark Richt, Kevin Sumlin, all the basketball coaches agreed that their players deserved a little bit also.  They could pro rate that out where the basketball players got $3600, $3900.  This is tiny compared to the money that's coming in now.  I think we all know that.
I'm going to keep fighting for our guys.  I don't know what will come.  If President Obama would say, Spurrier, you and those coaches need to quit fighting for your players, that they get enough, they get enough full scholarship, then I'll shut up about it.  But I just believe that these athletes, because of the enormous amount, just a little bit to help out with their parents watching games and so forth.
Okay, that was our little talk about expenses.  This is not pay‑for‑play.  Please don't say, Spurrier says pay‑for‑play.  This is just expense money.  I saw the other day this year, the NFL rookies, the minimum is $405,000, NFL rookie.  And a third‑year kid, $630,000.  That's pay‑for‑play.  Don't disguise or say $300 for expenses for a game, that's not pay‑for‑play.  Just some expense money for our guys to live a little bit better, and their parents, guardians, whatever.
Us coaches, if it was a financial burden for our universities, our coaches all offered to pay for it, all 14.  It came up to $270,000, $280,000 a year for the coaches.  We'd pay it all.  We want our players to get a little bit more than they get.
Another thing that came up, we were sitting there talking about the new four‑team playoff.  Mr. Hancock, who is on the committee, to try to tell us how it's all going to work out.  The committee is going to name the four teams, this, that and the other.  He said they were sitting with the commissioners of our BCS conferences and the athletic director of Notre Dame.  Somebody said, Why was he there?  He's equal with all the commissioners.  We just started trying to figure out why the athletic director of Notre Dame is equal to all the conference commissioners.  Nobody had a good answer except that's the way it's always been done.
For whatever reason, all 14 of our head coaches thought that Notre Dame should join the ACC and play football like all the rest of us.  They're in a conference.  I know the Notre Damers will get mad at me and us coaches maybe for saying that.  If you were a Notre Damer, you would say, We're supposed to be independent in football, always, this, that and the other.  From all of the rest of us that are in a conference, we say, Why aren't they in a conference?  It's sort of hard to figure out why they have their own conference.
They're sort of in the ACC.  I know it's probably not going to happen, won't happen because I said it, but maybe if you can give me a good reason why they're not in a good conference with all the rest of the schools, that's something we talked about right there.
Okay, we all voted 14‑0 they ought to be in a conference (smiling).  All 14 coaches, Nick Saban, Mark Richt, Les Miles, we all voted on that.
Briefly talking about schedules.  Commissioner has his schedule.  Some of the other commissioners felt like it's not always fair.  It's not always fair.  We know that.  We know that last year Alabama, Georgia played for the conference championship.  Alabama did not play the three top teams in the east and Georgia did not play the three top teams in the west.  Scheduling does make a difference.  How to make it fair, we're not all exactly sure how to do it.
But LSU and Florida I think have the most legitimate gripe of all of us.  Since they play each other, they're annually top‑10 teams.  That's tough on both those schools.
There was a suggestion that your division games would count for the division winner unless there was a tie, then you would go to the out‑of‑division games to try to determine the winner.  I don't know how far that will go.
I can understand some teams have a lot tougher schedule year in and year out than other schools.  For the sake of fairness, whatever is the best way to do it is the way we would like to do it as coaches.
We're not so sure right now that everybody has the same thing.  So I wanted to mention that.  The Big 12, they all play each other.  10 teams, they all play each other.  That's pretty doggone fair.  You get co‑champs that way, which they had this year with Oklahoma and Kansas State.  We would like to see the most fair way for determining the champion.  If you only count the division games, that team should be the division champ, but it could go the other way.
All right.  That's what we talked about.
Now, talking a little bit about South Carolina.  We got a pretty good team, I think.  I don't know how good.  We returned a lot of guys on offense.  We lost a lot of defensive players, linebackers, strong safety, D.J. Swearinger, so forth.  We think we got some young players ready to step up and contribute.
Two good quarterbacks, Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson.  They both played in a bowl game, threw a couple touchdowns, threw for over 150 yards, I think.  They combined to help us beat Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
Wide receivers, tight ends, got a couple good tight ends.  Runningbacks, we got a lot of good players.  Whether or not we're going to be a great team, really good team, only time will tell.
Obviously, Jadeveon Clowney is a disruptive player that every offense has to sort of change their blocking assignments to account for Jadeveon.  He's a very good player.  I think he told me he ran a 4.4 40 the other day at the end of the summer workouts.  He's ready to go.  If we're going to have a good year, Jadeveon has to make a lot of those big plays.  He's made a lot of big ones the first two years at South Carolina.
Other than that, we don't have a lot of pre‑season All‑American guys except for Jadeveon, but got a lot of really good players.  It's been sort of neat watching our players develop and the way they train now.  They train like champions.  They go to everything.  They go on time.  Hopefully it will pay off in a conference championship.
We know we're not favored to win it, but we think we're going to have a team capable, capable if everything works out, some guys really come around, get a break or two.  That's something we've not done at South Carolina, is won a conference championship, and we have hopes to do it.
We're going to try our best to see if we can make it happen this year.  It won't be easy, of course.  We may fall flat on our face, but that's what we're going to try to do, try to win the conference.
Okay, any questions?
KEVIN TRAINOR:  We'll open it up for questions for Coach Spurrier.

Q.  Could you just talk about Jadeveon, keeping his head on straight.  Obviously he's gotten a lot of publicity in the off‑season.
COACH SPURRIER:  Jadeveon has done an excellent job staying out of the limelight all summer.  He's been a good teammate.  He's been there for the workouts.  He's been there doing what he's supposed to do.  He's actually a little lighter than he was at the end of last year, I think he told me.  He's going to be ready to go.
Individual awards, obviously he's up for all of them that a defensive lineman can be up for.  Individual awards are nice, but hopefully most important thing for him is helping us win an SEC.  That would be the highlight for all of us if that were to happen.

Q.  Do you like the Thursday night format?  You played in a lot of those games.  How does that affect your practice schedule‑ this year, especially giving you nine days to get ready for that first SEC game against Georgia?
COACH SPURRIER:  Yeah, we like Thursday night, opening the season particularly.  You get to practice two more days than everybody else.  You come in two days earlier than the rest of the guys that open up on Saturday.  They don't take away those two days, Friday and Saturday.  We don't do much on those days.
You do gain a couple days by opening up Thursday night.
We're not in school at that time, so nobody's missing class.  In the middle of the year it's not as much fun.  It's not as comfortable for the university in the middle of the year.  But to open up the season, yeah, we like Thursday night.

Q.  Any possibility at all that Clowney could play a little bit on offense?
COACH SPURRIER:  Not really.  We got a bunch of offensive players that are pretty good.  He played a little bit in high school, though.  He's capable.  He's capable of running with the ball.  But that wouldn't make sense, running with a ball, sprain an ankle, be standing over there with me the rest of the season.  That wouldn't be very smart.
He's pretty good about staying out of pile‑ups, things like that.  Important for him to stay healthy.

Q.  Could you talk about Connor Shaw.  How ready is he after missing the spring?  With Ellington, as well.
COACH SPURRIER:  Missing spring I think may help Connor a little bit.  He had a stress fracture in his back that healed up completely.  Then he had surgery on his foot, another stress fracture, they did surgery on.  So he's ready to go.
He was able to sort of watch during spring ball.  Stand behind the quarterbacks, watch all the pass skill, all that kind of stuff.  He thinks sort of standing back there watching, watching the defense may help him a little bit.
He's really a good player.  He can play runningback, receiver.  I was telling one of the guys in there, we probably put two quarterbacks on the field at the same time.  Connor could switch out to wide receiver.  Heck, he could play runningback if we wanted him to do that.  He's solid and he can carry the ball, take a pounding.
Dylan has developed into a good drop‑back passer.
We got to make sure we use both of 'em to the best we can.

Q.  You had a great season last year.  Only team to really dominate Georgia.  A two‑game stint away from a spot in the championship game.  What is your squad's attitude like coming into this season after coming so close?
COACH SPURRIER:  I don't know exactly what our attitude is.  We haven't started practice yet.  But they've been very good during the summer, from what I understand.  We haven't had many misses at all.  So the commitment level right now seems to be very good.

Q.  What is your philosophy on turning in schools for what you would consider a minor NCAA violation, and would you ever turn in the Gators for a minor violation?
COACH SPURRIER:  We have probably turned in some people here and there.  We just turn it into our compliance and say, Can they do that?  Then they turn it into the league office here.  I think that's how we do it.
But if somebody was obviously breaking the rules, I would hope they would turn us in if we were obviously breaking the rules, anybody.  I'm not big on breaking rules if you know you're obviously breaking rules.
We accidentally break some as far as talking to a kid one day, he's playing basketball that night, you didn't know he was.  I think that was my last violation.

Q.  Would you turn in the Gators for a violation like that?
COACH SPURRIER:  Like that?  Probably not that (smiling).
If they were obviously doing something, we were obviously doing something, I would hope they'd turn us in.  Usually go through the league office is the way.  Yeah, we don't turn a lot of people in anyway.  You can't ever condone breaking the rules on purpose, though.  We don't condone that with anybody.

Q.  You've always talked about bringing an SEC Championship to South Carolina.  Do you feel like this year's team, given the schedule and all the factors, is your best shot at that?
COACH SPURRIER:  Well, the last three years, we've been sort of up there in the hunt.  We got there three years ago, fell flat on our face against Auburn.  Then the last two years, we were one game away maybe from getting into the SEC game.
So we're sort of knocking at the door.  But we need to win those crucial games and see what happens.

Q.  In the past you've said you prefer to play Georgia early in the season because you can always count on them having a key guy suspended.  With that being the case this year, what can you say about this year's matchup with Georgia and why have you been able to game plan against them so well in recent years?
COACH SPURRIER:  We've been pretty fortunate.  Last year Georgia, they didn't play very well at all.  The first play of the game, their kid was getting ready to intercept it, and Damiere Byrd sort of plucked it out of their hands, we went down and scored.  Everything went our way the first half, second half.  But then they came back.  So you got to give Georgia credit.
We've beaten them the last two years, then they've won all their conference games.  That game is important, but it didn't determine the division champion.  So we're going to try to beat 'em like we always do, and they're going to try to beat us.  But should be a heck of a game.
But that one's after North Carolina.  We're worried about the Tar Heels right now.  That's our next one.

Q.  Do you anticipate playing both quarterbacks every game?  Is that sort of the plan?  How big a luxury is it to have two guys that have started?
COACH SPURRIER:  Yeah, I think they're both very good players and capable.  Whether or not we're going to play both of 'em and how we do it, I don't know.  I really don't know.
Historically when I've had two quarterbacks to help us win, last time was way back in 2000 when Rex Grossman and Jesse Palmer rotated around.  Usually Rex would go good for a while, then he'd go bad.  Jesse would come in, go for a while, then Rex was ready to come back in.  Each of them played in four victories and we won the conference with an 8‑1 record.
I don't know how it's going to play out.  They're both capable.  They both like playing.  They both like each other.  I think they're roommates and all that.  Hopefully they've got confidence in the coach putting them in and out.  Hopefully it's going to work out.
One guy will have an opportunity.  Just like when we went to play Clemson this year, last game of the season.  I said, Dylan, it's your game tonight, let's go the distance.  Connor's foot was bothering him.  Though he said he could have played, he wasn't quite 100%, so...

Q.  Five years ago you brought in Ellis Johnson to be your defensive coordinator.  Improved fairly quickly.  Now that he's at Auburn, do you think he can replicate the success he had with you at Auburn?  How did he sell you on the 4‑2‑5 system at the time when he was with you at South Carolina?
COACH SPURRIER:  If he's got the players that we had, certainly he's got a chance to do it.  Melvin Ingram first‑round pick at SanDiego, Stephon Gilmore, first‑round pick, Buffalo Bills.  We've had a lot of good players at South Carolina.  If he's got that kind of talent, he can be pretty good.  I'll put it that way.

Q.  We know the SEC schedule is brutal.  The Gamecocks always play Clemson every year, too.  You've also got the Tar Heels and a very tricky Central Florida on the schedule this year.  Looking at other's schedules around the league, you have one of the toughest.  Would you rather dial the non‑conference portion of the schedule or do you like your team being challenged a little bit more outside of the SEC?
COACH SPURRIER:  I think what we have schedule‑wise is about right.  We're always going to play Clemson.  They're our in‑state rival.  Our fans would rather us beat Clemson than anybody on the schedule.  We've only been in the conference, what, 21 years something like that now, and never won it.  They're happy if we beat Clemson last game of the season.  They're very happy when that happens.
But what our schedule does, we play another ACC team.  We've played NC State a lot.  Now we're playing North Carolina this year.  The Central Florida game, somehow I think they came to our place twice, we're going down there for one.
Then we think it's important to play one of the smaller schools in South Carolina, Furman, Wofford, this year it's Coastal Carolina.  They get a big paycheck.  South Carolina State.  Coaches say, Coach, thanks for playing us.  I always say, We gotta play somebody, why wouldn't we play you?  Get your program off and running, get some money.  Wofford almost beats us every year they come in there.  It was 7‑7 in the fourth quarter this year.  We were very fortunate to pull it out.
Furman gave us a battle.
It helps the smaller schools in our state get a big paycheck and they're appreciative we play them, very appreciative.

Q.  Could you compare Jadeveon with Jevon Kearse?
COACH SPURRIER:  A little bit.  A little bit.  Yeah, a little bit probably.  Jadeveon probably a little thicker than Jevon.  They're about the same height, quickness, speed, yeah.  A lot of similarities.

Q.  When we talk about Clowney, you talk about size, speed.  What is the part of his game that we're overseeing?
COACH SPURRIER:  Probably mainly his hustle.  His run from sideline to sideline.  A lot of teams try to run straight at him.  Actually, the Michigan game, they were trying the power‑play.  Their tight end I think was supposed to block down.  He didn't do it.  So he just split those guys.  That's how the hit occurred.  They messed up a blocking assignment.
A lot of people try to run straight at a player that is tremendous in pursuit, like Jadeveon is.  But his pursuit is the biggest thing.  Chasing ball carriers, quarterbacks, so forth.

Q.  Last year when you were here you mentioned if you were making the schedule, you'd be playing Ole Miss instead of Georgia and vice versa.  Coach Freeze didn't take too kindly to that.  This year Coach Freeze said he wore a visor in high school to emulate you and called you his good friend.  When did you have time to strike up this friendship in the past year?
COACH SPURRIER:  Well, last year at this time Ole Miss was 2‑10, that's why I made that statement (laughter).  They had a good year.  Hugh Freeze has done an excellent job there.
No, Hugh and I have a lot in common.  We both play golf.  We both wear visors.  We call the plays.  How could you not like a guy like Hugh Freeze?
You never know what team was bad one year that gets it going the next year.  I was just making a comment, somebody asked me about playing Arkansas after an open date.  Playing somebody, I don't know.  We don't make the schedule.  I don't make any schedules.  Sometimes we have a voice in our out‑of‑conference schedule, but none of our in‑conference schedules do we have a voice in.

Q.  You're starting your ninth season at South Carolina.  Could you ever have imagined when you first took the job that you would stay longer at South Carolina than Florida?
COACH SPURRIER:  I didn't think about that.  I did think I could go eight, nine, ten years.  I was at a booster club.  I think probably all feel you know the story.  I said my plan and goal is to be the winningest coach here.  It was only 65 wins.  If we could average about eight a year, maybe win nine one year, I could get to 65.
It worked out that we got 66.  Last two years we've added up well.  We were only averaging seven wins the first five years.  Then the last three years we've averaged a little over 10 a year.  11, 11, 9.
Yeah, I was hoping to be here eight to ten.  Now I'm hoping to be here 9 to 13, something like that, 9 to 12.  Something like that.
I have an excellent coaching staff.  I got guys that can recruit, coach, do everything.  It's not a stressful job for me as maybe some coaches have.  Summertime we get away from it a bit, get refreshed, ready to go during the season.
Burnout is not something I'm going to get, not unless we go real bad.  It can go real bad if you think it can't.  I know it can go real bad if we don't watch ourselves.  Hopefully it won't.

Q.  Commissioner Slive said as long as they're playing eight SEC games, in lieu of that, if and when the change is made, he would like to see every school play 10 BCS games.  Could you comment on the fairness of that.

Q.  Yes.
COACH SPURRIER:  We're playing that.  We're playing that.  So, yeah, I agree with that.  It's a good idea (smiling).
See, what happens in the SEC, there's four of us now that have in‑state rivals, now that Louisville, are they in the ACC this year or next year?

Q.  Next year.
COACH SPURRIER:  Next year.  Kentucky, they've got an in‑state game.  Georgia‑Georgia Tech, us‑Clemson, Florida‑Florida State.  That's four.  We've all got our ninth game.  All the other schools don't have one.  Some of them want to play nine conference games.  Some of them do, some of them don't.
It would be helpful to play 10 BCS schools, that makes sense, yes.

Q.  I heard you went back to Tennessee for your 50th high school reunion recently.  What was that like?
COACH SPURRIER:  It was sort of quiet (laughter).  I thought it was going to be a little louder.  Looked around at 9:30, half of them had already left.  I said, Where did everybody go?
It was a little quieter than I thought it would be.  It was actually a pretty good turnout.  But it was a little quieter than I thought it was going to be.  But that's okay.
All right.  Thank you.

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