Steve Spurrier Downplays Georgia-South Carolina Rivalry, but Takes Subtle Jabs

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 4, 2013

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier
South Carolina head coach Steve SpurrierJeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia and South Carolina will square off "between the hedges" on Saturday with "front-runner" status in the SEC East on the line.

Over the last three seasons, South Carolina has one division title and two 11-win seasons while Georgia has two division titles and nearly played for the crystal football in 2012.

The one constant over those three seasons has been South Carolina's dominance over Georgia, as the Gamecocks have won three straight in the series.


You bet it is.

Only don't tell Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier that, because despite the division title implications and shared border, he doesn't consider the Bulldogs to be a rival.

"I just don't sense the hatred between Georgia and South Carolina that there is between Georgia and Florida," Spurrier said. "Georgia has so many rivals that it's difficult for them to have a big rivalry game every week. They've got as many as anybody in the country with Georgia Tech, Florida, Auburn, even Vanderbilt. They have a little bit of a rivalry going with Vanderbilt."

Spurrier has a point.

With "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate" (Georgia Tech), "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" (Florida) and "The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" (Auburn) on the docket every year, there are plenty of seasons that can be made by toppling the Bulldogs.

But Vanderbilt? Really?

Georgia has won six straight over the Commodores by a combined score of 202-72. Aside from the postgame dust-up between Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham a few years ago following some borderline hits, most of those games have been uneventful. On the list of Georgia's rivals, Vanderbilt only exists because it resides in the same division. 

That's it.

What angers Georgia fans more, Spurrier calling out Georgia or playing nice on game week? 

There's probably no answer to that question because from a Georgia perspective, it'd be choosing between the lesser of two evils. Spurrier saying Vanderbilt—one of the traditional bottom-feeders of the division—is a "rivalry" is the most subtle of jabs.

It's Spurrier being Spurrier in the most polite possible way.

Having too many rivals is better than the alternative, according to the Head Ball Coach.

"We don't have that many down here because we haven't beaten enough people to have rivalry-type games," he said. "It's difficult (for Georgia) because I'm at South Carolina. That's one of the big reasons."

Make no mistake by Spurrier downplaying the importance of this game. It's been the most important game in the East division for the last three seasons, and this meeting is no different. 

It isn't the biggest rivalry game for either program, but it still matters a lot to both sides. 

As long as Spurrier is the Head Ball Coach of the Gamecocks, that's not going to change.


*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand from Wednesday's SEC coaches teleconference.