Steve Spurrier Will Have to Deal with Jadeveon Clowney Headache Indefinitely

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 7, 2013

Whether it be with a friend, family member, loved one or colleague, we've all been in South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier's shoes at some point.

Sometimes, you just have to deal with someone who's being a little high-maintenance, as appears to be the case with Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

The junior from Rock Hill, S.C. sat out South Carolina's 35-28 win over Kentucky on Saturday night with a strained muscle around his ribs, according to Josh Kendall of The State. That injury puts his status for this week's Arkansas game in question.

However, his absence won't be a surprise. 

January 1,2013; Tampa, FL, USA;  South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier against the Michigan Wolverines during the second half of the 2013 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. South Carolina won 33-28. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Spurrier and the South Carolina coaching staff were surprised by Clowney's absence last week and were only notified of the late scratch shortly before kickoff.

“It was just we didn’t know he wasn’t playing until right before the game,” Spurrier said, according to Kendall. “That is always a little frustrating. Usually the trainer or doctor comes and tells you this guy is out, and that did not happen last night. But on the other side if a player is in pain and can’t play, I don’t want him to play. None of us do."

It's the third time this season Clowney has complained of ailments.

In the Gamecocks' opener versus North Carolina, Clowney looked gassed midway through the second quarter. It was learned after the game that he had been suffering from a stomach virus leading up to the contest, according to CBS Sports, and couldn't hold any food down.

ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Jadeveon Clowney #7 of the South Carolina Gamecocks pressures Blake Bortles #5 of the Central Florida Knights during a game at Bright House Networks Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.  South Carolina won the ga
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Following their narrow escape over UCF late in September, Clowney again played through a virus, as reported by Yahoo! Sports.

There's a trend developing.

When asked if Clowney is fully committed to the Gamecocks on Sunday, Spurrier deflected to his star player.

COLUMBIA, SC - AUGUST 29:  Jadeveon Clowney #7 of the South Carolina during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on August 29, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

“You will have to ask him that," Spurrer said, according to The State. "I can’t speak for Jadeveon.”

Whether Clowney's got one foot out the door and is thinking about the NFL or is legitimately banged-up, it's clear that the uncertainty of his status and effort every week is weighing on his coach. 

That doesn't mean Spurrier should pull the plug. Whether he's injured, high-maintenance or something in between, he's still Jadeveon Clowney—a player who can directly impact the game even if he doesn't litter the stat sheet with crooked numbers.

Dealing with high-maintenance players isn't a new phenomenon for Spurrier. His soap opera with former quarterback Stephen Garcia was well-chronicled. However, Garcia was expendable, and Clowney is not.

Until Clowney becomes a distraction to the team, his uncertain status from week-to-week is just something Spurrier and the South Carolina staff is going to have to deal with. 

When he's in the game, he's still a force, whether he's taking plays off or not. No, he hasn't ripped an opposing player's helmet off yet, nor has he hit a running back so hard it makes the inside of your living room shake.

That doesn't matter.

Opponents ran 52 of 64 plays away from Clowney when he was on the field during the first two games of the season, according to the SEC Network, and that's not going to change once he gets back into the lineup. 

That's a huge advantage to the Gamecocks, even if his heart isn't totally into the college game. 

Every player has to be treated in a different way, and Clowney's no exception. Tapping out of a game at the last minute with an injury that was known leading up to the game isn't enough to push Spurrier over the edge. 

Even if the excuses continue, it probably isn't. Maintaining Clowney is cearly a headache for Spurrier, and one that doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon.