Steve Spurrier's Turnaround: From Feared Genius to Babbling Old Man

Damon YoungCorrespondent IIOctober 12, 2011

COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 01:  Head coach Steve Spurrier watches on during their game against the Auburn Tigers at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

There was a time when Steve Spurrier was the most feared man in the SEC.

His Florida teams set the benchmark in the league, and more often than not, the road to Atlanta traveled through Gainesville, FL. 

That time seems light years away now as Spurrier is struggling to hold a South Carolina program together in his seventh season in Columbia.

Up until yesterday he had been just downright mediocre as the Gamecocks' head coach, but now he's becoming an embarrassment.

South Carolina fans are a proud bunch.

They stick with their team through thick and thin—and most times, it's the latter.

I'm sure most Gamecock fans are ecstatic with his tongue lashing of a certain reporter at his weekly press conference, Spurrier's outburst yesterday at reporter Ron Morris was both uncalled for and wrong.

Even if you aren't a fan of Morris' work he has the right to write what he wants, which leads me to the question: Why yesterday?

The article Spurrier claims offended him so much was published on March 25, 2011.

He had ample time to meet with Morris personally or go after him on countless radio shows and interviews in the seven months following the article's publication.

Does Spurrier need reminding that he is in fact a state employee? He is not employed by a private entity or some corporation where they can hand-pick who their message goes to and how.

Gene Smith, the Ohio State University athletic director, attempted to choose media that were "close to the university" for a presser back in July regarding Ohio State's response to the NCAA.

Smith even ignored the university's flagship station 97.1 The Fan.

If South Carolina and Ohio state want to control the message that is fine. That is not a new practice.

Universities hire outside help like PR firms to craft their message however they like it.

Attempting to control the messenger is whole other issue.

South Carolina is a state run school which means it thrives on public dollars.

Many coaches keep a close watch on the message and how it goes out. No one keeps a thumb on the voice of their program like Nick Saban at Alabama. Some would say it's a rather annoying thumb, but in the end everyone is treated equally. 

Every outlet is granted the same amount of access no matter how much or how little.

Yes, Spurrier has the right to not talk to anyone, but then no one, not even "you TV guys" should be granted access.

That is fine, but last time I checked South Carolina hasn't won an SEC title in, well, ever. In fact, their greatest accomplishment in the league is getting thumped by Auburn in the championship game last season.

That being said, Spurrier needs the coverage since the play on the field really hasn't spoken volumes.

One theory I was hearing on radio shows yesterday is that Spurrier was deflecting criticism to the reporter to take the spotlight off his lousy resume in Columbia.

He himself didn't boot Stephen Garcia off the team. Garcia was allegedly dismissed because he failed an alcohol test which he was required to undergo as a condition of his reinstatement to the team.

It's quite sad really.

Quarterbacks used to flock to play under Spurrier, but not he has to make exception after exception, five total, to try and keep a poor excuse for a student athlete in Stephen Garcia on the team.

I personally used to respect Steve Spurrier as did many, but that sentiment is becoming harder to find at this particular time.

Will be ever be able to turn it around?


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