Tag Archives: Steve Spurrier

Steve Spurrier, the Hlog Can’t Quit You

Thanks to the great college football site  http://www.thewizofodds.com/, we learned of an Atlanta Constitution-Journal story that’s not good news for Steve Spurrier.

The South Carolina coach and current owner of a 3-game losing streak can skip future trips to football power Tucker High School in Atlanta.

From the AJC story:

Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks are “no longer welcome” at Tucker High, one of the state’s top producers of college football prospects.

Tucker coach Franklin Stephens told the AJC of his proclamation after speaking with Spurrier on Sunday night. It had to do with Tucker linebacker Jonathan Davis, who had committed to South Carolina but was told on Friday that the Gamecocks had withdrawn the scholarship offer.

“The bottom line … what South Carolina did to Jonathan was wrong,” Stephens told the AJC. “Coach Spurrier accepted blame for the situation … [but he] is not going to do anything to fix the situation, therefore South Carolina will not be recruiting any more Tucker players.”

On Friday, Stephens had a “heated” conversation with Gamecocks assistant Shane Beamer, who ultimately said “South Carolina had to do what was in South Carolina’s best interests when it came to recruiting,” according to Stephens.

http://www.ajc.com/sports/content/shared-blogs/ajc/cfbrecruit/entries/2009/01/12/steve_spurrier.html

Ten Days After Outback Bowl, South Carolina Fans Are Steamed

Take a look at the letters to the sports section in today’s The State, the daily newspaper of Columbia, S.C.

What you see is disappointment. Disgust. Disillusionment.

The people of Gamecock Universe (every fan group calls itself a Nation, so I took it one further) aren’t pleased with Steve Spurrier’s football program, the one that Iowa walked all over in the Outback Bowl.

The link to Thestate.com for this not-so-lighthearted reading:

http://www.thestate.com/gogamecocks/story/646376.html?RSS=gogamecocks

Speaking of the SEC …

New Auburn football coach Gene Chizik says he’s committed to recruiting in-state in this blog on Al.com:

http://blog.al.com/goldmine/2009/01/auburn_recruiting_names_and_st.html

Imagine that. Someone I know attended a Chizik talk when Chizik was Iowa State’s coach. He said Chizik was asked if he was going to recruit more Iowa kids. He said Chizik’s reply was “We’re going to recruit athletes.”

At Iowa State, like at Iowa and Northern Iowa, you have to do both. New Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads seems to be fully aware of that.

Hlas Column From Iowa’s Outback Bowl Savaging of South Carolina

The logo of the day in Raymond James Stadium

The logo of the day in Raymond James Stadium

TAMPA, Fla. — The last time Iowa had won a bowl game, it did so with a lightning bolt of a 56-yard pass that erased the team’s short-circuitry in that game’s fourth-quarter.

The 30-25 win over LSU in Orlando four years ago souped up hype for 2005 that never came close to fruition. It was the last thing to happen to the Hawkeyes’ program that was both big and good, until this season.

On the first day of January 2009, Iowa won a bowl against another SEC team. It wasn’t by plucking it out of the sky with a last-second miracle, but by using 60 minutes of substance. Rock-solid substance.

It won’t make the kind of instant lore that Drew Tate-to-Warren Holloway created, and it won’t become a poster that will hang on walls of rec rooms in Iowa homes for decades.

But you know what? It’s better.

The Hawkeyes brought Hawkeye football to Raymond James Stadium Thursday, at the expense of a completely outmanned, outworked South Carolina squad. The score was 31-10. The game was over well before halftime.

Iowa didn’t surprise Steve Spurrier’s team a bit with what it did on either side of the ball. It just did it. And did it, and did it, and did it.

It was Kirk Ferentz football. It was Hawkeye football. Like all programs, Iowa’s is a fragile ecosystem. But when Ferentz’s players are the right ones and of the right minds, as they were in 2001 through 2004, the system works.

“We had a dip at the end of the 2006 season,” Ferentz said after Thursday’s triumph. “I’ve said many times on record that it’s probably the toughest six weeks I’ve gone through.”

Iowa went from 5-1 to 6-6 that fall, losing its last five Big Ten games. It began a two-year run of genuinely mediocre football accompanied by off-field problems that were far worse than the losing. Ferentz made a lot of most-overpaid coaches’ lists. His name and “hot seat” shared a lot of sentences.

Back in Iowa, you no longer saw a halo over the coach’s head. It looked like we might be watching a man spinning his wheels as some of his players tarnished the reputation of the program and university with some bad trouble away from the stadium.

So what did Ferentz do? Fire some assistants, abandon his beliefs, turn away from the core of who he was and what he had established in search of a quick fix?

Nah. The guy is old-school in a lot of ways, and dealing with problems with common sense and focus rather than throwing people under a bus is one of them. Getting players to represent their school better on and off the gridiron was another.

It sounds like cornball stuff, sure. But it is Iowa, after all.

The Hawkeyes were 3-3 halfway through this regular-season. Why no blame-games from players? Why no cave-in from a team that knew too well what it was like to see a season disintegrate?

“I think it’s just been responding,” said senior center Rob Bruggeman, the subject of quarterback Rick Stanzi’s raves (”Great line calls. He makes everything easier.”) after the game.

“You never focus on the negative and just try to turn it into a positive,” Bruggeman said. “We had a stretch where we lost three games in the middle of the season, and there was never a negative attitude in the locker room. Nobody was pointing fingers.

“I think it started in the off-season. We came together as a team, decided we weren’t going to get down on each other, we were going to stay positive the whole season. We just focused on that.”

The right attitude requires putting in the work, 12 months per year. Iowa has always had to labor harder than many BCS conference programs to reach the Top 25. That has to be something that is understood and embraced. But it’s tough to pull off, anywhere.

“It takes a lot of work,” said another stellar senior Hawkeye offensive lineman, Seth Olsen. He sat on a chair in the bowels of the stadium Thursday and quietly basked in the satisfaction of a game well played and a year well spent.

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” Olsen said. ““That’s one of the quotes in our program. That’s obviously true for us.”

Credit from one Hawkeye to another flowed like Gatorade after the game.

“Our offensive line came together tremendously since last year,” said senior Brandon Myers, who will probably become another Iowa tight end to graduate to the NFL. “I knew that right away in camp. Shonn wouldn’t have done what he did without this group.”

Ah yes, Shonn. That’s Shonn Greene. You know him. The nation got introduced to him too late for a trip to the Heisman Trophy ceremony, but he was everybody’s All-America.

Greene was Greene again Thursday. The yards, the first-downs, the bludgeoning of a defense, and a ninth Iowa win. Then he announced he was turning pro. It was decent of him, really, to say it now and let everyone move on right away.

For the umpteenth time, Greene praised his blockers. He took it beyond that at the team’s postseason banquet last month, asking Iowa’s offensive linemen to join him when he received his team co-MVP award.

“Phenomenal,” Olsen said about Greene.

That covers it in a word, but Olsen added: “He flatters us. He made us look good this year, too.”

Oh, Iowa’s defense had a rather productive season itself, allowing a mere 13 points and 94 rushing yards per game and bowing out with domination over a Steve Spurrier-coached offense.

“It’s been a great year,” Ferentz said. “I just told the team I can’t remember one that was more enjoyable. That includes the championship years. This was a championship in its own right. It feels pretty good.

“This is a team I’ll remember for a long time.”

This was a football team again. Hawkeye football is again substantial.

Iowa probably won’t be ranked higher than 20th in next week’s final AP poll. But are there as many as 10 teams in the nation that are better?

I don’t think so. South Carolina probably doesn’t, either.

Hlas Column: Gamecocks Coach Spurrier Not Too Cocky These Days

All our Outback Bowl stuff can be found at http://www.hawkeyebowlgame.com.  But I’m offering this for those who bookmark straight to the Hlog. Those people, if I haven’t said so already, are the best people on the planet.

The Man

Steve Spurrier: The Man

TAMPA, Fla. – It’s funny. Steve Spurrier has been called brash throughout his coaching career, but he sounds positively sedate compared to some of his South Carolina players.

A coach comes off a 7-5 regular-season and two severe whippings from Florida and Clemson, and he knows better to flap his gums.

But his players have come to Tampa for the Outback Bowl talking like they’re somebody. The 56-6 thrashing they suffered on Nov. 15 at Spurrier’s old school, Florida? It’s old news. The 31-14 beating they took at state-rival Clemson two weeks later? It’s washed away.

“I thank the fans who’ve been with us through the good and the bad,” said USC senior wide receiver Kenny McKinley. “Just know that better days are coming. It’s going to start when we play Iowa.”

Maybe. But you won’t hear a similar pledge from the Ol’ Ball Coach, as he’s known down here.

Spurrier was the master of the universe when he coached the Florida Gators from 1990 through 2001. Oh, the days and nights were sweet in Gainesville.

His record was 122-27-1. There were seven Southeastern Conference titles, six appearances in the Top Five of the Associated Press’ final rankings. And, there was a national championship in 1996.

Seeking a new frontier, Spurrier spent two undistinguished seasons with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, then took a year off. He is now in his fourth year at South Carolina, and guess what? Winning is harder at some places than it is at Florida.

Spurrier relates to Iowa’s situation.

“In the Big Ten,” he said, “Ohio State’s always going to be there. Michigan should always be there. Then there’s a lot of schools in the middle.

“Yeah, we’re probably one of the schools in the middle.”

None of the other 11 SEC fan bases are feeling sorry for South Carolina only being ordinary the last four seasons, 28-21 overall and 15-17 in the league.

Ten of those fan groups remember how Spurrier used to trample them. The other is Florida’s, which is looking forward at a second national championship game under Urban Meyer instead of backward at the monster Spurrier created there.

Spurrier rankled Tennessee and Florida State ruthlessly when he was the Gators’ boss. He famously said you can’t spell “Citrus” without the “UT,” meaning Tennessee mostly went to Florida Citrus Bowls and the such while he was piloting Florida to five Sugar Bowls and two Orange Bowls.

But four years in at USC, and this Outback Bowl is the most prestigious of the three postseason games South Carolina has attended under Spurrier. And the 7-5 Gamecocks are here only because Tampa had no one more desirable from the SEC to pick.

“Last year we lost our last five,” Spurrier said Saturday after his team’s practice at Jefferson High School in Tampa. “We’ve only lost two in a row right now. So we’re a lot better off than we were a year ago.”

He said his goal is South Carolina’s first SEC title. They dreamed bigger at Florida.

“It always comes down to a bunch of good players and so forth,” Spurrier said.

“I believe that every now and then you can have that special year that win a conference championship. Now y’all – (former Iowa quarterback) Brad Banks, did he win (the Big Ten title) that year? They won the Big Ten that year?

“OK, that was a special year. We’re trying to have one of those special years where it all comes together.”

But to hear a couple of his Gamecock players say it, the special stuff starts Thursday in Raymond James Stadium at the expense of the Hawkeyes.

Friday night, both teams gathered in a Tampa convention center ballroom to fill themselves with Outback Steakhouse food. The size of Iowa’s offensive linemen impressed McKinley.

“I’m like ‘Golly! … NFL. A lot of guys were 6-7 and just big.”

From left to right, Iowa’s starting O-linemen stand 6-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-5 and 6-7. Their average weight is 302 pounds.

South Carolina defensive end Jordin Lindsey (Getty Images)

South Carolina defensive end Jordin Lindsey (Getty Images)

McKinley may have been wowed by those tall slabs of beef before he enjoyed his steak, but Lindsey claimed to be indifferent.

“You think my head was turning after playing Florida and all those guys?” he said. “No, man, I’m not worried about it.

“We’ve been going up against good offensive lines all year. We’re not worried about them. They’ve got a good team, and we’ve got a good plan for them.”

Iowa All-America Shonn Greene is “a good back,” Lindsey conceded. But “We’ve been facing good backs all year. We’re not stressing about it.

“As long as we can keep him behind that line, we’ll be fine.”

If you’d heard some bravado from Spurrier, you might be swayed South Carolina is poised for an upset. But when players who lost a game by 50 points last month talk boldly, we still need more proof the Gamecocks have game.

A Spartan Practice Facility for the Hawkeyes

 

This is Pepin/Rood Stadium, the home of the University of Tampa Spartans and the Outback Bowl practice site for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

It’s not really spartan. The field’s nice enough and the facilities seem adequate. Although, it was a little unusual to see Iowa players wearing nothing but towels in the most appropriate of places as they walked from their dressing room to the shower area.

To get from Point A to Point B, they had to go outside. Luckily, it was about 80 degrees out.

“It’s Florida. I guess you can run around,” said U of I assistant sports information director Steve Roe. “Why the shower’s not connected to the locker room, I don’t know.”

While the towel act was unusual, it was same old Iowa otherwise. Media members were kept across the street from the practice field. I like to get chased away from a Hawkeye practice once per decade, and this decade is running out. So I walked up to the fence and stared straight at the field where Iowa players were, I don’t know, working on plays or something.

Ron Stewart, the retired deputy sheriff who has been the Hawkeye football team chief of security since early in the Hayden Fry era, got up to the fence in his motorized cart in about 3.2 seconds.

I’ve been on friendly terms with Ron for a long time. He seems like a good guy to me. But security is security.

I said “Ron, I just wanted to get away from that pack of sportswriters.” A reasonable point, to be sure.

But Ron replied “You made that bed, you’ve got to sleep in it.”

He had me there.

If any of you are on your way to Tampa for a few days of fun and a certain bowl game named after a certain steakhouse franchise, I encourage you to visit a certain Irish pub in downtown Tampa and tell Ron he’s doing a great job keeping riff-raff from spying on the Hawks.

That would be Four Green Fields. As you can see if you go to the link below, Ron and his wife Cara are said to be the temporary hosts at the pub. The second photo at this site has a photo of the couple, but I see no proof they’re doing actual hosting. Ron doesn’t leave his post long enough on these bowl trips for that sort of thing. The guess here is he was a good guest and left a favorable impression on the pub’s staff.

http://sportsfanengy.blogspot.com/2008/12/night-out-on-town_26.html

There is an 8-story residence hall next to the stadium Iowa is using, David A. Straz Jr. Hall, to be precise.

Now, I wouldn’t suggest South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier would stoop to such shenanigans, but shouldn’t the Hawkeyes have all those rooms searched for video equipment all the same?

Speaking of South Carolina … the Hawkeyes have four team buses for the entire week to take them to practices, bowl functions, and wherever they need to go. The bus company isn’t from Florida, but from none other than South Carolina. Greenville, to be exact.

I talked to a couple of the drivers — very nice men — and they assured me they are not Gamecock fans. One said he was a follower of the Georgia Bulldogs, and the other said he had no favorite team.

But he liked Clemson better than South Carolina.

If you’re into omens, the bus company is called Champion Coach.

http://www.championcoach.com/uploads/Default.asp?Category=265

South Carolina Loses Yet Another Player to Grades

Steve Spurrier has had his share of headaches lately

Steve Spurrier has had his share of headaches lately

The following was cut-and-pasted directly from The State, the daily newspaper of Columbia, S.C.:
USC fifth-year linebacker Dustin Lindsey became the third Gamecocks’ player ruled ineligible for the Outback Bowl when the NCAA denied Lindsey’s appeal, sources told The State on Monday.

Lindsey, an Alabama native who failed out of school following the 2005 Independence Bowl before returning the following year, joins strong safety Emanuel Cook and offensive lineman Kyle Nunn. All failed to pass the mandatory six credit hours this semester required by the NCAA to be eligible for a bowl game.

Punter Spencer Lanning is awaiting word on his appeal.

http://www.thestate.com/gogamecocks/story/629534.html

Lanning, by the way, is the Gamecocks’ starting punter.

On this subject, a South Carolina faculty member isn’t thrilled with how Gamecocks athletes are being monitored as far as classroom progress. The link:

http://www.thestate.com/gogamecocks/story/629742.html

We told you about new Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin’s in-your-face attitude toward South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier.

Kiffin has swiped Spurrier’s quarterbacks coach John Reaves and strength coach Mark Smith, and is talking with bravado in response to Spurrier questioning whether Kiffin had taken the NCAA certification test to recruit before he began wooing players.

Kiffin said he got 39 out of 40 on the test and “I’d like to see what (Spurrier) got.”

Spurrier had his chance to return the fire Sunday and opted for tongue-in-cheek humility.

“I have always passed it,” said Spurrier. “Nah, I know he’s smarter than me. There’s no question about that. I barely graduated from college. I know I’m not the smartest guy out there. No big deal.”

Elsewhere in the Charleston Post and Courier story from which the above quote was borrowed, Spurrier says starting quarterback Stephen Garcia needs “to have that Tim Tebow attitude.”

Spurrier mentioned twice Sunday he’d like to hear Stephen Garcia sound a little more like Florida’s Tim Tebow.

“That ‘nobody’s going to work as hard as I am,’ Spurrier explained. “If Stephen Garcia says that, tap me on the shoulder. He’s got to learn how to work at it himself.”

The Gamecocks’ Outback Bowl game against Iowa will be played in Garcia’s hometown of Tampa. The Gamecocks will practice at Jefferson High, where Garcia starred.

“Really, he should be up to start the bowl game as a redshirt freshman. Not many quarterbacks get to do that,” Spurrier said. “I’m just trying to get him to learn his plays better.”

http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/dec/22/kinder_gentler_ball_coach65802/

Both Iowa, South Carolina Not Matching Previous Outback Bowl Ticket Sales

The economy is slowing even Iowa Hawkeye football fans.

Iowa fans bought 18,000 and 20,000 tickets for the school’s Outback appearances against Florida following the 2003 and ’05 regular seasons. This year Iowa has sold 12,700 tickets.

“It’s down a lot,” Iowa ticket director Pam Finke told The State, the daily newspaper of Columbia, S.C.  “We were out of tickets last time.”

It’s slightly less than 500 miles from Columbia to Outback Bowl site Tampa, Fla., but that doesn’t mean South Carolina fans are stampeding to the ticket windows, either.

Carolina fans bought 25,000 and 20,000 tickets, respectively, to watch USC’s Outback Bowl wins over Ohio State after the 2000 and ’01 regular seasons.

As of Friday, USC had sold about 9,000 of its 11,000-ticket allotment for the Outback Bowl, according to Eric Hyman, the school’s athletics director. That includes up to 1,500 seats the athletics department purchased.

“The slowdown has impacted everyone, except maybe Florida and Alabama,” Hyman said.

The link to The State’s story:

http://www.thestate.com/gogamecocks/story/628029.html?

Things are tough in Columbia these days. Not everyone in town has the money to go to the Outback Bowl. A lot of people don’t have jobs. This piece from Sunday’s New York Times looks at a city hit hard by hard times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/22/business/economy/22columbia.html?_r=1&partner=rss

On another front, new Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin isn’t afraid to steal from Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina football program or take any guff from USC people, including Spurrier himself.

Kiffin hired quarterbacks coach John Reaves from Carolina a couple weeks ago, and landed Gamecocks strength coach Mark Smith last Friday.

The Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier reported that even before Kiffin was introduced as Tennessee’s coach, Kiffin and Reaves were working fiercely on the recruiting trail. That included talking to prospects, such as Tampa running back Jarvis Giles, wh had committed to Carolina.

Spurrier openly questioned whether Kiffin had taken his NCAA certification test, required before he could legally recruit. Kiffin said when he was hired that he had in fact taken the test.

“If Steve’s concerned about my test, I got a 39 out of 40,” Kiffin said. “I’d like to see what he got.”

They play for keeps in the SEC.

The link:  http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/dec/21/kiffin_returns_jab65788/

South Carolina Loses a Key Ingredient for Outback

South Carolina starting  safety Emanuel Cook (No. 21) has been declared academically ineligible for the Gamecocks’ Outback Bowl game against Iowa.

Spurrier says Cook, a junior,  failed to pass the minimum six hours required by the NCAA to be eligible for a bowl game.

Cook has led South Carolina in tackles for the past two years, with 92 tackles last season and 87 this year. He was named to the 2008 Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference second team.

Check out Joe Person’s blog on South Carolina football in the Columbia newspaper, The State:

http://jperson.thestateonline.com/?p=153

South Carolina’s Football Team is Rejuvenated for Outback Bowl

South Carolina’s football team had a players-only meeting after its dismal regular-season finale at Clemson, a 31-14 loss.

Players-only meetings can be good things. Or, they can be a sign of a team that is tired of its coach.

At any rate, the 7-5 Gamecocks clearly needed some rejuvenation heading into their Outback Bowl date with Iowa.  Here are pieces from something called MrSEC.com, and The State, the newspaper in Columbia, S.C.

http://mrsec.com/story/did-carolinas-players-only-meeting-work

http://www.thestate.com/gogamecocks/story/620873.html

A Wild, Wild Rumor – Gene Chizik to Auburn

OK, I’m not buying this one bit. So why am I sharing it with you?

To illustrate how kooky things can get when it comes to rumors about coaching openings, that’s why. Oh, and because I think it will get eyeballs to this blog for a few hours.

Besides, some newspapers have held back the reins on similar stories because they couldn’t or wouldn’t believe the reports that came from elsewhere, be it cyberspace or Joe’s Garage. Like when Steve Alford was being romanced by New Mexico and vice versa. There was smoke before there was fire, but not everyone covering the Hawkeyes had their smoke-detectors going off.

According to something called AuburnUndercover.com, Iowa State football coach Gene Chizik interviewed with Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs Thursday about the vacant Auburn football job.

Chizik was the defensive coordinator at Auburn from 2002 through 2004. The Tigers went 13-0 in ’04, then Chizik took the same job at Texas.

Now, this story seems about as legit as e-mails from Nigerian lottery-winners. Isn’t it a little more likely Chizik may have conferred with Jacobs about, say, Auburn defensive coordinator Paul Rhodes?

Rhodes is likely to be out of a job at the school when the replacement for outgoing head coach Tommy Tuberville is named. Chizik has openings at openings at offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator.

So my smoke-detector isn’t going off. I can’t see Auburn, which needs a major splash to compete with Nick Saban at rival Alabama, to go after a guy with a 10-game losing streak at Iowa State.

But it’s out there at http://tinyurl.com/5v5t54.

Some of these team-specific sites offer some pretty darn sound, responsible information. Others do a lot of trading in the rumor business.

AuburnUndercover – which may have a history for on-the-mark reporting for all I know – includes this segment in that linked story:

Will Muschamp, defensive coordinator and head coach in waiting at Texas, vehemently denied a report by Channel 10 in Mobile that he would be named Auburn’s head coach Friday.

“Where does that stuff come from?” Muschamp said when contacted by AuburnUndercover.com. “It’s not true. I’m staying at Texas.”

Yes, where does that stuff come from? Where, for that matter, did the rumor come from that Auburn was in discussions with Steve Spurrier, the coach who will (one expects) lead South Carolina against Iowa in the Outback Bowl.

This is from that same AuburnUndercover story:

Channel 12 in Montgomery reported that Auburn “could be close” to offering South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier a contract. Those close to the search say there is no truth to that either, though Spurrier remains in the mix. Spurrier denied earlier that he is a candidate.

“There’s nothing to that,” Spurrier said. “It’s amazing how some of that stuff gets started. The Auburn one? Is that the one you’re talking about? Yeah, that one jumped out of nowhere. It’s interesting how anybody can almost start a rumor, I guess.”

That rumor is pretty goofy, too. Spurrier is 63 and hasn’t exactly brought his Florida-style dominance of the 1990s to South Carolina in his four years there.

But as for Chizik, he’d only be harming his career going after a golden parachute he can’t land. How would the Cyclones possibly sell an ailing football program to their ever-tolerant fan base if the coach had been looking for an emergency escape out of Ames.

Even though this rumor is wilder than the open Illinois U.S. Senate seat going to Mike Ditka, Chizik may want to go all Barney Fife, and nip it in the bud.  He should laugh at the story, tell the Cyclones  “We’re turning this thing around here, and please hang in there with us. We love you fans.”

And then go recruit a bunch of really super-duper high school seniors.