South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier had some very interesting comments Sunday night about his coaches’ poll ballot, which was made public earlier in the day along with the rest of the ballots for the final poll.
The coaches’ poll, of course, factors into the Bowl Championship Series rankings. Spurrier’s top 15 was: Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida, Oregon, Georgia, Kansas State, LSU, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Stanford, Florida State, Clemson, Northwestern and Nebraska.
Compared to what the poll ended up being, Spurrier had Florida one spot higher, Oregon one lower, South Carolina two higher, Oklahoma two higher, Texas A&M one lower, Stanford three lower, Northwestern three higher and Nebraska six higher.
At Sunday night’s press conference to announce USC’s matchup with Michigan in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl, Spurrier offered some insight into his voting process …
“There’s a little bit of a tough call, because you have to be politically correct, as we know, when they put your name on your ballot. So I tried to be politically correct. If it was anonymous, I would have changed it a little bit, to be honest with you. I would have put some different teams here there or the other.
“When I’m going to read USA Today tomorrow, I’m going to see where all those other SEC coaches put us. And they’re going to look and see where I put them. So that’s just the way life is. When it’s public knowledge, well gosh, you’ve got to put them here, them here. I would have done it differently if I hadn’t put my name on it. That’s just being honest.”
Would he have ranked Alabama No. 1? (This is all semantics since the Alabama-Notre Dame national title game was already set.)
“Yeah, probably. Well, I don’t know. There’s several teams. I don’t want to get into exacts. There’s several teams I would have done a little bit differently, but when you have to put your name on it and you’ve got all these people in our neighborhood that you’ve got to look out for, that’s what you’ve got to do, in my opinion. And I think most coaches did that. If they said, ‘That’s the way I exactly see it,’ I don’t know if they’re telling you the truth.
“We all do that a little bit. We’re in the SEC and we look out for each other a little bit. And other conferences look out for their guys a little bit. That’s just human nature. That’s the way life is. Whether or not we all believe Notre Dame should be No. 1, hey, they won all their games. Have they played the toughest schedule? No, they haven’t.
“If they were playing Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia or USC, who would be favored on a neutral site? I don’t know. You need to call (gambling expert) Danny Sheridan and ask him, and he’ll give you a line, I guess. But they’ve won all their games and that’s the way we do it in college football. They deserve to be No. 1 because they won all their games. Whether or not they’re the best team, it doesn’t matter. It’s because they won all their games.”
Spurrier also has a ballot for the Heisman Trophy, since he is a former winner. Who did he vote for?
“I’m not going to reveal that, but I will reveal that I did vote for one South Carolina player, and you’ll see it when it comes out. I always vote for one of the guys on my team. So it’ll be out there.”
You have to think that would be defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Here are some things Spurrier said about facing Michigan in the Outback Bowl …
** Tampa is “sort of one of my favorite cities in Florida. I’ve got two or three favorites. Tampa is where I got my first opportunity as a head coach with the Tampa Bay Bandits in 1983.”
** Michigan head coach Brady Hoke is the brother of Jon Hoke, who was Spurrier’s defensive coordinator in his final three years at Florida (1999-2001). He has been the defensive backs coach for the Chicago Bears since 2009.
** The last time USC went to the Outback Bowl, it got smoked 31-10 by Iowa.
“Four years ago when we went down there with a 7-5 record, we had just got clobbered by Clemson. We were sort of in disarray. We sort of stunk it up (in the Outback Bowl), didn’t play very well. Hopefully we’re a different team. I really believe we are a completely different team than we were four years ago. I think our team is a more mature team.
“This is a big-time opportunity for our school, our university, our football program. We’re looking forward to representing our university in a very positive way. We didn’t do it the last time down there. But again, we’re different players, different coaches, I think a completely different team than we were four years ago. That doesn’t mean we’re going to beat Michigan. They’re an outstanding team. Denard Robinson, their quarterback, I don’t know if we’ve faced a guy quite like him that can throw and run and do what he does.”
Since the 2008 Outback Bowl, USC is 37-15, including 30-9 since the start of 2009.
“That game is history now. We thought we were ready to play, and obviously I did a very poor job of getting our team ready to play. Maybe I’ve done a better job, our assistant coaches have done better and we’ve got better players here. Every year is a different team, as we know.”
** Spurrier knows playing Michigan has more buzz to it than a matchup with Northwestern in the Gator Bowl. Northwestern will play Mississippi State.
“Northwestern is a heck of a team. They easily could have been going to the Rose Bowl. But if you beat Northwestern or you get beat by Northwestern, you don’t achieve quite as much by playing Michigan. When you play a team with the stature, the tradition and the reputation of the University of Michigan, it’s something special.
“This is the first time I’ve ever had a chance to compete against them. Their former coach, Bo Schembechler, I’m a great follower and (have) respect for him as one of the best coaches of all time. Some of his sayings I still use today. I have tremendous admiration for Michigan, Michigan football and the players that have played up there.
“I met him and the one saying (of his) that followed me, he said, ‘Running teams are tougher teams.’ At Florida in 1991 (Spurrier’s second year), we beat Alabama 35-0 one night (in the second game of the season). And we were going up to Syracuse the next game. We went up there feeling pretty good about ourselves, pretty cocky. I think I put in a no huddle. We were going to throw it all over the place. And Syracuse smacked us in the mouth, kicked our tails up and down the field. I think they beat us 38-21 (correct). We ran the ball about 15 times, tried to throw, all kinds of stuff.
“And I remember reading his book, I think, either that week or right after it. And he said, ‘Running teams are tougher teams.’ And we went to play Mississippi State, actually in Orlando. Mississippi State sold their home game to Orlando for some extra money, as we know schools do that. And Errict Rhett I think ran the ball about 37 times against Mississippi State and we beat them 29-7, went on and won the SEC that year and went to the Sugar Bowl. Bo Schembechler was one of the great coaches in college football history and that’s my favorite quote of his. I haven’t always lived by it. Probably should have. I’ve reverted back to it recently here at South Carolina.”