At halftime of Saturday afternoon’s basketball game between South Carolina and Arkansas, Steve Spurrier called a meeting with reporters in the tunnel at Colonial Life Arena. Nobody was quite sure what Spurrier wanted to talk about. As it turned out, there was no major news, but something very bizarre did occur.
“I thought I’d get together with you guys and let you know how impressed we are with our new (defensive line) coach, Deke Adams,” Spurrier said to start. “He’s sort of my kind of coach, good family man, wonderful personality. I think our players are really going to enjoy playing for him.
“Recruiting has been going very well. About to finish up this weekend. We have about four recruits in. We’re still recruiting about two or three guys that haven’t made up their mind yet. We had (Jadeveon) Clowney up there helping us out with recruiting. I was sitting next to him a few minutes ago (at the basketball game) saying it was only two years ago that he was up here. In all likelihood, he’s got one more year to play here. So it goes pretty fast.”
“Certainly we’re fired up about what we’ve been able to do the last couple of years as far as total wins. We need to start winning some more Eastern Division championships and hopefully an SEC here someday soon. That was about it.
“I came across a certain statistical trivia that I wanted to ask you guys today. How many teams in the BCS conferences have won 11 or more the last two years? I’ve got a bonus for you if anybody knows the answer.”
Two reporters correctly answered South Carolina, Alabama, Stanford and Oregon. That’s right, Spurrier told them.
“For South Carolina to be in the same neighborhood as Oregon, Stanford, Alabama … that’s sort of neat,” he said. “Somebody gave me that statistic today, so I thought you guys would want to know that. Next time, y’all do some of that work.”
After the interview session ended, Spurrier reached into the inside breast pocket of his blazer and pulled out several small white envelopes. He handed two of them to the reporters who got the question right. Presumably, this was the bonus he was talking about. Then Spurrier walked away. The reporters opened the envelopes. There was a $100 bill inside of each. And yes, it was real. The reporters stood there, stunned, and presumably, they planned to return the money to someone in USC’s sports information office.
With that, here is the rest of what Spurrier had to say Saturday …
** Spurrier was asked about how he once called his former defensive line coach, Brad Lawing, the best defensive line coach in the country. Lawing is now at Florida.
“That was a while back that I said that, wasn’t it?” Spurrier said. “I don’t feel like we’re going to miss coach Lawing. He’s an excellent coach. No question about that. We think Deke Adams is a very good coach. He’s a guy that worked his way up. He coached a bunch of small colleges. Yeah, he’s a good coach.”
** So is USC now an elite program like Alabama, since it has back-to-back 11-win seasons?
“I don’t know. That’s for you guys to say all that kind of stuff. But it is neat to be in there with Alabama. Alabama does it about every year, so it’s not a big deal for them. We know we’ve got to fight and claw and win close games to do that. We’re not going to have four or five first-round picks like Alabama, and we’re not going to out-recruit Alabama. So we’ve got to play well. We’ve got to play smart and disciplined if we’re going to continue winning 11 games.”
** Has Spurrier talked to Clowney about getting an insurance policy?
“I haven’t talked to him about that. We’re going to treat Jadeveon as one of the guys as much as we can. He’s smart. Somebody asked me one time, ‘Isn’t he worried about getting hurt before he becomes the first pick?’ I said, ‘Well, he’s smart. He doesn’t stand around a pile stiff-legged. He knows sort of how to sort of keep himself out of harm’s way at times. There’s some people who are real good at that, and I think he is. We’re not anticipating him, hopefully, getting any kind of serious injury.”
And what about Clowney tweeting that he might stay around for two more years instead of one?
“I think he’s just trying to get the fans to love him a little bit more. I was kidding around with him one time that he should tell the fans ‘I think I’m going to stay two more.’ Nah, that’s not the smart thing for him to do. He knows that.”
** Might more of USC’s assistants leave for other jobs?
“You never know. When you win a lot of games, your assistant coaches become real good coaches. I’m a lot better coach than I was five years ago, too. We’re all whatever our record is. That’s what we are. If there’s an opportunity for our assistant coaches to really advance, that could happen. I was saying the other day that one good thing that I’ve never had to do in my 28 years as a head coach is I’ve never had to go out and look for an offensive coordinator (because Spurrier calls his own plays). Did you know that? That makes it a lot simpler.”
None of them have interviewed yet, Spurrier clarified.
“They’ve got a few calls, but we sort of have a policy: Don’t go interview unless it’s an advancement. I’ve always had that policy. If a guy is an interviewing for a lateral job, then when he comes back home, he may not have one. Simple as that. Don’t go out there interviewing for lateral jobs. I’m for advancement in the profession.”
** Spurrier was pleased to hear that former USC running back Marcus Lattimore spoke optimistically at the Senior Bowl about his chances of playing early next season in the NFL.
“Marcus, right after surgery, he was still up here and he said he had less swelling in this knee than the other one. So as we know, those doctors can do miracles today. Dr. (James) Andrews told him how far he’s come. Dr. (Jeff) Guy (USC’s team doctor) was actually showing me a video on his phone of Marcus just doing some high step stuff with absolutely no limp or anything. He hasn’t started running yet, but he’s way ahead of schedule.”
** Spurrier said Bruce Ellington hasn’t told him yet if he plans to play football, basketball or both next season. Spurrier said he hopes to have him now that Ace Sanders has turned pro early.
“He’s our leading receiver. Coach (Frank) Martin, he’s on board with Bruce playing two sports just like I am, so it’s all up to Bruce. There’s no selfishness, football or basketball. We’re all on the same team with this. I think he can play both sports, as he proves. He’s a kid that he can run all day, conditioning. He’s one of those special players that can do that (play both sports). Bruce, I think he’s about the only one (I’ve coached) who has played two major sports.”
** Running back Shon Carson, who will compete to replace Lattimore, has a good shot of making the baseball team. Cornerback Ahmad Christian definitely will be on the team. If Carson is on the baseball team, would Spurrier still like to see him practice with football in the spring?
“If he is contributing or if he’s starting on the baseball team, he stays there the whole time. Now, if he’s sitting on the bench about half the game or about the whole game, then he needs to come practice (football) a little bit. Simple as that. If they’re contributors in baseball, stay over there the whole time. If you’re sitting on the bench, you need to come over with us a little bit. When I was at Duke, we had a couple football players who went out for baseball. So one day we were getting ready to go to spring practice and you know what their job was (with baseball)? They were on the other side of batting cage, retrieving foul balls. That was their job, so we got their butts down practicing football after that. It’s pretty simple: If you contribute, go play (baseball). If you’re not, come on over (to football in the spring).”
** Spurrier was asked about Clemson opening its new indoor football practice facility. USC is also building one.
“We don’t brag about that as much as some people do. Almost everyone has one. I think we practiced indoors two to three days last year. That’s all. The weather here is so good. But it’s good to have one in the winter time. And really, you have one just because everyone else has one, just like that video scoreboard we’ve got, that $6 million scoreboard. Everybody else has got one, so we’ve got to have one. That’s just the way it is.”