COLUMBIA — You can tell that South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier has just about had enough of the media and the fans when it comes to any hint of controversy that involves All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Whether its Jay-Z and agents or autographs, Spurrier is done.
After Wednesday night’s practice, Spurrier talked briefly with reporters and his message was clear, Clowney didn’t receive any money and didn’t do anything wrong.
End of discussion.
He hasn’t been pleased with the fans or the media since the beginning of practice. Spurrier has closed preseason practices sooner than he has in the past because of all the smart phones and video cameras the fans brought to practices in the first few days.
It a major reason why Spurrier closed Saturday’s scrimmage at Williams-Brice Stadium.
That and all the autograph seekers.
“Jadeveon can’t get to the practice field because 500 people want his autograph,” Spurrier said last Sunday.
As P&C reporter Jeff Hartsell and I wrote in today’s P&C, Clowney has inadvertently been ensnared (good choice of words from my distinguished colleague) in this whole “pay-for-autographs” scandal that involves Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
But Manziel and Clowney are not the only ones. Any high profile college player has seemingly been caught in this wide net over the last couple of days.
Do I think the Clowney received any money autographs? I doubt it. I think he’s too well schooled by Spurrier and USC officials to do something like that. And I believe he’s too savvy to jeopardize what is essentially a contract season for him.
“All these guys sign autographs, I sign them,”Spurrier said. “I don’t like signing them and mine isn’t as valuable as JD Clowney’s and Marcus Lattimore’s. I’ve tried to tell Marcus and JD not to sign for the autograph guys. A little kid or a Gamecock person, well, we sign for all of them.
“His autograph is out there, Marcus’ autograph is out there. Mine is out there, but I can get paid for mine and occasionally.”
But it just doesn’t look good to have hundreds of helmets with Clowney’s signature all over them by people who sell them for a living.
Which brings me to another point, if you’ve ever been to a USC or Clemson practice, you see these professional autograph seekers. They are middle-age men that hang around getting guys to sign stuff from posters, to helmets to photographs. These guys are parasites and shouldn’t be allowed within 200 yards of a stadium or a practice field. Some of these clowns, no pun intended, employ their kids to help them out, so they look legit.
Fans love to blame the media for stories like this, which to me, is simply a case of shooting the messenger.
USC defensive end Chaz Sutton had an excellent philosophy when it comes to autograph seekers.
“You always have people coming up to you asking for autographs,” Sutton said. “You don’t know what their intentions are or what the case might be. You just have to be careful in what you say and what you do because everyone is under a microscope when you’re a major college football player.
“You’ve got to tell the guy no sometimes. If it’s for someone then you personalize it or you don’t accept anything even if they say they’ll give you such and such. You just go about your business and don’t autograph it all because you can jeopardize your eligibility.”