Nov 24, 2012; Clemson, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier (left) shakes hands with Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney (right) prior to the game at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Swinney Matches Spurrier in South Carolina War of Words

It looks like the Ol’ Ball Coach has finally met his match.

After two decades of riling up fan bases at Auburn, Georgia, Florida State, and most notably, Tennessee, South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier has proven his ability to win the war of words with schools. Remember “Free Shoes University” for FSU? What about calling Georgia Coach Ray Goff Ray “Goof?” And then, when there was an Auburn dorm fire that burned books, he said, “but the real

January 1,2013; Tampa, FL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier against the Michigan Wolverines during the second half of the 2013 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. South Carolina won 33-28. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

tragedy is that 15 of them were not colored yet.”

Nobody has been the target of jabs from Spurrier like Tennessee, though. In the 1990s, when the Capital One Bowl was the Citrus Bowl, he once said “You can’t spell Citrus without UT,” referring to the Vols constantly finishing second to the Gators in the SEC. When Peyton Manning returned for his senior season, he said, “I know why Peyton came back for his senior year: he wanted to be three-time Citrus Bowl MVP.” Then there’s the infamous time when he went down the list of Tennessee’s goals in 1996: National Championship, SEC championship, divisional championship…none of which were reached. State championship? The Vols lost to Memphis that year.

His tactics against the Vols carried on to South Carolina, taking a shot at the arrest record for Tennessee in 2005, questioning if Lane Kiffin had taken the recruiting test in 2008, and publicly correcting Kiffin in 2009 when he tried to take a jab back at Spurrier.

Now, Spurrier’s doing the same thing to Clemson, but Tiger Head Coach Dabo Swinney is firing back, which makes this whole thing a lot more exciting.

This week, Spurrier made a response to a comment Swinney made after he won the Orange Bowl earlier this year that shows he’s still the king of the jabs.

Swinney said that the 2013 Clemson team was the first team from South Carolina to win the Orange Bowl. Spurrier’s response, according to a story on ESPN… 

“We’ve never even been to [a BCS bowl]. I’ll admit to that, although we beat them about every year. They get there and we don’t. That’s just the way it is. The SEC can only send two teams and the ACC sends two. We’ve got too many good teams going.”

It should be noted that Spurrier is spot on with this comment. 11-2 is barely good enough for Top 5 in the SEC, while it’s good enough for Top 2 in the ACC. When getting into a war of words with Spurrier, you’d better be careful because usually he wins.

But this back and forth between the two coaches has gone on for three years now, and Spurrier has met a pretty tough match.

In 2011, Swinney implied Spurrier didn’t win with class after responding to a quote that was attributed to Spurrier but actually wasn’t made by him in regards to the Gamecocks blowing out the Tigers.

Then, in 2012, Spurrier tried to take a shot at Clemson’s stadium, “Death Valley,” when he noted that LSU’s stadium is the same name.

“Most of our guys have never been to Death Valley,” he said.

But, in this instance, we saw that Spurrier has definitely met his match.

Swinney’s response: as USC, South Carolina’s program can get confused with another program.

“Our guys have never been to USC. California is a long way from here. I can see where there would be a little confusion, got two Death Valleys, two USCs, but only one real one.”

Jan 3, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Sammy Watkins (2) and head coach Dabo Swinney smile for the crowd following the 2014 Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Clemson defeated Ohio State 40-35. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

He also said that the real Carolina is in Chapel Hill.

Ouch. Only one real USC. Only one real Carolina. Neither of which is South Carolina. That’s the best jab any coach has had on Spurrier.

Later, when Swinney said he was praying for Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore after a severe injury, Spurrier referred to Swinney’s quotes two days later by saying, I read one today from the head coach at our upstate school, you know, that school that used to beat us a lot that doesn’t beat us much anymore.”

With both schools emerging as two of the Top 10 programs in the country the past three years, it was only natural that the rivalry would become more heated, even if it has been one-sided recently. Now, with the coaches going at each other, things are even better.

Swinney’s not just doing this to Spurrier. Like Spurrier, he’s taking shots at other coaches too. In response to Maryland Head Coach Randy Edsall saying that he’s glad to finally be in a football conference in the Big Ten, Swinney was ready. He made this quote at ACC Media Days: “We just beat Ohio State. Aren’t they in that conference?”

These now might be the two most entertaining coaches in college football. And they’re a generation apart. But as they continue to coach in the same state and remain in-state rivals, national powers, and fight for conference pride, this rivalry could only get better as time goes on.

Of course, Clemson will actually have to win a game against South Carolina at some point. I hope Spurrier doesn’t quote me next.

Tags: ACC Auburn Tigers Clemson Tigers Dabo Swinney Feature Florida State Seminoles Georgia Bulldogs Maryland Terrapins Orange Bowl Randy Edsall SEC South Carolina Gamecocks Steve Spurrier Tennessee Volunteers

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