Jadeveon Clowney walks onto the field following the Kentucky game. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Columbia, SC (WLTX) - South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier is downplaying any talk of being upset over his star Jadeveon Clowney's decision not to play in the Kentucky game.
Spurrier spoke by phone Sunday to reporters. As the call started, Spurrier had the team's trainer clarify that Clowney has a strained muscle around his rib area. Previously, that injury was reported as brusied ribs.
Clowney told the coaching staff just prior to Saturday's game that he wouldn't play.
"Jadeveon was not suited up," Spurrier said. "I asked him 'you not playing' and he said, 'nope I'm in pain.'"
When asked about the situation immediately following the game, Spurrier said, "if he wants to play, we will welcome him to come play for the team if he wants. But he if doesn't want to play, he doesn't have to play. Simple as that." Previous Coverage: Spurrier Discusses Clowney's Sudden Absence
All Sunday morning, national sports media repeatedly played that soundbite, and speculated on what it might mean about Spurrier's thoughts on Clowney's decision and Clowney's committment to the Gamecocks. S
Spurrier, though, said he was just a little thrown off by the timing of the announcement.
"It was just we didn't know he wasn't playing until right before the game," Spurrier said. "It's always a little frustrating. Usually the trainer or the doctor tells you [if a guy] is out. That did not happen last night. But on the other sidem if a player's in pain and he can't play I don't want him to play. None of us do. I guess we just didn't know until right before the game."
"It's not a big story. The big story was he was in pain and he couldn't play."
When asked directly if he questioned Clowney's concentration and focus on the team, Spurrier deferred.
"You'll have to ask him [Clowney] about that. I can't speak for Jadeveon."
Spurrier said the team would try to make the defensive end available for interviews this week.