Steve Spurrier (US Presswire)
Columbia, SC (WLTX) - USC Head Coach Steve Spurrier says despite what you may think, he doesn't loathe his counterpart at Clemson.
"I like Dabo," Spurrier said Sunday, when asked about Tigers Head Coach Dabo Swinney. "I think he's a wonderful guy, and excellent coach. He's done a super job up there at Clemson. He and I, and I think our wives, get along very well."
That may be a little surprising to fans who've heard the two men's comments over the last year. Spurrier and Dabo had an infamous war of words last November, when a quote was misattributed to Spurrier, and Swinney responded with harsh words about the Gamecocks program. The two have traded jabs here and there since.
Spurrier, though, says their barbs aren't filled with as much meaning as some think.
"Every now and then, just to keep the rivalry going, I think he and I need to say a little something to stir up emotions here and there. But it'll probably be all about football this week."
This week, of course, is the Carolina-Clemson game. USC (9-2) is trying to get its second straight 10 win or more season, while Clemson (10-1) wants to try and stop a three-game losing skid to the Gamecocks.
"It should be a heck of a game," Spurrier said. "They're a very good team."
When asked if his players take this game more seriously now than in the past, Spurrier said the opposite was true.
"I think we take it less seriously than they used to," Spurrier said. "I think they overdid it prior to coming here."
Spurrier said when he arrived in Columbia in 2004, there were signs all over the locker rooms and the coaches' offices that said "beat Clemson." At booster club meetings, fans would sometimes tell him they didn't care if the Gamecocks lost all their games, as long as they beat Clemson.
"I said my thoughts are the opposite, I'd rather win 'em all and lose to Clemson if that was the choice," he recalled.
"My belief is you don't talk about one team the entire year, you don't practice every day and say we're going to beat Clemson today, we're going to get ready to beat Clemson today. No, you practice to get better every day you play one game at a time."
That's not to say the game doesn't matter.
Spurrier has clearly put his stamp on the rivalry, leading the Gamecocks to three straight wins over Clemson for the first time in decades. Just a few weeks ago at a rally for Marcus Lattimore, he reminded fans that a certain team "doesn't beat us like they used to."
"We take it seriously, but we don't talk about beating Clemson all year long the way they did in the past around here."
The teams play Saturday at Clemson. Gametime is set for 7 p.m.