Hoover, AL (WLTX) - Steve Spurrier says he likes the current state of the Gamecocks football program, and says the team has a chance to do good things in the upcoming season.
Spurrier spoke to reporters Tuesday as part of SEC Media Days in Alabama.
The Head Ball Coach is entering his 10th season in Columbia, which will set a new milestone in a career full of accomplishments for him. He'll now be the first SEC coach to lead two different schools for 10 years. (He coached at Florida for 12 seasons)
In his time at Carolina, he's seen USC go from being what he called a "mediocre" program to a squad that's been ranked in the post-season top 10 for three straight years.
"We've got a good program, and if we continue to work our tails off, hopefully we can keep it up," he said.
He credits the athletic director, the school president, and his assistant coaches, and the boosters for helping to turn things around. He said when he got to USC, there was only one person who'd given over a $1 million to the school; now, that number is up to 12 or 13 big-time donors.
"The big donors in college are sort of like the owners in the NFL...they bring the money," he said, citing their help in getting the school upgraded facilities. "They are extremely important."
The Gamecocks will begin the 2014 season at home August 28th against Texas A&M. Most magazines and college football pundits have USC in the preseason top 10.
"We got a pretty good team we think, hopefully we can live up to those predictions," he said. ""I know our fans will be pumped up and hollering and screaming."
They'll be led by fifth-year senior Dylan Thompson, who Spurrier says will have to compress his entire college quarterbacking dreams into one season. But Spurrier says his signal-caller is ready for it.
"He has a chance to lead us to a big season," Spurrier said. "We've been winning our share of the close games. We have to win the close games."
Of course, he'd like to see the school win it's first SEC Championship--earning one of those is part of the coach's sales pitch to incoming recruits--but he knows it's not the only way to judge success.
"Our fans realize there's more to life than winning the SEC Championship. We're in a state with Clemson, and Clemson used to pretty much own South Carolina in football. We have a state championship trophy. and if you ask our fans at South Carolina, I can assure you, a majority would say we would rather beat Clemson than win the SEC. That is how big it is to them, that one game. Personally I'd rather win the SEC. I don't mind saying that. Personally that's a bigger trophy. But if we're not quite good enough if it doesn't work out, we're not going to hang our hat and say 'oh gosh, we're not going to win the SEC. There's other things out there."
And even though he hasn't been a member of the Gamecocks in nearly three years, the topic of former USC quarterback Stephen Garcia was broached by reporters. Garcia is at SEC Media Days doing radio work, interviewing players and coaches for "Saturdays Down South," a sports news website.
Spurrier said he wished Garcia the best in whatever he does, and that despite what you heard during Garcia's tumultuous tenure at USC, the two always got along on the field.
"Stephen is a good guy," Spurrier said. "He did a lot of good [for the Gamecocks]."
After Spurrier's remarks, the two had a chance to meet face-to-face in the hallway outside of the press room, where the two caught up.
He also couldn't help but comment on his former player's appearance, nothing that Garcia's gone back to his long locks and a short beard, similar to his look when he arrived at USC.
"He looked like he joined Duck Dynasty than the media," Spurrier joked.