Steve Spurrier Press Conference Quotes For SEC Championship
Here is what South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier had to say about his team’s upcoming game against Auburn in the SEC Championship.
We’re obviously fired up, excited to be in the game, to win the Eastern Division for the first time ever. And we’re happy we’re coming in with a victory over our big rival here in the state of South Carolina, Clemson, last night.
So our team has played very well the last three games. We played about as well as we have all year, which is what you hope to be at the end of the season. And I know Auburn feels probably the same way. They played extremely well.
They have found a way to win all their games. They’ve had a tremendous year. So I really respect what they have done this year. They’ve been – I wouldn’t say the surprise team – but they’ve been one of the best teams in the country, if not the best team through the course of the first 12 games. They’re to be commended for that. And it should be a heck of a game. Our guys will be excited and ready to play. And we’re looking forward to it.
Can you just describe what you guys have done to change the Monday schedule and maybe how that’s helped the team? And is there any superstition involved in that, considering how you played?
We’ve only changed it a little bit after we played so poorly against Arkansas. We decided to try to do something different. We watched a lot of the Arkansas tape and just went out and ran a little bit on Monday. And then we got the report Tuesday for the Florida game and started concentrating on them. So we played pretty well down there. So we’ve sort of left it like that. But we’ll talk a little bit about Auburn when we meet up on Monday.
You know you talked about at the top about playing really well these last three games. I mean, when you compare how this team is playing now compared with when you went to Auburn earlier this year, what is the biggest improvement you think your team has made?
I think the biggest improvement we’ve probably made is pass defense. After we left Kentucky, we were sort of in disarray and really Arkansas picked us apart pretty well. But they’ve picked apart everybody. So maybe shouldn’t go by that game.
But our defense and our pass defense has really improved here these last three games. And that’s what’s given us a chance certainly to win. But other than that, the special team play, our kicker, Spencer Lanning, has been very good in his field goals and his punting, and he might have been the most valuable player in the game last night against Clemson. Punting I think two or three inside the 5-yard line and three out of four of his field goals.
So we’ve got a very good kicker/punter, and our defense is playing well now, which always gives you a chance.
As a follow-up, being here again and what this means and could you have ever envisioned this in 2001 when you left Florida?
Well, that was our goal here at South Carolina was to be there and to win the game there. And it’s obviously still our goal. And we didn’t think we had a team until maybe this year. And our guys in preseason I sometimes allow the team and captains to set their goals maybe a little higher than what’s realistic. And our guys set a goal of winning the East, winning the SEC and beating Clemson and doing a lot of things.
So we’ll see if we can finish off our goals this Saturday afternoon.
I’m sorry, not to interrupt you, meant for you personally in 2001, when you left Florida, could you have ever imagined being back in this game?
Not when I left Florida in 2001. I thought I’d coach in the NFL five or six years and hang it up. But sometimes your plans as a coach don’t always follow through the way maybe you imagined.
So anyway after a couple of years in the NFL, well, that situation – I was lucky to be available when South Carolina’s job came open, and what’s given a chance here is our Athletic Director Eric Hyman and our boosters have really done a super job building facilities here. We’re the best in SEC right now in all facilities, athletically, and prior to five, six years ago we were near the bottom. So this gives us a chance to recruit top kids in the state and out of state also.
You played in the very first one of these games. When this game was first created there was some rumblings from coaches how you could never get to a national championship game, how this game wouldn’t be good for the league; but you seem to embrace it right from the beginning. Why was that?
This game has helped more teams than it’s hurt in the SEC. Now, it may have hurt a team or two out of the Big 12 occasionally or somewhere else. But if we had one loss during the regular season and then you’re able to win the SEC championship game, that will certainly put you in the national championship game as long as there’s not a bunch of undefeated teams out.
But to me this is a playoff system here. And I just sort of believe every coach in a conference, his main goal would be to win his conference championship each year. And if you’re lucky enough to get in the final game for the national, well, that’s just sort of a bonus deal. But when you play for your conference championship in SEC, every team has a chance, somewhat of a chance; if you can win your division, you can get to the final game. If you can win it, you will be the champ.
So it’s clear what you gotta do. You don’t have to worry about people voting. You don’t have to worry about your schedule. You can lose all the out-of-conference games you like and just win the crucial ones and you’ll have a shot at your conference championship.
So I just think it’s the way it gives every team in the country hope to have a championship year when you can go play for your conference championship.