The man who feasted on the Georgia Bulldogs football team with words and deeds in the ’90s is at it again. The fellow who used those tactics to give the Florida Gators a huge psychological advantage over UGA may be doing so again at South Carolina.
Steve Spurrier is like no other coach in America. Most will engage in coachspeak and politically say things that will not wind up on someone else’s bulletin board. Spurrier has no such restraint.
The latest example is a verbal joust with UGA defensive chief Todd Grantham in the wake of Carolina’s 17-6 victory over the Bulldogs last Saturday.
Witness the AJC’s account:
ATHENS — Todd Grantham took note of Saturday’s barb from Steve Spurrier –- and returned the volley Tuesday night with a reference to Spurrier’s lack of success in the NFL.
Spurrier, the South Carolina coach, poked at Grantham, the Georgia defensive coordinator and long-time NFL assistant, after Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore had 182 yards rushing against the Bulldogs by saying: “That little inside zone play, the NFL doesn’t run that play. That’s a new scheme, I guess.”
Grantham was asked after Georgia’s practice Tuesday if he saw Spurrier’s comment.
“Yeah, that was texted to me,” Grantham replied with a grin. “I appreciate his assistance, you know. But we actually knew what plays they were running. And they actually run that play in pro ball, and our offense actually runs that play, too. So we’re kind of on top of our game.
“It was kind of an out-of-left-field comment,” Grantham added. “I kind of took it more as a shot at the NFL. I really wasn’t sure if it was because of his lack of success there or what. So I kind of took it more like that than anything.”
Spurrier was 12-20 in two seasons as coach of the NFL’s Washington Redskins.
Grantham coached in the NFL for 11 seasons before being hired as Georgia’s defensive coordinator this year.
When Spurrier was at Florida, he really worked Georgia over. He referred to coach Ray Goff as “Ray Goof” and once noted that recruiting services always ranked Georgia higher than its accomplishments on the field, another shot at the Georgia coaching staff. Spurrier’s prickly demeanor only adds to the salt in the wound.
He also would rub matters in on the scoreboard, once running up more than 50 points in Sanford Stadium, at the time the first visiting coach to do so.
All this came from the heated rivalry that goes way back between Georgia and Florida; the game is almost always a factor in the SEC title race, which the Gators never won until Spurrier arrived as coach. This had to be particularly galling in 1966, Spurrier’s Heisman-winning year as Gator QB.
Now, it seems the Evil Genius is at work again. South Carolina has won two of the past four games in the series with UGA, and the most recent win was very convincing. Georgia failed to crack the end zone, and could not stop RB Marcus Lattimore. In 2007, after the Gamecocks won in Athens, Spurrier said that Georgia was “not some big powerhouse program,” noting the Bulldogs’ struggles in the SEC East dating back to 2006.
History repeats, and in SEC football, it’s particularly enjoyable. Unless you are a Georgia fan with Spurrier on the other sideline.