Dabo: I think Spurrier was trying to pay me a compliment

Special to The StateOctober 30, 2012 

USC head football coach Steve Spurrier addresses a crowd in front of McKissick Museum on the USC Horseshoe. Hundreds of people came out to wish injured Gamecock running back Marcus Lattimore a happy 21st birthday and get well soon regards. Lattimore recently suffered a knee injury.

C. ALUKA BERRY — caberry@thestate.com Buy Photo

— Dabo Swinney said today he thought Steve Spurrier was trying to pass along a compliment during Marcus Lattimore’s birthday party, get-well rally celebration on Monday.

“People, they just need to back off the ledge,” the Clemson head football coach said at the conclusion of his weekly media briefing. “Personally, I really think he was trying to pay me a compliment.

“I think (he was),” Swinney said, repeating, “I think.”

Swinney likened it to a husband’s exchange with his wife.

“I know it was a roundabout way maybe of getting there. It would be like me telling my wife I think you should wear this dress. I think you should wear this dress. You don’t look near as fat in this dress.”

Spurrier alluded to Swinney’s remarks Sunday when asked about Lattimore’s season-ending knee injury, the second critical injury in two years. Clemson recruited Lattimore, too, and Swinney became acquainted with him and the Lattimore family.

“A lot of quotes came across the nation. I read one today from the head coach of our upstate school,” Spurrier said. “You know that school that used to beat us a lot but doesn’t beat us much anymore. Usually, when that coach up there talks about South Carolina, it’s a bunch of garbage and a bunch of BS, usually. But I have to agree with him on what he said the other day. He said, ‘Marcus Lattimore stands for what’s right about college football.’ ”

Swinney said he took it as a compliment.

“I think that was what he was trying to do,” he said. “I do take it as a compliment that he would use something that I said to compliment one of his players.”

He reiterated his earlier remarks Tuesday when asked.

“Football’s a violent game, injuries happen, people get hurt all the time,” he said. “I meant exactly what I said. Marcus is a quality, quality person. And I really believe if anybody can come back, he will and I hope he does.

“I’m disappointed that we won’t get a chance to compete against him because he’s a great competitor,” he said. “I want to be the best. I want to play the best.”

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