BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Leave it to Steve Spurrier to again interject himself into the Notre Dame conversation. This time the unwitting victim was someone Spurrier had never met.
Connecticut coach Randy Edsall and Spurrier attended a joint news conference Thursday to promote South Carolina's appearance at the Jan. 2 Papajohns.com Bowl. Spurrier couldn't resist addressing published reports that Edsall interviewed Wednesday for the Notre Dame job, which is reportedly going to Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly.
"I look forward to spending a week here (in Birmingham)," Spurrier said. "I hope Randy ... well, he may be the Notre Dame coach by this game. Notre Dame would be wise to try and hire him."
Edsall grinned, shook his head in disbelief and blushed as the audience laughed. He finally stood up and said of Spurrier, "I thought you would be my friend."
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Edsall will make a return trip to Birmingham, after all. The South Bend Tribune reported Thursday that Kelly will be named Notre Dame's next coach. Multiple outlets reported that Edsall was a backup plan for Notre Dame if Kelly didn't work out.
"Coach, I know you're probably not shocked that subject came up," Papajohns.com Bowl spokesman Norm Reilly said to Edsall. "You probably didn't think it would come up from the opposing coach."
Speaking before news of the Kelly hiring broke, Edsall dodged questions about his reported interview with Notre Dame.
"Coach Spurrier has a lot more experience dealing with this than I do," Edsall said. "I'm going to say what I've said from the very beginning and what I've said in other situations that have come up. I'm the coach at the University of Connecticut. I will not comment on rumors or speculation or anything else regarding situations like that that come up. End of story."
As for the actual game, Spurrier said South Carolina's season-ending victory against Clemson puts the Gamecocks in better position this postseason.
South Carolina ended 2007 out of a bowl with a 6-6 record, thanks to a five-game losing streak. Last year, the Gamecocks dropped two in a row before losing to Iowa at the Outback Bowl. South Carolina had lost three straight this season before defeating Clemson 34-17.
"It certainly helps with our fans," Spurrier said. "They're upbeat, they're fired up since we beat Clemson. I'm sure UConn probably feels the same way (after finishing with three straight wins). You're as good as your last game, as we all know."
This isn't the first time Spurrier has come to Birmingham and tied Notre Dame into an uncomfortable moment for another coach.
Last spring at a golf tournament in Birmingham, Spurrier made national news when he said rumors still existed that Florida coach Urban Meyer might go to Notre Dame if he had one more big season in Gainesville.
Edsall was just the latest target.
"What are you doing to do?" Edsall said, sheepishly.
He's not telling. On another topic, Spurrier says he's learned his lesson and won't reveal his vote for the Heisman Trophy.
Spurrier said his Heisman ballot was secret, and he's keeping it that way.
Spurrier said he has learned to keep his mouth shut after the flap earlier this year when he revealed he hadn't voted for Florida quarterback Tim Tebow to be on the preseason All-SEC first team.