As he gets ready to start a new season, Steve Spurrier is not quite done with the last one.
The South Carolina coach has had six months to put closure on the Gamecocks’ lethargic, 20-7 loss to Connecticut in the Papajohns.com Bowl. But Spurrier made it clear the loss to a Big East team at Birmingham’s Legion Field still sticks in his craw.
“Sometimes I’m asked, ticket sales are not quite where we hoped they would be. Well, I say, ‘Our fans remember the UConn game. And I remember the UConn game. And we weren’t very good,’” Spurrier said Wednesday following his annual media golf outing.
“And don’t tell us to forget it, because we’re not going to forget it. We’re going to try our best to never, ever have a performance like that again.”
USC managed 12 first downs and 205 yards against the Big East’s worst defense.
The Gamecocks return 15 starters and have been mentioned as possible challengers to Florida in the SEC East. The league’s media picked USC to finish third, a point behind Georgia.
“We’re a different team. We have different leaders, different players. It’s going to be a new team,” Spurrier said. “We think our guys will really compete. But until we do it, we’re all just in the process of trying to earn respect — not only of our fans, but fans all over the country. We need to go out and earn it.”
Johnson confirms earlier NCAA visit
Assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson said an NCAA official was on campus several months ago to interview sophomore defensive backs Stephon Gilmore and DeVonte Holloman about their recruitment by USC.
Johnson said another USC player might have been interviewed as well. He said the interviews were unrelated to the NCAA’s ongoing probe of agent activity that involves Gamecocks tight end Weslye Saunders.
Johnson recruited Gilmore and Holloman, who were teammates at South Pointe High in Rock Hill. Johnson said the players and their families told him there was nothing in their recruitment that would be of concern.
“It sounded to me like they were quizzed about all their recruiting process and some different things that went on,” Johnson said. “It happens quite frequently.”
-- Tight ends coach Jeep Hunter said the USC staff was waiting to hear from the school’s compliance office for an update on Saunders, who was interviewed by the NCAA this month about a Florida trip that might have been paid for by agents. Hunter said he is uncertain whether Saunders will practice when preseason drills begin next week. …
-- Spurrier expects Kenny Miles, who averaged 5.4 yards a carry in 2009, to be the starter at running back when camp begins. Spurrier said highly touted freshman Marcus Lattimore, who has been on campus since June, should know the offense and be ready to compete.