May 2, 2013

Kenny Chesney and Steve Spurrier, together again

The friendship between the coach and the superstar dates back to at least 2007.

The friendship between Steve Spurrier, the University of South Carolina football coach, and Kenny Chesney dates back to at least 2007.

In April of that year at a concert at the Colonial Life Arena, the country music superstar brought Spurrier on stage. Chesney sang “Happy Birthday” to Spurrier and gave a cake to the coach, who, naturally, took a poke at Clemson fans.

“If they weren’t friends before that, I’m sure they’ve been friends since,” Global Spectrum’s Lexie Boone, general manager of Colonial Life Arena, said.

It seems like an unlikely friendship, given their professions. But also because Chesney, who was a guest picker for ESPN’s “CollegeGameday” last season, is a Tennessee fan.

Wasn’t it Spurrier who once said, “You can’t spell Citrus without UT,” an obvious dig at Tennessee’s previous bowl fortunes?

Chesney is an unquestioned football fan. He went to “Jon Gruden’s QB Camp,” an ESPN segment where Gruden, an affable “Monday Night Football” analyst and former NFL coach, sits down with the year’s top quarterback draft prospects. There was footage of Chesney at a New Orleans Saints training camp, an outing Gruden put together for Chesney who wore a No. 7 Saints jersey.

But Chesney didn’t participate in drills. He said he told a Saints receiver coach that, “I don’t want to block and I don’t want to go across the middle.”

How would Spurrier feel about a player who said as much?

“Spurrier knows it,” Chesney said in a phone interview. “And I’ve become pretty good friends with Steve. I’d tell Steve the same thing.”

He’ll get the chance to tell him in person. Not only will Spurrier be in Williams-Brice for the concert, but Spurrier plans to be on stage.

Spurrier has had a No. 7 Gamecocks jersey made for Chesney, and he hopes to present it during the concert.

Gamecocks equipment manager Chris Matlock was responsible for having the Chesney jersey made.

“Matlock came by, and I said we’ll see if Kenny will answer (his phone),” Spurrier told The State before the Gamecocks’ spring game.

“He doesn’t answer all the time, but he answered this time. He said, ‘Hey coach.’ I said, ‘We got a jersey here for you.’” The No. 7 is a nod to Chesney’s high school number, not Jadeveon Clowney.


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