No planetary discussions this time. Just good-natured hobnobbing to aid a great cause.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney met with other instate coaches on Wednesday in Columbia to help with the South Carolina Coaches for Charity event. Fisher DeBerry, an S.C. native and Hall of Fame coach, hosted the gala to benefit his foundation, which assists children of single-parent families.
“Fisher DeBerry and his foundation do a super job,” Spurrier said. “What they do with some inner-city kids, kids from difficult backgrounds, they send them to camp, get them in a Christian environment, teach them some life skills, make life better for these young men who might not have had a chance. I think all of us coaches really enjoy doing this.”
Each coach – Spurrier and Swinney were joined by Wofford’s Mike Ayers, Furman’s Bruce Fowler, S.C. State’s Buddy Pough and The Citadel’s Mike Houston – chooses a charity that benefits from his participation. The first four years of the event raised more than $200,000 to help send children to FCA summer camps, and the live and silent auctions on Wednesday seemed to be well on their way to substantially padding that total.
The coaches met on stage for a roundtable and the watch was on to see when Spurrier and Swinney would tweak each other’s noses. The debate of the summer – whether or not Pluto is a planet – was again answered on Tuesday when Swinney was at ESPN’s ACC Car Wash.
“It was a planet when I was at Alabama,” Swinney said then. “News travels slow there. But I’m going to see (Spurrier on Wednesday). We’ll probably have a good laugh over this.”
The two coaches did. Smiling and entertaining the packed ballroom, each coach gigged each other but didn’t mention Pluto. They left that to the auctioneer, who pointed to Swinney and said he wore his necktie in honor of him.
“I bought it in Pluto, Florida,” he said. Swinney grinned.
Spurrier took the microphone and pointed out that he’d been celebrating Clemson’s win-loss record under Swinney.
“I’ve been bragging on you guys, I really have,” Spurrier said. “The better they do, when we beat them, it makes us look better. You don’t want to beat somebody with a bad record.”
Swinney smiled and returned the favor. After professing his respect for Spurrier, he mentioned that he played against him while at Alabama. “Had a chance to sack his punter in the SEC Championship Game,” Swinney said. “He probably don’t remember that. But we’re going to keep trying to win, and hopefully we can get this thing turned the other way. He’s whupped us on the field, and now I come here and he’s trying to get my wife to weigh in on it, too. I’m going to draw the line in the sand right there.”
The two coaches laughed and shook hands as the program concluded.
Each coach also chose a community service MVP from their school to honor at the event. Swinney brought longtime Clemson administrator Bill D’Andrea, while Spurrier brought quarterback Dylan Thompson.
The Gamecocks will hold a team meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday as all players are set to report to campus. They begin fall camp at 7:15 p.m. on Friday.