Steve Spurrier staged a bizarre public service announcement Friday afternoon in an attempt to take heat off his prize recruit and the Columbia Police Department.
Following the Gamecocks’ practice, Spurrier had chief of police Randy Scott interrupt his media session, direct him 10 feet from a group of reporters and television cameras and place him in handcuffs for about a minute.
“Chief Scott said there was a robbery and somebody called and said it looked like the head ball coach at South Carolina,” Spurrier said after Scott released him from the handcuffs. “I had to tell him I didn’t leave practice all day today, and he said it was OK. It’s not embarrassing to be handcuffed. That’s what I’m trying to say.”
Spurrier was reacting to an incident early Friday morning in which Jadeveon Clowney, the nation’s No. 1 recruit and a South Carolina signee, was briefly handcuffed and questioned about a report of an armed robbery in Five Points.
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“He should not have been around town at two in the morning, but he was with some (high school) teammates,” Spurrier said. “Somebody said the guy that was the robber was a tall guy that looked a lot like Jadeveon. So they went in and questioned him, didn’t know who he was and cuffed him up the way I just got cuffed up. A lot of people would probably get upset getting handcuffed, but the police have a tough job to do. They don’t know who has a gun that’s going to shoot them or not.”
Scott said his officers acted “appropriately” during the incident and also defended Clowney.
“I want to make it clear that (Clowney) did nothing wrong,” he said. “He was not drinking. He was not consuming any alcohol and hopefully we will see him on the USC football field.”
Spurrier normally doesn’t speak after Friday practices during the spring, but he asked sports information director Steve Fink to inform media members around lunchtime that he would be talking Friday.
Clowney’s questioning took place at about 2:30 a.m. outside Pavlov’s bar. Spurrier spoke with Clowney on Friday afternoon.
“I said, ‘Jadeveon, you weren’t down there drinking and being loud and making a disturbance, were you?’ He said, ‘Coach, I don’t even drink,’” Spurrier said. “I wish he hadn’t gone, and hopefully he’s going to learn not to go down there real soon.”
The incident predictably created a stir in Columbia. A blurry photo that shows Clowney being searched by a police officer was circulated online early Friday, and a short YouTube video was posted Friday afternoon that shows people chanting, “USC, USC” and “Clowney, Clowney” and surrounding a person who appears to be Clowney.
“You get a picture of him on the Internet, and it’s, ‘What’d he do? What’d he do? He’s arrested. He’s going into the jar.’ But it wasn’t the case,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully, we all can learn that a person can get handcuffed and the police are just doing their job and it’s no big deal. Now, if they take you downtown and keep you a few days, then we have some issues, right Chief?”
Clowney was in “two or three bars” Friday, said Spurrier, who added he would not ban his players from Five Points.
“All the fans started chanting, ‘Clowney, Clowney’ again,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully, he’ll get tired of everybody saying ‘Clowney’ and, hopefully, out there in that stadium is the next time people are going to start chanting, ‘Clowney, Clowney.’ That would be the next time I hope to hear that.”