Steve Spurrier doesn’t get too hung up on trash talk from his players or opponents. But there are some words the South Carolina coach doesn’t want to hear his team called.
“We don’t really pay much attention to what the other guy says unless he says we’re a bunch of losers and a bunch of quitters,” Spurrier said Thursday at his annual media golf outing. “Those are two words that would fire me up if the other team said that.”
The topic has percolated over the last week after star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney declared at the SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., that Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray were scared of him and the USC D-Line during last season’s games, both won by the Gamecocks.
Boyd and Murray insisted they aren’t afraid of Clowney, but they do respect his ability. The issue is likely to remain a point of discussion until the two games.
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But Spurrier isn’t going to silence his players. That’s not his style.
“I wish he hadn’t said it, but I don’t put a muzzle on guys talking,” he said. “I realize we’re all different. We’re not all like Marcus Lattimore. He never said a bad word about anybody. Players grow up now days in junior high and high school talking a little smack. As long as it doesn’t get out of hand, I don’t have too much trouble with it.”
There are times, however, when Spurrier will draw the line with a player who gets too talkative.
“The problem is if you’ve got a loudmouth guy that doesn’t play worth a crap. Then you’ve got a problem,” he said. “Some of them, we do have to say, ‘You don’t need to be talking until you can play a little bit.’ ”
He also doesn’t want too much chatter to distract his players or perhaps annoying the officials. Sometimes, the coach would have to get verbose defenders such as D.J. Swearinger and Victor Hampton to ease up on the verbal barrages.
“It seems like almost every game, the referee would come over and say, ‘Coach, you need to tell your No. 36 and 27 to keep their mouth shut,’ ” Spurrier said. “So coach (Lorenzo) Ward and those guys bring them over there and say, ‘Would you guys just play football for a while?’ It’s sort of something they all grow up with, and hopefully, they control it better.”
Spurrier didn’t remember as much trash-talking during his playing days with Florida in the 1960s. Of course, he joked that the media attention wasn’t quite like it is today.
“When I played, I don’t even know if we had press conferences before the games. So you didn’t worry about anybody saying anything,” he said.
But Spurrier did remember a game when he coached Florida and defensive lineman Ed Chester predicted that he would force a fumble against Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning — a boast Chester made good on.
In the end, Spurrier said, it’s all about playing the game of football and not talking about it.
“When that ball’s kicked off, nobody gives a dang,” he said. “As long as nobody plays dirty, talk is cheap. Talk is really cheap.”
Production always wins out over conversation for him.
“We don’t want to be a mouthy team,” he said. “We’d rather be a good-playing team.”