Steve Spurrier returned to his de facto home state Thursday and offered a holiday plan for his old team.
“I think we will have a big turnout of Gamecocks down here, and somebody told me the Gators are going to be home for the holidays, so maybe we can get a bunch of Gators at our ball game and help fill up the stands here,” South Carolina’s coach said during a news conference for the Capital One Bowl.
Even for Florida fans who still love their former coach, that comment had to sting. While the Gators won’t be in a bowl game this season for the first time in 23 years, Spurrier is leading South Carolina to a school-record sixth straight bowl. He and Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen appeared Thursday at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium to begin promoting the Jan. 1 game between the 10-2 and eighth-ranked Gamecocks and the 9-3 and 19th-ranked Badgers.
“We will have fun,” Andersen said. “Their phones should be full of pictures of them enjoying themselves, but this team has been great all year long about shifting focus. When it’s time to practice, they will practice. When it’s time to have fun, they’ll have fun. They have been great about handling their business. They will enjoy themselves trust me, and we’ll be ready to play.”
The Gamecocks are shooting for their third straight 11-2 season, and Spurrier was asked Thursday if South Carolina’s fans are spoiled by the success.
“I guess you are asking, ‘Do you catch a bunch of crap if you lose a game?’ ” Spurrier said. “Now that we have won 10 and 11 (wins) and so forth if we slip back to 7-5 then you are going to get criticized, which is part of the game. That’s just the way it is. We have sort of eased our way up there, and we are still up there right now. Hopefully we can stay there for quite a while.”
This is also the third straight year the Gamecocks have failed to appear in the SEC championship game, a topic Spurrier addressed.
“This year was similar to the last three years in that we beat the division winner, but we lost two and they didn’t lose again,” Spurrier said. “If we want to win the division maybe we need to just try to beat everybody and we might can get there.”
The Badgers are a one-point favorite.
“We all know it’s one of the best bowls in America and our players and our team, we are really fired up to be here,” Spurrier said.