Steve Spurrier has not been afraid to complain when he thinks South Carolina’s football schedule is unfair.
He did it in 2011, when he thought Georgia had an easier road to the Eastern Division crown, and again in 2012 when he thought the same thing. In 2013, he was unhappy when the Gamecocks had three straight road games in the middle of the season for the second time in three years.
As his team begins preparations for the 2014 season, Spurrier is no longer complaining. Last week, South Carolina’s 10th-year coach gave his administration a standing ovation for the schedule it has laid out for this year’s team.
Deputy athletics director “Charles Waddell deserves a big hand. He’s our schedule maker,” Spurrier said at his annual preseason media golf outing. “We have a beautiful schedule.”
Not only are SEC East opponents Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee all coming to Williams-Brice Stadium, where South Carolina boasts an NCAA-best, 18-game winning streak, but also the Gamecocks don’t have back-to-back road games for the first time since 1986.
“I mean, we still have to go play,” Spurrier said. “We could still fall flat on our face, we know that, but as far as the schedule, the timing of it it’s a pretty nice setup.”
And it’s front-loaded.
Not only do the Gamecocks open the season with a conference game against Texas A&M, but also they play four division opponents before the midpoint of the season. No other conference team plays more than three division opponents in that span, and the average of the other 13 SEC teams is two division foes in the first half of the season.
The Gamecocks’ five conference games before Oct. 11 also are an SEC high. No other league team plays more than three in that stretch.
“That’s the way it has sort of been,” Spurrier said. “We’ll play them whenever. I think it’s a very good schedule. You just have to play them one at a time and see what happens.”
The result of the schedule setup is that South Carolina could be in great shape, or conversely out of the SEC East race, before Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri and Tennessee play their third conference game.
“That’s just the way our schedule is. We are used to it,” senior wide receiver Damiere Byrd said. “There is always pressure to be ready out of the gate. It’s always the same thing every year.”