Steve Spurrier is excited to be in Shreveport for the Independence Bowl, but he understands that some South Carolina fans don’t share that feeling.
“We’ve been 11-2 the last three years, this year we are 6-6. Miami used to be playing for national championships. They are 6-6. That’s just the way life is,” Spurrier said. “Fans, once you have been up there and your team is having sort of an average year, it’s tough to sell tickets.”
While the Gamecocks are struggling to sell many of their 8,000 allotted tickets to the game, Spurrier pointed out that plenty is on the line for his team, most notably avoiding the program’s first losing season the 2003 team finished 5-7. It would be just the second losing season Spurrier has had in 25 years of collegiate coaching, joining the 5-6 record he posted in 1987 as a first-year coach at Duke.
“We’ve been fortunate in our bowl games lately. We have practiced very similarly so we will see what happens,” Spurrier said. “They are 6-6 like us, so somebody is going to be a winner and somebody is going to leave a loser. A lot on the line this game.”
The Gamecocks are 0-1 all-time in Shreveport. They lost to Missouri 38-31 to cap Spurrier’s first season in Columbia.
“This is a first class bowl,” Spurrier said. “They run it the right way. We are looking forward to the rest of the week. Hopefully, we will play a very good game Saturday.”
The Hurricanes also are 6-6 and trying to avoid their first losing season since 2007.
“Miami is a very good team,” Spurrier said. “I think they are 14th in the nation in defense and have maybe the best running back in school history (Duke Johnson), but for some reason they are 6-6. You watch them play, you wonder, ‘How did they lose this one or that one?’ This is a very fast, quick team that somehow ended up 6-6.”
Finding a spot
Former South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore could be a “student assistant” coach during spring practice, Spurrier said Tuesday.
“Anytime Marcus can be around it is good for the university,” Spurrier said. “I think the president wants him around, the athletic director, I do. We all want him around as much as we can. He’s a big reason as we all know that we went 11-2 and finished in the top 10 those years. After we signed Marcus, we got a lot of other outstanding players so he was the first really, big key guy.”
Lattimore, who was unable to get on the field in the NFL due to a devastating knee injury suffered as a junior at South Carolina, could not join the team as a graduate assistant until he finishes his collegiate degree.
Spurrier was born in Miami but did not spend enough time there for Spurrier to develop any bond with the Hurricanes. Spurrier and his family moved to Charlotte, N.C., before his first birthday.
“My dad was a Presbyterian minister, went up to Charlotte from there, then moved to East Tennessee,” he said.
Spurrier’s wife Jerri grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.