USC Gamecocks Football

What Steve Spurrier thinks of Jake Bentley, South Carolina’s chances in 2019

Steve Spurrier coached more than two decades of SEC football. He’s not sure he ever faced a schedule like South Carolina’s this season.

The unrivaled champion of “talkin’ season” — a phrase he coined — Spurrier was at SEC Media Days for an event Tuesday with Archie Manning and Herschel Walker. He wasn’t sugarcoating his thoughts about what the Gamecocks are looking at in 2019, but he spoke highly of the job Will Muschamp has done across three years.

“He’s doing fine,” Spurrier said. “He’s doing well. They’ve got a tough schedule, got a very difficult schedule. If he can get through that with six, seven, eight wins, it’ll be a heck of a year.”

Muschamp has won six, nine and seven games across his first three seasons in Columbia, but the 2019 slate is among the most daunting in the country. South Carolina will face the No. 1, 2 and 3 teams in most preseason polls, plus Florida, Texas A&M, a Kentucky team that won 10 games last season and an Appalachian State squad that won 11.

Spurrier left the Gamecocks halfway through a 3-9 2015 season, and Muschamp was tasked with picking up the pieces. His first two teams improved on the previous year by three wins, but last year the momentum halted with a blend of poor play and a schedule that proved more difficult than expected.

Still, the season ended with a 28-0 loss to Virginia at the Belk Bowl, which cast a pall on much of the offseason. Spurrier, always a quarterback specialist, had his diagnosis for Bentley.

“He’s a good quarterback,” Spurrier said. “Obviously had a bad bowl game. But that will give him a lot to work on through the summer, and I’m sure he’ll be ready to go. He had what, 500 yards against Clemson?

“Sometimes in life, you’re as good as your last game. His last one wasn’t very good, as you know. He’ll earn it back.”

Bentley threw for the third-most yards and second-most touchdowns for a single season in Gamecocks history last season, but he loses his top target in Deebo Samuel. Muschamp and the Gamecocks speak Wednesday in Hoover.

Spurrier, now working as an ambassador for the University of Florida, was his usual jovial self, reminiscing about past SEC Media Days and cracks made about former rivals and his second chance to close with a win.

He spent a few months in the short-lived Alliance of American Football, coaching his Orlando team to the league’s best record. His final game at USC was a loss to LSU, and he got to end his AAF tenure with a win in Memphis, the same place his high school career came to a close.

He mentioned he’ll be coaching in the Polynesian Bowl All-Star Game against Frank Beamer.

But being around all the hubbub of SEC Media Days, would that possibly get him interested again in the college grind?

“Coaching four months a year,” Spurrier said. “That’s my gig now.”


Aug. 31 — North Carolina (2-9 last season)* 3:30 p.m., ESPN

Sept. 7 — Charleston Southern (5-6) noon, SEC Network

Sept. 14 — Alabama (14-1) 3:30 pm, CBS

Sept. 21 — at Missouri (8-5)

Sept. 28 — Kentucky (10-3)

Oct. 12 — at Georgia (11-3)

Oct. 19 — Florida (10-3)

Oct. 26 — at Tennessee (5-7)

Nov. 2 — Vanderbilt (6-7)

Nov. 9 — Appalachian State (11-2)

Nov. 16 — at Texas A&M (9-4)

Nov. 30 — Clemson (15-0)

*in Charlotte

West Coast raised. Midwest educated. Southern football indoctrinated. Covers most everything Gamecocks, primarily football.
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