Why this year's Carolina-Clemson clash feels different
When Steve Spurrier was hired by South Carolina in 2005, he immediately started telling Gamecocks fans and players that they needed to worry less, not more, about beating Clemson.
“When I got there, a couple of the older people would say, ‘If you beat Clemson, you can lose the rest of them.’ I’d say, ‘I’d rather win them all and lose to Clemson because that’d put us 11-1 instead of 1-11,’ ” Spurrier told The State. “I think the attitude of the Gamecocks changed a little bit to understand we played 12 games, not just one a year. You try your best to win all of them.”
In changing that attitude, Spurrier also managed to turn around a series that historically had always gone against the Gamecocks. South Carolina was 6-4 against Clemson in the 10 games Spurrier coached, including an unprecedented five-game winning streak from 2009 through 2013.
However, the series didn’t start so well for Spurrier. South Carolina lost three of its first four games against the Tigers during his tenure, and it looked like his strategy of not focusing so much on Clemson might backfire.
“When I got there, there were all kinds of signs all over the coach’s office and down in the locker room, ‘Beat Clemson.’ ‘Beat Clemson,’ ” Spurrier said. “We took all those down. To me, if you have their name all over the place, you are sort of putting them on a pedestal. We didn’t want our guys to think they were any different than any of the other teams we were going to play. That’s my attitude, treat every game the same.”
Eventually, that approach paid off, starting with a 34-17 win over Clemson in 2009 and extending through a 31-17 win in 2013. That winning streak remains the longest in the series history for South Carolina and it equaled the number of wins the Gamecocks had managed in the previous 21 seasons.
“Our guys just played very well. Our team outplayed Clemson,” Spurrier said. “I don’t know if we were all that much better, but we were the day or the night of those games. We won all of them by 10 points or more. There weren’t any nail biters.”