Spurrier, Swinney mum before rivalry game
NOV 20, 2012 1:49p ET
Steve Spurrier and Dabo Swinney have been so cordial this week they've done everything but send flowers to each other.
Maybe they've decided that Saturday's annual rivalry game between No. 12 South Carolina (9-2) and 11th-ranked Clemson (10-1) has matured to a point that they no longer need to bring attention to it with a war of words. This is the first time these teams will play with both among the top 15 teams in the BCS. And this is only the second time in 109 meetings that both teams have at least nine wins.
Here's Spurrier: "I like Dabo. I think he is a wonderful guy and excellent coach. He and I, and I think our wives, get along real well, but every now and then just to keep the rivalry going, he and I need to say a little something to stir up emotions here or there."
Here's Swinney: "Whenever I'm around him, our relationship has always been very cordial. I've got a lot of respect for him as a football coach and the success he's had. But it's not about me and coach Spurrier. It's about the guys playing in the game, and that's where we need to keep the focus."
Tuesday's press conferences passed without incident, with neither coach offering anything incendiary.
Spurrier didn't say much other than football-related answers and all Swinney said was this: "Coach Spurrier is an interesting guy. I don't really ever have a problem with him. From time to time … I don't think it's personal. He's got a long track record, and that's how he is. He likes to stir it up now and then."
What's up with the Mutual Admiration Society?
These guys used to be like pro wrestlers hollering at each other from opposite sides of the ring.
Spurrier has always found great joy in both beating and belittling opponents since his days at Florida. Back then, Florida State and Georgia felt the jabs from his quick wit and inclination to throw a lot of passes and a lot of gas on smoldering fires. The Bulldogs have remained a preferred target since Spurrier relocated to South Carolina in 2005, but Swinney and Clemson now often find themselves deflecting his barbs.
He's insulted Swinney, has inferred LSU's Death Valley is the only Death Valley and recently said Clemson "doesn't beat us like they used to."
It seems some of that has rubbed off on Swinney.
Last year, a few days after the Gamecocks defeated Clemson for the third consecutive year, he badmouthed everything sacred to South Carolina.
And just last month, Spurrier turned what seemed to be a sincere message from Swinney in the wake of running back Marcus Lattimore's devastating leg injury into an opportunity to tease the Tigers.
"A lot of quotes came across the nation," Spurrier said. "I read one today from the head coach of our Upstate school. … Usually, when that coach up there talks about South Carolina, it's a bunch of garbage and a bunch of BS, usually. But I have to agree with him on what he said the other day. He said, ‘Marcus Lattimore stands for what's right about college football.' "
Swinney initially said he was "embarrassed" for Spurrier, but later tempered his remarks by saying he thought it was a backhanded compliment.
"I know there was a roundabout way of getting there, kind of like me telling my wife, ‘I think you should wear this dress. This dress looks great on you. You don't look near as fat in that dress.' "
Don't give up on this yet.
There's still plenty of time for one of these guys to let something slip before Saturday's game at Clemson, where the Tigers have won 13 consecutive games.
"I think regardless of what their coach says or our coach says," South Carolina running back Kenny Miles said, "it's going to be a heated game."