Head ball coach, Gamecocks seeking even more

Steve Spurrier came to South Carolina six seasons ago hoping to

achieve things the Gamecocks had never done before.

And after crossing a couple more of those off the to-do list,

the Gamecocks’ head ball coach says his team’s goals aren’t close

to being reached.

No. 17 South Carolina is heading to its first Southeastern

Conference championship game after winning the East division by

ending an 0-12 streak at Florida, 36-14, on Saturday night. Now,

Spurrier wants the Gamecocks seeking bigger prizes.

”Once your horizons are expanded, then that’s where you’ve got

to stay. You don’t want to go backwards,” Spurrier said Sunday.

”We haven’t pushed this season near as far as we hope to.”

The Gamecocks (7-3, 5-3 SEC) moved up five spots in the latest


With the SEC finished, the Gamecocks have plenty of milestones

in play. They end can end the regular season with nine victories,

something done just twice in 116 previous years of football. They

can win two straight over bitter rival Clemson, which hasn’t been

accomplished since they took three in a row from 1968-70. And, of

course, the biggest prize left is out there when South Carolina

heads to the Georgia Dome in three weeks to face No. 2 Auburn for

the SEC championship.

”We do have a shot at winning the SEC. It’ll be difficult,”

Spurrier said. But ”that one’s down the road a little bit.”

Florida coach Urban Meyer had called for a ”Blue Out” at The

Swamp, encouraging fans to make things impossible for the

Gamecocks. Instead, it was South Carolina’s defense and freshman

runner Marcus Lattimore who bottled up the Gators.

The Gamecocks gave up just one offensive touchdown and Lattimore

rushed for a career high 212 yards.

”It was a letdown, but that was a good team we played out

there,” said Meyer, whose Gators fell out of the rankings from No.


Spurrier doesn’t plan to rest players against Troy and the

Tigers the next two weeks, not even Lattimore, who ran 40 times

against Florida.

He acknowledged how hard it will be to keep his young team

focused the next couple of weeks, especially with the celebrations

they’ve already seen from South Carolina fans. More than 2,000

turned out at Williams-Brice well past 2 a.m. Sunday to greet the

Gamecocks when they returned.

That capped a couple of hours of joy from Gamecocks fans who

filled bars, clubs and restaurants watching their team break

through at The Swamp for the first time in history. Spurrier’s

players carried him off the sidelines on their shoulders in front

of Gators fans who grew accustomed to Spurrier winning six SEC

crowns and the 1996 national championship as Florida’s coach from


But that’s the sort of hoopla you get when people haven’t had a

title to revel in since winning the ACC crown – the Gamecocks were

part of the Atlantic Coast Conference – in 1969.

”We celebrated a little bit more maybe than most teams winning

a division,” Spurrier said. ”We probably needed to celebrate a

little bit.”

Celebrations have become more of a habit at South Carolina in


The men’s basketball team kicked things off with its stunning,

68-62 victory over then top-ranked and undefeated Kentucky back in

January. The baseball team took over in June, winning the first

men’s NCAA championship of any kind in school history at the

College World Series. Spurrier and his Gamecocks have made it a

memorable fall.

Maybe even bigger than winning the East, Spurrier says, is South

Carolina defeating typical league powers Alabama, Florida, Georgia

and Tennessee in the same season. ”That was probably just a dream

10 years ago, six years ago and so forth,” the coach said. ”But

it’s reality now.”