Three years ago yours truly paid a midweek visit to Columbia, S.C., for Steve Spurrier’s weekly briefing. Toward the end, I mentioned that a brand new AJC.com poll had just reconfirmed that the Ol’ Ball Coach was — ahead of even Urban Meyer, who was coming off a BCS title — the man Georgia fans most loved to hate.
“Glad they haven’t forgotten me,” said Spurrier, who seemed pleased.
Postscript: Four days later, Spurrier and South Carolina came to Sanford Stadium and beat Georgia 16-12.
The Bulldogs have nothing to do with this year’s SEC championship game, which will be staged Saturday at the Georgia Dome. (Fun fact: Seven different SEC schools have qualified for the title game since last Georgia did in 2005.) But Spurrier will be here, and he might actually be the sentimental favorite. Because here are your choices:
• In one corner, the Evil Genius and his Gamecock minions, who are new to this championship thing.
• In the other, RoboCoach Gene Chizik and Nick UnFairley and, lest we forget, Cam Newton.
Auburn fans love their team. Almost nobody else does. Let’s state for the record that Newton is the nation’s best player and Fairley its best defender, but we also must concede that the Tigers lead the world in irrational exuberance.
This isn’t to say South Carolina has been without sin. Tight end Weslye Sanders was kicked off the team without playing a down this season, and several Gamecocks apparently got the William Shatner rate at Columbia’s Whitney Hotel over the summer. And that “2001″ introduction at Williams-Brice Stadium was pretty tired back in … well, 2001.
But Auburn, as we know, has become the new standard in raised eyebrows, what with Fairley’s repeated slams of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray (see YouTube video below) to the series of revelations/allegations that led to Newton being declared ineligible by Auburn. (He was re-instated, after a timeout of one day, by the NCAA.)
Viewed alongside strutting Auburn, the Gamecocks seem rather gentlemanly. So now I’m asking a question I never thought I’d ask: Georgia fans, are you rooting for Spurrier?
Or, put another way, is there really a cold front bearing down on Hades?