Having once received a handwritten letter from Steve Spurrier in which I, humble scribe, was described using a term most often reserved for the barnyard, I know full well that the man with the massive ego isn’t above taking umbrage over the slightest of slights. So it was with some amusement that I learned of the fit he threw in the direction of the State’s Ron Morris today.
Short version: The Evil Genius walked into his weekly press conference and ripped into Morris, who was sitting in the room. (Information is provided by WISTV.com, which also offers a helpful video of Spurrier’s bizarre spiel.) The E.G. informed the assembled media that he needed to “get something off my chest.” He then took Morris to task for a column he’d written this spring on Spurrier’s “borrowing” of Bruce Ellington from the South Carolina basketball program. Morris’ description of the E.G.’s “courting” of Ellington, was, quoth Spurrier, “a fabrication.”
So Spurrier offered the rest of the media this one-time-0nly deal: He’d go off elsewhere and do one-on-ones with the TV stations, and when he returned he’d brief the print/Internet folks. Only trouble was, Morris was there when the E.G. made his reappearance. So Spurrier left, his rationale being that he wasn’t going to help Morris write negative things about his program.
I’ve seen this Spurrier in action, and it’s at odds with the usual plainspoken and entertaining E.G. Before the SEC title game in 1994 here, he refused to answer — or even take — a question from Larry Guest, then the columnist for the Orlando Sentinel. Guest and Spurrier had had a running contretemps, and it was my use of a printed Guest nugget that prompted the handwritten note mentioned by Mark Bowden in his New Yorker profile of Spurrier. (The nugget: Guest wrote that Spurrier sought to have a Gainesville Sun beat writer reassigned after the writer gave Auburn’s Terry Bowden the edge over the E.G. in one of those matchup-box things.)
For the record, I enjoy watching Spurrier in interview mode. (Who doesn’t?) I don’t enjoy it when a big-time coach tries to bigfoot a local writer. Mr. Morris is a fully accredited member of the media. He has every right to be sitting where he was. It’s part of the job. For the E.G. to decide, apparently after months of stewing, that he’d make a big deal of an old column was the height of unprofessionalism, not to mention immaturity.
Let’s also note the timing: Spurrier didn’t make his strange little stand after his Gamecocks had gotten whipped by Auburn. He did it a week later, after South Carolina had beaten Kentucky 54-3. Funny how that worked.
And for those who are saying: “Bradley, you just hate Spurrier because he called you a bad name?” … for the record, I don’t hate him. But I get called bad names on this little blog on a daily basis and I have, via necessity, developed a thick skin. The E.G. would be well served to do the same.
Oh, and that wasn’t the only strange news emanating from Columbia today: In a statement, South Carolina announced that the oft-suspended and recently deposed quarterback Stephen Garcia is no longer a Gamecock. We can only assume Garcia’s final offense was in saying, “You know, Ron Morris is a really fine writer.”
By Mark Bradley