THE DRAMA ESCALATES …
As we noted earlier this week University of South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier is in the midst of yet another hissy fit related to columnist Ron Morris of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper. We know … this is so 2011, but alas … here we are again.
Originally, we took Morris’ side on this issue because we believed his most recent criticism of Spurrier regarding an on-field personnel issue was valid – if not accurate. You know, unlike most of the crap he writes.
In fact we encouraged Spurrier to drop the attitude and grow up. Since then, however, we’ve learned that Morris dropped a “Penn State” bomb on the USC coach – essentially comparing his petulance with the press to the child sex abuse scandal that rocked Happy Valley last year.
Yeah … he actually went there.
That’s when we stopped defending Morris … although we still believe Spurrier’s insistence on punishing the entire Gamecock press corps just to make a point/ apply pressure on the columnist is not only incredibly juvenile, but also a disservice to Gamecock fans who rely on these outlets for information.
Anyway … what’s the latest with this drama?
Well, on his weekly radio show Spurrier confirmed what everyone already knew … that his refusal to answer questions at recent press conferences was due to his spat with Morris …
One of the local writers wrote another nasty article last week. It was very negative and critical towards me. It slandered my name and my integrity. The guy is trying to tarnish and ruin my reputation as a coach. That’s OK. I don’t dislike this guy, I really don’t. Because we all know who the guy is and that’s the kind of person he is…
I told my wife after the last article, ‘I’ve had it. I’ve had enough. I’m not going to take it anymore. I’ve had enough.’ Almost all of the Gamecocks say, ‘Coach, don’t pay any attention to him, he’s insignificant,’ which he is. He is not an important person. But they’re not having their name and reputation slandered. So, I’m the one. It’s not my mode of operation to not say anything about it. So, this is my voice here. He gets his voice in the newspaper, which he uses…
I think we need to make some changes. I think some positive changes are going to happen. They have a little problem over there that we know about, but they’re working on it. Our president and our athletic director, they’re all backing me in this.
Spurrier later added that he was feeling empowered because his program was “in uncharted waters right now.”
“We’re winning,” he said. “It used to be cool to try to trash and bash the head coach, from what I’ve learned. But it’s not cool anymore. I don’t think I have to put up with that anymore.”
That’s when the coach upped the ante in a big way …
“I’m not taking any more of this stuff that’s coming out of our local paper anymore,” Spurrier said. “If that’s part of the job, I’ll head to the beach. That’s not part of the job. So, we’re going to get it straightened out.”
So in other words if The State doesn’t fire Ron Morris, Spurrier will quit?
Good Lord … never in our years of covering South Carolina athletics (or South Carolina politics) has so much importance been conveyed on so thoroughly unworthy an individual. Seriously, making a career decision on the basis of something Ron Morris writes is about as wise as taking stock advice from an infant (and not one of those talking E-Trade babies either – an actual crying, pooping infant).
Several SEC websites – most notably Mr. SEC - are attempting to parse Spurrier’s words, but we don’t see any way he didn’t mean precisely what he said.
So what happens next? Who knows … but a gauntlet has definitely been laid down, and Spurrier has made it clear that he has the support of USC athletics director Ray Tanner and USC president Harris Pastides as he escalates the drama (which wasn’t the case a year ago).
Spurrier’s sixth-ranked Gamecocks (4-0, 2-0 SEC) are three touchdown favorites over Kentucky this weekend, a game that will be televised nationally at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday by ESPN2.
UPDATE: Looks like the Spurrier threat is working. WOLO TV 25 (ABC – Columbia, S.C.) just announced that it is severing its relationship with Morris – who provided regular content to the station as part of its regular “Mondays with Morris” series. “Free speech, while it has expanded to many other areas of our lives, was originally put in place to protect media and writers from government censorship,” WOLO’s station manager said. “It does not, however, protect the writer from consequences in the realm of public opinion or the marketplace.”