South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is aware that the words he and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney have shared with their respective fan bases in recent weeks have become headline news.
Spurrier doesn’t think it should be such a big deal.
“I don’t think we’ve really thrown (barbs) much,” the Head Ball Coach said to the media at halftime of the South Carolina basketball game against Ole Miss on Saturday. "I think (media members) blow that up a little bit.
“Obviously our fans love beating Clemson. The old-time Gamecock fans have suffered for years and years and years. So they’re enjoying it and they should enjoy it because they’ve been on the short stick most of the time.”
Spurrier, whose Gamecocks have won the last five meetings with the Tigers for the first time in the history of the program, says he’s not trying to take shots at Clemson or fire up any other fan base.
“I’m talking to our people,” Spurrier said. “Talk is just all talk. It’s for our people. It’s not for others schools’ people. And when Dabo talks, it’s for his people.”
The state’s most high profile coaches have caused a stir at times with their back-and-forth exchanges through the media, beginning in December of 2011, but all was quiet in the 2013 season until the bowl games this year. During rivalry week, Spurrier and Swinney were very complimentary of each other and talked about their friendly relationship, not any kind of war of words.
After the Gamecock beat Wisconsin 34-24 the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, Spurrier said winning two of the last three Orlando bowl games were “pretty nice, but that state championship ain’t bad either.”
That didn’t sit well with the Clemson fan base, and after the Tigers won the Orange Bowl two days later, Swinney fired back.
“We’re the first team from South Carolina to ever win a BCS game,” Swinney said to the Orange faithful after the 40-35 win over Ohio State on Jan. 3.
Swinney used a similar line last week when the Clemson football team was honored at halftime of a basketball game against Duke.
“It doesn’t bother me, I can assure you, anything (Swinney) says,” Spurrier said. “That’s what we do in the offseason. We have to talk a little bit so I’m talking to the Gamecocks. The other people shouldn’t listen to me, but they may anyway. I don’t know.”
When USC was honored Saturday for its 11-2 season (the same record as Clemson in 2013), Spurrier mentioned several of the program’s accomplishments – and made sure he saved the historic win over the Tigers for last.
“Another streak that we’ve got going right now, it’s not a three-year streak, not four-year. It’s a five-year,” Spurrier said to the crowd. “We’ve been fortunate to beat that big orange team from Upstate about five straight years, pretty convincingly.”
Spurrier also recognized former receiver Bruce Ellington, who caught three touchdowns in his three-year career against Clemson, which Spurrier pointed out was better than Clemson star receiver Sammy Watkins.
“I think that's three more (TDs) than their first-round pick,” Spurrier said.