The man has won an ACC title at Duke, for gosh sakes. Why not shoot for the moon?
In any discussion of the SEC this season, South Carolina winning the nation's toughest league probably won't come up.
|Cory Boyd says aiming high is part of Steve Spurrier's system. (AP)|
"We've raised our goals this year," Spurrier said. "We're going to try to win the conference. We felt like we've really increased our talent level at South Carolina. We've added a lot of players that we think are at a pretty close level with Florida, Georgia and Tennessee."
There are a couple of statements in there that normally would cause a message-board riot: " ... try to win the conference ...". That would be the first since 1969 for the Gamecocks (in the ACC) and second in the program's 113-year history.
Claiming talent that Carolina is on "a pretty close level with Florida, Georgia and Tennessee" should raise some eyebrows too.
Blasphemous, almost, except that Spurrier has the chops to back it up. South Carolina has won only 20 of 111 games against the Big Three. But Spurrier owns two of those victories in only two seasons.
Following up on that Duke miracle, Spurrier's Florida teams won six SEC titles and a national championship in the 1990s.
"I think some years we won it with maybe not the best talent," he said of his Gator days. "The best team doesn't always win the conference championship."
|4. South Carolina|
|6. Mississippi State|
|Team to beat:|
|Darren McFadden, Arkansas|
|Glenn Dorsey, LSU|
|Coach of the year:|
|Nick Saban, Alabama|
Spurrier pointed out that LSU might have had the best team in the SEC last season but didn't even make the championship game. That's a hint of where the Gamecocks stand. They certainly don't have the best talent in the SEC, but maybe their time has come.
"He's always big on trying to do things for the first time and trying to have bigger goals," running back Cory Boyd said. "You can't really win something unless you really install it in your mind. I think that's what he's trying to do with us."
The appetizer to '07 was three close losses to Auburn, Florida and Tennessee by a combined 15 points. Spurrier has recruited well, but is it good enough to help the Gamecocks this year?
You'd expect fifth-year senior quarterback Blake Mitchell to be a leader, but the player had to apologize in the offseason for some spotty summer-school attendance and was then suspended for the opener against Louisiana-Lafayette because of it. Boyd, a senior, is consistent, if not spectacular. The concern is at receiver, where Sidney Rice left early, leaving an average group behind.
The weird thing about the Spurrier era at Carolina is that the defense has been ahead of the offense. This season's unit has the best set of linebacker brothers in the SEC, Jasper and Casper Brinkley. Middle linebacker Jasper is an All-American type. Fifteen of the top 16 tacklers are back on D too.
If South Carolina is going to make its move, it likely will have to take two of three against the Big Three. The 'Cocks miss Alabama and Auburn.
For a program that was 3-5 in the league last year, winning the whole thing in Spurrier's third season might be asking too much. Or it might be just what the Mouth of South Carolina expected.
"I sort of feel lucky that I got a shot to be the coach there," Spurrier said, "to try to do some things for the first time ever."
|2007 Conference Previews|
|Sun Belt||Big 12|
Darren McFadden, Arkansas: Tailback, quarterback, Heisman candidate, Doak Walker award winner ... what else do you want him to do? The heart, soul and mind of the Arkansas conceivably could make a run at 2,000 yards.
Glenn Dorsey, LSU: Turned down the NFL for a shot at a national championship. Bad news for the SEC. Dorsey has the knack for collapsing offensive lines, which means he alters just about every play.
Predicted order of finish
|You better believe in Tim Tebow, Urban Meyer and the defending champs. (US Presswire)|
2. Georgia: There are issues in the front seven. Other than that (which is huge, by the way), the Dawgs are poised to make a run. The offense hinges on how much progress QB Matthew Stafford can make and if TB Kregg Lumpkin can finally realize his potential.
3. Tennessee: Phil Fulmer will have to go 5-7 or 6-6 to lose his job. That won't happen, but there is pressure on the venerable Vols coach. It's hard to project any higher than third with road games at Florida, Alabama and, yes, Kentucky.
4. South Carolina: Going into Spur Dog's third year, defense is still carrying this team. That's actually a good place to start in the SEC. But it would be nice if the Cock 'n' Fire could light it up once in a while.
5. Kentucky: This could be the SEC's most exciting team. The Wildcats have the conference's best quarterback (André Woodson) but an extremely shaky defense.
6. Vanderbilt: Even though they're being picked last, the Commodores will get the six victories necessary to go bowling for the first time since 1982.
|LSU's Glenn Dorsey has a question: Who's the team to beat in the SEC? (US Presswire)|
2. Auburn: No one is talking about the Tigers, but it's hard to doubt Tubs. He has won or shared the SEC West five of the last seven years. Brandon Cox must get the offense back on track.
3. Arkansas: Finally, football! McFadden will keep this team competitive. Pinning your hopes on the immortal Casey Dick is foolish, though. Houston Nutt lost too much on defense.
4. Alabama: This is Saban's honeymoon season, which means, this year only, 10-2 will be acceptable. Don't be surprised if Saban pulls it off. Mike Shula left a lot of talent.
5. Mississippi: All the talent that Coach O has stockpiled has to start paying off. Ed Orgeron can't afford another 4-8 season. Not a good sign that quarterback Brent Schaeffer has been moved to receiver.
6. Mississippi State: This is as hopeless a case as there is in the SEC right now. Sylvester Croom must win -- now -- or at least show significant improvement over 3-9. This is Croom's fourth year; recruiting should start making a difference.