How much “negative recruiting” did South Carolina have to deal with this past year on the recruiting trail?
Steve Spurrier chuckled when asked that question by the AJC earlier this week.
Last December, that was a hot topic of conversation after Spurrier told The State newspaper to “give me two or three more years.” Colleges competing against South Carolina for recruits made sure recruits saw the comments by Spurrier, who will turn 70 years old next month. The Gamecocks suffered six de-commits before Spurrier publicly stated that he was back on the four-to-five-year plan a couple of weeks later.
So how much negative recruiting did the legendary coach feel was out there?
“I don’t think it was too bad,” Spurrier told the AJC this week.
“When you have a year like we have and the coach has been there a long time and has coached a long time, there’s always some rumors ‘Well, he’s not going to be there. If you go there, you don’t know who your coach is going to be (in the future).’
“I remember they used say that about Bobby Bowden all the time. In fact, I think his son Terry even said that to a recruit. And Bowden said something like ‘You tell Terry that I’ll still be coaching here when he’s fired and gone.’ And he was right. That’s just normal. So that’s just normal when a coach has done it a long time.
“Obviously we struggled a little bit in the middle of the year, last year. I think we lost four out of five in one stretch. But I’m proud of our team fighting back and having a winning season, and winning the bowl game.
“Right now, there are three teams from the Power 5 conferences that have won four straight bowl games – Michigan State, Texas A&M and us. So we’ve got a little something to brag about. Not a lot, but a little something. It’s pretty neat to say you’ve won four bowl games in a row. So that’s where we are right now. We’ve got a lot improvement we need to do, but hopefully we’re headed in the right direction.”
How was South Carolina’s recruiting efforts in Georgia this year? It got overshadowed by Arden Key, the Hapeville Charter defensive end who de-committed from the Gamecocks on two separate occasions before signing with LSU – but it was yet another strong year by Spurrier and his staff within the state. Ten of South Carolina’s 29 signees were from Georgia.
“So (this past) year we picked four or five the last couple of weeks of the recruiting season, and maybe lost four or five,” Spurrier said. “But it all worked out. Maybe the ones we picked were better than the ones we lost? Who knows? Only time will tell.”
Why does South Carolina always seem to have a strong recruiting presence in Atlanta and the state of Georgia under Spurrier?
“Obviously, there are lots of players in Georgia,” he said. “And we’ve got a successful football program here (at South Carolina). Almost all the schools in the country recruit Georgia. But we’re in sort of a good location – we’re about a three-hour drive from Greater Atlanta. That, and we’ve been winning pretty well, although last year we barely won. And we have got an excellent university here and so forth. So that’s why (we recruit well in Georgia). This is a good place for those kids to go to college.”