What was originally thought to be a classy gesture by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who, is not only the first woman to serve as Governor of the The Palmetto State, but also a graduate of the Clemson Tigers, has turned into another war or words between Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier and Tigers coach Dabo Swinney.
While Swinney was wrong last year after responding negatively to comments he thought Spurrier made, although it turned out not to be the case, it is Spurrier who is coming off as a classless fool this year.
After the gruesome injury suffered on Saturday in a South Carolina win over the Tennessee Volunteers, Marcus Lattimore was once feared to have had his football career ended due to the hit on his knee. It was one of the most difficult injuries to have ever been seen on television, and it did appear as if Lattimore’s career could be in jeopardy. But now, Spurrier and Lattimore are hopeful that the standout running back can take off the 2013 college football season and make a healthy return to the Gamecocks in 2014.
It will take a lot, but if any player is capable of overcoming another devastating injury, it is Lattimore.
Swinney happens to agree with that statement.
Speaking out about Lattimore after Haley had declared Monday “Marcus Lattimore Day” on the Gamecocks’ star’s 21st birthday, Swinney voiced his respect for his rival’s injury.
“It took my breath away,” Swinney said. “I was watching and it just breaks my heart. I mean, I just hurt for him and his family and his teammates. This is a guy that, to me, represents all the good things that college football should be about. He’s a guy I know personally. He’s a class young man and so is his family. I know how hard he has worked. If there is anybody I would bet on, it is Marcus Lattimore. I know it will be a long process, but I tell you what, I would put my money on Marcus Lattimore in a heartbeat. When he comes to terms with this, he will do everything he can to come back. My prayers go out to him and his family. I have been heavy-hearted for him. He is a winner in every regard. Hopefully we haven’t seen the last of him from a football standpoint. He has been a great representative for his family and his university. I will lift him up in my prayers.”
Nice comments from the coach of his school’s biggest and longest rival. It must have been even more difficult to praise South Carolina, considering they have taken the last three meetings against Clemson, all by a wide margin or victory. But I give Swinney credit for doing what every coach should do, and that is act respectfully when discussing players at other schools, especially a player such as Lattimore and especially after considering the nasty injury he suffered just two days earlier.
Spurrier, however, came off as a bit classless in responding to Swinney’s remarks.
“A lot of quotes came across the nation,” quipped Spurrier. “I read one today from the head coach of our Upstate school. You know that school that used to beat us a lot but doesn’t beat us much anymore. Usually, when that coach up there talks about South Carolina, it’s a bunch of garbage and a bunch of BS, usually. But I have to agree with him on what he said the other day. He said ‘Marcus Lattimore stands for what’s right about college football.’”
I don’t know why Spurrier couldn’t have just started with his final two sentences. Agree with Swinney about what he said about Lattimore about if anyone could come back from such an injury, it would be him. he didn’t have to start off by knocking the Tigers as a whole. This was not the time or the place.
That time and place will come when Clemson and South Carolina face off in the regular season finale for both teams on November 24 in Death Valley. It is always one of college football’s more heated rivalries. This year and this game promises to be no different.
Of course, that is partly due to the relationship of Spurrier and Swinney.
How you want to define that relationship is entirely your call.