I understand that we as sports fans are not supposed to like or appreciate anything our rivals do. I live in city that swears nothing good has ever come from Pittsburgh, and a state that claims there is nothing beautiful about Michigan. Obviously, both are false. Sometimes we as fans, players, coaches, staff, and media need to set aside our fanaticism for our teams and appreciate what the other side does sometimes. The ability to do this not only shows how we as people have matured, but provides the youth amongst us valuable role models.
Other than the exciting fourth quarter between Tennessee and South Carolina, the biggest takeaway from last week’s game in Columbia was the loss of the Gamecocks’ Marcus Lattimore to a knee injury. Immediately after the injury, Lattimore’s teammates along with most of Tennessee team came to Lattimore’s side to wish him luck and a speedy recovery.
The opinion about Lattimore is unanimous; he is everything that is right with college football in an environment where it appears that everyone, including us fans, are so wrong.
Obviously, his teammates and coaches have nothing but praise for the man that Marcus Lattimore is, but even the coach at South Carolina’s in state rival, Clemson, had nothing but great things to say about Lattimore:
"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," Swinney continued. "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."
This quote has been seen and played many times. While I have personally never met Dabo Swinney, but I have no reason to believe these comments are not heartfelt. Therefore, you might ask, “What’s the issue, Damien?” Simple—Steve Spurrier.
The response of Steve Spurrier, 67, makes absolutely no sense at all. There are a number of things about Spurrier that are very enjoyable, but his reaction to Dabo Swinney’s comments were not:
"A lot of quotes came across the country and I read one today from the head coach at our upstate school," Spurrier said. "You know, that school that used to beat us a lot that doesn't beat us much anymore, that one [South Carolina has won the last three games in the series]. 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."
Really? I know it is hard to actually acknowledge a school and their coach by name, isn’t it? Exactly, didn’t think so. Feel free to set this rivalry aside for a few moments and recognize when the other person is taking the high road. In fact, even after you made these comments and Swinney was asked about your comments he gave the equivalent of “no comment,” so who now is the one who cannot be a mature adult?
Being small and petty about things like this doesn’t win you any football games, but it does make a lot of people lose respect for you.
The most amazing part of this piece is that I even had to write it. Spurrier’s boss, South Carolina Athletic Director, Eric Hyman, should have made Spurrier issue a public, on television apology not only to Lattimore and South Carolina fans, but to Dabo Swinney and Clemson fans. Swinney likely took a lot of heat internally for even addressing the subject [he shouldn’t have], and deserves an apology from Spurrier for acting like a child. Also, Eric Hyman should apologize for the delay in making Spurrier apologize.
Spurrier has threatened many times to leave and coach somewhere else, so Hyman and company should let him if they are not willing to make him pay for his actions. I think Steve Spurrier is one of the best coaches and recruiters in college football, but everyone has a boss and Spurrier’s needs to make him accountable for his actions.