Where's the arrogance?

New South Carolina head man Steve Spurrier says the SEC has changed significantly since he coached his final University of Florida team in 2001. Apparently, Spurrier has changed significantly since then, too.

He still speaks his mind but he doesn't seem nearly as cocky and sharp-tongued as before. For instance, he isn't predicting great offensive production by this year's Gamecocks. That's because he says the league's defenses are a lot more complex than they were when he assumed the Florida reins 15 years ago.

"When I got there in 1990 everybody thought to win the conference championship you had to play defense and run the ball," he said at the recent SEC Media Days in Birmingham. "You couldn't be a passing team at all and win the conference championship. That was sort of the thinking."

Because SEC defenses geared up to stop the run in those days, Spurrier's pass-oriented Fun 'n Gun attack enjoyed tremendous success in the early 1990s.

"The defenses were not all that sophisticated against the pass," he recalled. "But now everybody has got fast players, and they disguise. They're all over the place, and you don't know what they're playing. It was a lot easier in the early '90s."

When a reporter noted that Spurrier seems less outspoken than he did in his previous SEC tour of duty, the Gamecock coach grinned.

"I wasn't quite as loud and arrogant as all of you thought," he said. "All of the cute comments usually occurred at Gator clubs in the middle of the summer. When you're talking to your booster people they want to hear something funny. (Florida State coach) Bobby Bowden has told Gator jokes for years, and we don't think a thing about it. But I go to one of these things and tell something and it gets all over the country. I never said those things during the season. It was just summer talk."

Maybe so, but Spurrier is monitoring his "summer talk" a lot more closely than he did in the old days at Florida. He insists he didn't say anything to Gamecock booster groups this summer that might wind up on an opposing team's bulletin board.

"I'm just learning it doesn't pay to make cute remarks," he said, "even though it's just in fun or jest with your booster people."

He showed remarkable restraint much moments later, when a reporter asked how much it would mean to beat Florida, which could've rehired him several months ago but instead chose to bring in Urban Meyer. The old Spurrier would've fired off a zinger. Not the new Spurrier, though.

"I don't have to worry about that today," he said. "Our next game is Central Florida. That's the one that concerns us the most right now … the next one."

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