It's academic

HOOVER, Ala. - Steve Spurrier has lost more football games in his first five years at South Carolina (28) than he did in 12 years at Florida (27). He also has lost his outspoken nature, admitting as much during Thursday's SEC Media Days.

"I don't think I've won enough games lately to have any outlandish quotes," he said. "If you win a bunch of games it's pretty easy to give all the answers up here (at the podium). But we haven't won enough."

He got that right. South Carolina is 35-28 under his watch, including just 18-22 in SEC action. With no dynamic accomplishments on the field to recap, Spurrier spent several minutes recapping his team's achievements in the classroom.

For instance, 13 of a possible 14 players got degrees in Carolina's most recent graduating class. Moreover, last fall's freshmen compiled a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0, best in the conference.

"I never thought I'd get a bigger bonus for our guys graduating than I did for the bowl game but that's what I did this year," Spurrier sheepishly admitted. "I got a bigger bonus for our APR (Academic Progress Rate) improvement and our graduation and so forth."

Now that the Gamecocks are making the grade in the classroom, Spurrier needs to get them making the grade on the field. His last three teams have gone 6-6, 7-6 and 7-6. That has to be gut-wrenching for a guy who won 81.7 percent of his games at Florida, including 86.1 percent of his conference games.

"Again, our guys are going to class, they're graduating, they're staying out of trouble," Spurrier said. "We just need to win big."

Perhaps this is the year South Carolina proves it can challenge for an SEC title, a top-10 ranking and a BCS bid. The Gamecocks, of course, are optimistic.

"We're looking forward to this year, competing," Spurrier said. "I don't know what's going to happen. We've got a lot of good players that believe we have a chance to do something. That's all we've got right now - hope and belief that we have a chance to do something - because we haven't proven anything yet."


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