Former South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier sat down for an interview this week with Mike Griffith of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s DawgNation and spoke about a variety of different topics.
Reflecting on South Carolina’s five-game winning streak over Clemson from 2009-13, Spurrier seemed to imply he thinks the Gamecocks got inside the head of Dabo Swinney’s teams during those years and that it contributed to the Tigers’ poor performance in those rivalry games.
“We had really good teams between 2010 and ’13, and then the 2009 game, we played extremely well and they did not play very well,” Spurrier said. “But yeah, we sort of got a little mental edge on them there for a while, and again, they would have a lot of turnovers, and we had very few. We just played better, and a lot of our guys had some of their best games. So, it was a good run there, but I think Dabo’s won six in a row since 2014 I believe it is. So, I think he’s either even or ahead of the Gamecocks right now.”
Spurrier lost to Clemson in his final full season as South Carolina’s head coach in 2014, and of course, the Tigers have won six straight in the rivalry series from 2014-19.
Swinney and Clemson went 2-5 in his head-to-head matchups with Spurrier and the Gamecocks from 2008-14. Overall, Swinney is 7-5 against South Carolina since 2008, when he became Clemson’s interim head coach.
“I think you can talk too much about your opponent sometimes, and then all the sudden, the game gets here and well let’s see, we’ve been talking about these guys for a month or two or all year, and then maybe you don’t play your best,” Spurrier said. “I really think that may have happened to Clemson a bit when we were able to beat them those five years in a row at South Carolina. Because Dabo had some good teams during those years, but they did not play well against us. They’d drop punts, have all kind of fumbles and stuff, and we were pretty error-free during those five years in a row that we were able to beat them.”
Spurrier also talked about the back-and-forth barbs that he and Swinney traded when they were both coaching the respective Palmetto State squads, saying he has a good relationship with Swinney but it was just a byproduct of the intense rivalry.
“I think Dabo’s a good friend. I consider him a good friend,” Spurrier said. “We had a little sort of chirping at each other when we were both coaching in the state of South Carolina because that’s a huge rivalry, Clemson and South Carolina. Those fans do not like to lose to the other team, I can tell you that right now. When I see some Gamecocks and they say Coach, I was there between ’10 and ’14 and ‘9 and ’13, they’ve got a smile on their face because they know we beat Clemson those years. And every now and then, I see a Clemson person that said, ‘I was at Clemson when we never beat you guys, and it was no fun.’
“So, it is a big rivalry in the state of South Carolina, and of course Clemson owns it right now. But I guess the Gamecocks, we had our day there between 2009 and 2013.”
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