HOOVER, Ala. — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier doesn’t necessarily sit in recruits’ living rooms emphasizing the chance to go 11-2.
The Gamecocks have posted that record three years running, but still were relegated to spectators for the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. So, Spurrier sells a shot at making history to prospects.
“I can assure you I tell those recruits, ‘If you come here, hopefully you’ll be on the first SEC championship team ever,’” Spurrier said Tuesday at SEC Media Days. “That’s still our goal. We haven’t quite done it. I think we’ve been close but not close enough.”
Of course, not too long ago South Carolina would have celebrated double-digit wins, nice bowl trips and three consecutive top-10 finishes. The Gamecocks did win the SEC East title in 2010, but have been 6-2 in the league each of the past three years.
Spurrier had glowing reviews of his current team, which figures to join Georgia as two of the favorites in the East. He praised the Gamecocks’ “wonderful attitude,” new starting quarterback Dylan Thompson, the defense and an offensive line he feels has a chance to be one of South Carolina’s best.
“I think coach Spurrier’s clear and we’re clear about our goal, and that’s to win the SEC East first and then the SEC,” Thompson said. “That’s a huge challenge, though. That’s been our goal for the past three years and we’ve fallen short. It just made us hungry, and I think the fans are getting that way. When you have a great leader like coach Spurrier, he’s not satisfied.
“We’ve been fortunate to win 11 games three years in a row, but that’s not enough for us. We’re going to do all we can to get there and more.”
Spurrier, 68, still seemed to be enjoying the ride at his 22nd media days’ trip, in the midst of what he calls the “talking season.”
The No. 4 finish in the Associated Press ranking last season was South Carolina’s best. The Gamecocks do have to replace eight starters, including No. 1 overall NFL pick defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
“We’ve got a good program now,” Spurrier said. “If we continue to work our tails off, hopefully we can keep it up.”
Spurrier also offered his take on Alabama coach Nick Saban’s success. He was asked about an off-season comment that Saban had underachieved at Alabama, despite winning three national titles.
“I just made the statement that I think they’ve had five No. 1 recruiting classes out of the last six years, which has got to make him the greatest recruiter in the history of college football,” Spurrier said. “Arguably, they’ve got the greatest collection of football players ever assembled for a college team. If the recruiting services are correct, and they’re pretty much correct.
“As long as they can recruit like that, they’re always going to be the favorites. I guess fortunately sometimes the team that plays the best is the team that wins instead of maybe who has all the best players.”
The Gamecocks are among the teams in hot pursuit of the Crimson Tide.