The South Carolina-Clemson rivalry has always been one that has brought out the worst in the coaches. Last year, it was Clemson's Dabo Swinney responding to a comment he thought South Carolina's Steve Spurrier made.
This year, Spurrier became the jackass.
On Monday, which the governor of South Carolina declared "Marcus Lattimore Day," Swinney thoughtfully addressed the injury to South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore suffered a dislocated knee and severe ligament damage against Tennessee and will have a long road of rehab back to football. Swinney offered his thoughts and prayers to Lattimore and his family.
"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."
Swinney's comments weren't malicious; they weren't heinous. There was no hidden message or agenda. They were the honest thoughts of a man setting aside the rivalry to acknowledge one of the nation's best players and his horrible injury.
But Spurrier didn't see it that way. No, Spurrier saw Swinney's comments as a way to throw another log on the South Carolina-Clemson fire during a rally that was supposed to be honoring Lattimore, not picking fights.
"A lot of quotes came across the country and I read one today from the head coach at our upstate school," said Spurrier, who refused to acknowledge Swinney's name. "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."
This was a chance — a moment — for bygones to be bygones. For both coaches to set aside the petty things and come together for the sake of Lattimore, but for some reason, Spurrier couldn't do it..
"I'm embarrassed for him," Swinney said Monday responding to Spurrier's comments. "That would be about the only thing I have to say about that."
Spurrier should be embarrassed, too. He could have graciously thanked Swinney or not mentioned it at all. Spurrier turned what could have been a gracious moment into something very sad and undercut Lattimore's day and made it all about himself.
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