South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier has never been known to hold back his opinion, and at his media day news conference Sunday, the Gamecocks head coach offered what could be perceived as a slight at the Big Ten.
Spurrier, who is entering his tenth season with the program, was asked about the upcoming vote that would give additional autonomy to the schools in the “Power Five” conferences moving forward. Before voicing his support for providing full cost of attendance for student-athletes, Spurrier focused his answer on non-conference scheduling.
“Well I like the other conferences, too. Heck, those guys deserve the chance to go play just like the big conferences,” Spurrier said. “The SEC – we’ve got some down the line teams just like every conference has down the line teams. The big five conferences all playing each other, I don’t think that makes a lot of sense really. Playing East Carolina is a lot tougher game than maybe picking up one of those bottom Big Ten teams. Plus the fans around here, we’d rather see a team from close by.”
Earlier in the offseason, the SEC voted to keep an eight-game conference schedule. However, starting in 2016, all SEC teams will be required to play a team from one of the other power conferences – the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12. Notre Dame also meets that qualification.
Spurrier’s point is that he’d rather schedule a tough regional American Athletic Conference opponent like East Carolina than schedule a lower-level Big Ten opponent like, for example, Purdue or Illinois. ECU is coming off a 10-3 season and is entering its first year in the AAC. The Pirates and Gamecocks will square off on Sept. 6 in Columbia and that game is going to be a lot more exciting for fans in that region of the country than a forced matchup with a Power Five school without a lot of recent success.
Spurrier’s comment is more of a compliment toward ECU than a slight to the Big Ten. Spurrier could have named any of the other conferences there. And like he said, “every conference has down the line teams,” even the SEC.
Additionally, Spurrier is addressing a comment made by Nick Saban a few months ago that schools from the power five should only play other power five schools.
Nick Saban wants Power 5 conferences to play only games against other P5 schools. “Better for fans & for players"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) May 27, 2014
So even though his answer didn’t address the question he was asked, Spurrier’s point is a good one.
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