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 SEC championship game. So, Spurrier sells a shot at making history to prospects.
“I tell those recruits, ‘If you come here, hopefully you’ll be on (South Carolina’s) 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 straight Top 10 finishes. The Gamecocks won the SEC East 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 the favorites in the East. He praised the players’ “wonderful attitude,” new starting quarterback Dylan Thompson, the defense and an offensive line that could 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.”
The 68-year-old Spurrier still seemed to be enjoying the ride at his 22nd media days’ trip, in the middle 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, though, including No. 1 overall NFL pick 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.”