LET THE HATE MAIL FLOW!
I have decided to do this one first-person and add a couple of disclaimers before I get into the meat of everyone's favorite Spurrier moments of the last few weeks: The speech about the Confederate flag.
The disclaimers go something like this. First and foremost, I considered South Carolina my adopted home state. Moved there when I was 16, grew up a lot in seven years, and now find myself exiled in Atlanta.
I have also grown up in the South my entire life. My mother's side of the family is about as Southern as you can be, having entered the country in Mobile and not gone too far north of that point since.
So I am not -- and will not be labeled -- a Yankee interloper. In fact, I can Yankee-bash with the best of them.
Second, these are my personal comments about the flag as it relates to South Carolina and Spurrier's remarks. They cannot be extrapolated to any other issue in any other state.
Now that that's out of the way...
For those of you who didn't hear -- because you were on the planet Mars or you depend on C&F for all news Gamecock-related (in which case you really need to get out more) -- Spurrier held forth thusly on the flag:
"I realize I'm not supposed to get in the political arena as a football coach, but if anybody were ever to ask me about that damn Confederate flag, I would say we need to get rid of it. I've been told not to talk about that. But if anyone were ever to ask me about it, I certainly wish we could get rid of it."
For those who cannot decipher Spurrier's well-known ambiguity, he's calling for the removal of the Confederate flag.
Spurrier hears his Sons of Confederate Veterans membership has been canceled.
The conspiracy theories have flown since, as Person points out, including the idea that this was done for the purposes of recruiting students who have already signed their letters of intent. (S.C. flag discussion + rational thought = impossible.)
And as the debate has raged, the ideas have gotten more out of touch with reality. (And remember, these are people who want to fly the flag of a nation that hasn't existed in almost 150 years.) Here's a comment from someone posting to Person's blog:
It would be best if he shut his mouth and try to win football games, and earn his 500,000 raise. as a matter of fact, what he should do is give his raise to coach TANNER. a real coach. Someone who can motivate his kids to be more than criminals. Crying about the flag is not going to take the attention off his mediocre performance this past season. Spurrier if you don’t like the heat get out of the kitchen( South Carolina).
First off, let me say it's good to see that someone recognizes Ray Tanner is a great coach at an underrated (at least in its home state) program.
But since when does an 8-5 record (including a razor-thin loss to the eventual NC) -- at a school that has historically been about as good at winning football games as the Confederacy was at winning Civil Wars -- constitute a "mediocre performance"?
And while we would all hope for the day when the school has more wins than it has pending indictments, this is a problem that Spurrier inherited, to a certain extent. When you have to end a team practice of walking to Church's Chicken whenever the players feel like it, discipline has pretty much broken down.
Finally, I think it's safe to say that the most heat Spurrier has felt in his time at South Carolina has been over the flag comments.
So why did Spurrier say what he said when, as he acknowledged, he's never been asked about the topic?
My guess goes something like this. First of all, Spurrier is probably a little bit tired of being lumped in with the flag-wavers just because of his accent. He probably is just as proud of his Southern heritage as anyone else -- just not of the fact that the Confederacy, no matter the intentions or bravery of its soldiers, was a nation founded on and because of slavery. (Sorry, but anyone who wants to debate this can go round on round with me if they want to.)
Secondly, Spurrier is going to be living in South Carolina for a good long time. Unless, of course, Nick Saban is fired and Spurrier goes back to pleading with Mal Moore for the job at legendary Alabama. He might even start to consider it his home. And he has as much right as any other citizen of South Carolina to voice his opinions on the flag. Granted, he is (in the words of Aaron Sorkin) "a human starting gun" -- but he's a citizen just like anybody else.
And, finally, you can look at what the man himself said.
"If you had a relative who died in the Confederate war, maybe you'd feel very strongly about it, too. But that's history," Spurrier said. "If it represents something that angers people, then why do that?"
Spurrier's trying to move a football program forward. Was it really so bad for him to ask the rest of the state to follow suit?