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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Seems like old times for Spurrier
Except the Ol' Ball Coach won't take shots at his SEC foes like when he was at Florida.
By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published July 28, 2005
HOOVER, Ala. - It was as if he'd never left.
Steve Spurrier stepped onto the stage, glanced at his watch and immediately threw out one of his barbs: "I appreciate all of you hanging around. I thought everybody would be gone by four o'clock." Not a chance.
The legend, the dean of the SEC (Phillip Fulmer) and the league's hottest new face (Urban Meyer) all took center stage Wednesday at the SEC Media Days with different approaches to the enormous attention they garnered.
Fulmer defended his actions of not appearing last year and said he was thrilled to be back in town; Meyer tactfully praised Spurrier while trying to step out of his shadow; and Spurrier ... well, he was just Spurrier.
In a room filled with hundreds of reporters, the former Florida-turned-South Carolina coach seemed right at home.
"It's good to be back," he said. "I have missed you guys, even the ones that wrote not real nice things about me. That's okay. It's a lot more fun hanging around the SEC than it was the other league I was in a couple of years."
Dressed in a dark suit and power red tie, Meyer opened the day's first session, saying he has believed for the past 19 years the SEC is the best conference in football. Seven questions in, he was asked about Spurrier. A few questions later he was asked another.
"I became a fan of Florida football in the '90s because of coach Spurrier; I think that's documented," he said. "However, that's over. This is past history, that's old news. Coach Spurrier being back in the conference is great for national exposure. I think it's great for the game because I think he is an excellent coach. But for me to worry about anything other than getting this team ready (for the opener) Sept. 3, I would be a failure to our players, and that's all that matters."
Fulmer called having so many new faces in the SEC "exciting" but said none other than Spurrier realize the challenge they face.
"I don't have any advice for them," said Fulmer, who admitted his first thought when he heard Spurrier was returning was "Ah, crap."
"They are very mature guys and very capable guys. But until they have actually experienced this conference and this league, you have no way to understand the depth of the incredible rivalries that are here. ... I know they have been in good leagues and good schools and good places and everything, but there's no comparison to going to the Swamp or going to Death Valley or hopefully coming to our stadium or down to Auburn. Those are great venues to play in. They will have to experience that themselves."
Spurrier reiterated he's a changed man after his failed attempt in the NFL and said he won't be known for making brash statements and taking shots at opponents as he was during his 12 years at Florida. He refused to make any "bold predictions" Wednesday, but shared one theory about his team.
"Every 12 years is the year of the rooster, and 2005 is the year of the rooster," he said. "Don't bet too much against South Carolina this year, that's all I'm saying. We've got the rooster year on our side."