HOOVER, Ala. --
There once was a day when we missed Steve Spurrier's SEC media days standups, and the 69-year-old coach will retire someday.
Thank goodness his retirement is not imminent.
The South Carolina and former Florida coach's special brand of speaking his mind was on full display Tuesday at Hoover's Hyatt Regency. It came with the standard pokes and pats.
Spurrier seemed to double down on a recent poke at Alabama coach Nick Saban or was Spurrier gigging recruiting Web sites?
He patted Auburn's Gus Malzahn like, heavy back slaps while taking a subtle poke at Malzahn's former boss.
While praising South Carolina boosters, Spurrier poked his old boss without mentioning Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder by name.
There were other highlights, but it all reminded us of why we missed Spurrier in his Washington days and why we're all glad for his second SEC act. He has made South Carolina interesting on the field, and he always makes himself interesting from the SEC's grand preseason podium.
So, Steve, about that seeming dig at Saban? Something about him winning only two SEC titles at Alabama despite five recruiting national championships?
Spurrier had a chance to walk it back Tuesday, but he has a way of walking one step back before taking one step forward.
"I think they've done extremely well," Spurrier said. "There's no question about that. I just made a statement that I think they've had five No. 1 recruiting classes out of the last six years, which has got to make him the greatest recruiter in the history of college football.
"Arguably, they've got the greatest collection of football players ever assembled for a college team -- if the recruiting services are correct -- and they're pretty much correct. So they're the favorites. They're the favorites. There's no question about that."
Of course, Alabama has been a perennial SEC favorite in the Saban era. While he's won only two SEC titles in seven seasons, he won three national titles in a four-year span.
Well, last year made it a five-year span.
"As long as they can recruit like that, they're always going to be the favorites," Spurrier said. "I guess, fortunately sometimes, the team that plays the best is the team that wins instead of maybe who all has the best players."
Then there's the whole conventional-wisdom thing, and Spurrier seems to question how Alabama continues to recruit so well.
"I just mention that because it is amazing," Spurrier said. "When I was at Florida, we had two No. 1 classes: 1991, Danny Wuerffel, all those guys. We had a bunch of players come in. The next year the guys said, 'Coach, you got too many players on Florida, I'm not going to get on the field.'
"But at Alabama, they just keep signing them year after year after year. It's amazing. I give him credit for it. They do it the right way. He runs a good program. It's just amazing to me how they've been able to stack and keep loading up players every year."
Both times Alabama didn't won the national title in the past five years, there were common threads. Auburn won the Iron Bowl, and Malzahn was on Auburn's staff.
He was offensive coordinator under Gene Chizik when Auburn won in 2010, en route to a national title, and head coach when Auburn won a year ago, en route to a national runner-up finish.
"Well, Gus Malzahn is one of the best coaches in the country, not just the SEC," Spurrier said. "I think everybody knows that. They didn't win that national championship (in 2010) unless he was there. I think everybody knows that, too."
Ouch Gene Chizik, but about Malzahn?
"He's a sharp guy," Spurrier said. "He and I, I think, are pretty good friends. We don't really look forward to that game, but we got to go in there and give it our best shot."
In fairness, Spurrier was asked about his recent Saban comments and about Malzahn.
Spurrier wasn't asked about Snyder but veered into a shot while praising South Carolina boosters.
"You're sort of like an owner of the team," he said. "The big donors in college are similar to like an owner in the NFL because they put the money up.
"The best part of it, they don't tell us what to do, though. They're sort of the owners from a distance. They don't tell you who to play, what plays to call, so forth."
That's piling on as Snyder fights the world over his team's racially insensitive nickname, but hey, that's why we love Spurrier's SEC standups.
-- Joe Medley is a sports columnist for the Anniston Star. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.