Let me begin with an apology. I’m sorry that I have nothing for which to apologize. Yeah, there’s that regrettable choice for Charles Woodson over Peyton Manning on my 1997 Heisman ballot. But the statute of limitations on that ran out long ago.
But if I did have something to apologize for, I would, because sorry seems to be a popular word in this eventful offseason for SEC football.
The latest apology came from none other than South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier himself. Spurrier committed the egregious sin of not picking Florida’s Tim Tebow as the SEC’s top quarterback. Turns out it was a clerical error. A public relations underling filled out the ballot and had Spurrier sign it without really even paying attention to it.
“I messed up,” Spurrier said.
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He went on to say the mistake bothered him so badly that he couldn’t sleep. Maybe guilt wasn’t the problem. Maybe visions of Tebow scoring 16 touchdowns against the Gamecocks in November when the Gators visit Columbia were the source of Spurrier’s insomnia.
We still have six weeks before the 2009 SEC kicks off. South Carolina plays North Carolina State on one of those Thursday night weekend warm-ups. But already there has been enough offseason news to keep the message boards buzzing, as if passionate SEC fans needed a reason.
Spurrier took a shot at Lane Kiffin, questioning whether Tennessee’s rookie coach had passed the NCAA’s recruiting test. The SEC didn’t reprimand Spurrier, noting that The Ol’ Ball Coach had simply posed a rhetorical question. The issue resurfaced a few months later at the SEC’s spring meetings.
“I didn’t accuse you of cheating,” Spurrier told Kiffin. “I said, ‘Is it permissible to call recruits before he’s announced as head coach, before you take the test?’”
Kiffin then accused Florida’s Urban Meyer of cheating in recruiting a player who ultimately signed with the Vols anyway.
“In my enthusiasm for our recruiting class, I made some statements that were meant solely to excite those at breakfast. I apologize to Commissioner Mike Slive and the SEC, including Florida AD Jeremy Foley and coach Urban Meyer. My comments were not intended to offend anyone at the University of Florida.”
Which is sort of like saying, “You’re ugly. … What? That offends you?”
Then, last week at the SEC media days, Kiffin defended his brash behavior anew.
“We had to put Tennessee in the national media,” he said. “Do I love every single thing I’ve done for my seven months? No, I haven’t loved having to do it. But it needed to be done, in my opinion, for us to get to where we needed to be.”
Meyer found himself on the other end of controversy.
He dissed Auburn coach Gene Chizik for the now infamous “Tiger Prowl,” when the new Auburn coaching staff rode around the state of Alabama and visited recruits in a limo.
Meyer was asked if that should be an NCAA violation.
“I think it should. We’re trying to sell graduation rates and academics and trying the sing and dance routine. … The Florida coaching staff will not be riding around in limos or ripping off our shirts.”
An aside, regarding bearing belly buttons: Let us be thankful that Phillip Fulmer, the ousted Tennessee coach, never resorted to such tactics.
Still, to the best of my knowledge, Meyer has yet to apologize to Chizik. Sources say, however, that he is sorry for calling two timeouts in the final seconds against Georgia last year to rub the score in the Bulldogs’ faces.
Sorry that he ran out of timeouts.
Contact Guerry Clegg at email@example.com