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May 27, 2009
DESTIN, Fla. - When Steve Spurrier first came to South Carolina, he often talked about accomplishing things for the first time, like leading the Gamecocks to an SEC championship.
Five years later, Spurrier is reluctant to continue harping on the Gamecocks' football past, but he insists the chance to guide the school into uncharted waters still motivates him on a daily basis.
"That's the challenge, to have that big year at South Carolina because it hasn't happened," Spurrier said. "That's what intrigues and gets me excited each day. I'd rather do it there than do it again someplace that's already won a SEC [championship]. Trying to win that first [SEC title] would be something special, if we can do it. We have hopes and belief we can do it."
While some have wondered if the lack of winning big would convince Spurrier to depart the Gamecocks after this season, he contended Wednesday the South Carolina job has not been more difficult than he thought at the outset.
"We just haven't quite put it all together yet with the coaches and the players," Spurrier said. "That's all you can say. We haven't put the coaches and players together to have a big year."
Ironically, Spurrier has won 28 games since 2005, four more than any other South Carolina football coach in their first four years at the school. Spurrier's win total includes one bowl win in three tries.
"We're not doing terrible, but we just haven't done super," Spurrier said. "We haven't done quite as well as we hoped."
With 11 starters returning from last season's 7-6 team, together with the infusion of several talented true freshmen like cornerback Stephon Gilmore and running back Jarvis Giles, Spurrier is "excited" about South Carolina's prospects for the 2009 season, which opens Sept. 3 at North Carolina State in a nationally televised game on ESPN.
"I really believe we're going to have our best leaders [this season]," Spurrier said. "I believe we're going to have the best summer participation we've ever had. We'll have to wait and see. But right now, everybody likes each other. Coaches like the coaches, players like the players, coaches like the players and the players like the coaches. Hopefully, we'll maintain that attitude throughout the year."