This is an article from the Nov. 12, 2012 issue
The 67-year-old South Carolina coach has never been shy about speaking his mind. His Gamecocks are 7--2 and ranked No. 12 by the AP.
DAN PATRICK:Which is the second-best team in the SEC, after Alabama?
STEVE SPURRIER: I don't know who's the second best right now. Alabama, gosh, they look like they could beat a couple of those NFL teams that I watch on Sundays.
DP:Could Alabama actually hold its own against, say, the Jacksonville Jaguars?
SS: I'd guess Alabama would be favored a little bit against some of those teams. Wouldn't you?
DP:It's even more impressive because 'Bama loses so many players to the NFL.
SS: Nick [Saban] has got a nice little gig going down there. I compare it to what John Calipari has at Kentucky, except Calipari only gets the best players for one year. Nick gets all the best players for three years: They play three years, go to the NFL, make a lot of money. You got to give them credit. They do a super job recruiting; they got ballplayer after ballplayer waiting to play down there.
DP:How do you compete, recruiting-wise, against them?
SS: We have a chance in state here. [Star defensive end] Jadeveon Clowney had a chance to go to Alabama, and he stayed in state. We could never go into Alabama or Georgia and [get] a guy Alabama wants. That would be very difficult.
DP:Do you want running back Marcus Lattimore to try to play at South Carolina again or prepare for the NFL, after his knee injury? [Lattimore suffered a dislocated right knee with ligament damage.]
SS: That will have to be Marcus's decision. The first thing is to start getting that knee well. There's hope. Modern- day medicine, as we know, can do miracles. Willis McGahee had a similar injury, and he's playing [in his 10th season] in the NFL. There's been people who have come back from this.
DP:How tough was it for you when Lattimore went down against Tennessee?
SS: That was an emotional moment for all of us. He's the only junior that was voted captain [this season]. He's such a well-liked kid. He never trash-talks. The opponents never trash-talk him. I sort of compared him to Danny Wuerffel, who I had the good fortune to coach in the '90s at Florida. They're two of the best I've been able to coach.
DP:As a Heisman winner, you have a vote. Have you had the chance to see the top candidates?
SS: A little bit. I usually get concerned about that when they send out the ballot.
DP:Could you vote for an SEC player?
SS: I certainly could. I don't know who it would be. The Heisman is wide open right now.
DP:Where's your Heisman Trophy?
SS: In the corner of my football office, next to a hole-in-one golf ball.
DP:Which is more important to you—the Heisman or the golf ball?
SS: I've been lucky to have had more than one hole in one. I actually had one at Augusta National. But it was on the par-3 course.
This week takes on to see who has the better tailgating scene. Go to SI.com/grillseekers to learn who comes out on top.
I asked Hornets rookie Anthony Davis if he will shave his famous unibrow now that he's in the NBA. "I'm definitely going to keep it," Davis told me. "I like it. It's who I am. And apparently the fans love it." ... Despite ranking 17th all time with 112 sacks, Vikings DE Jared Allen says that statistic is overrated. "I don't think someone's sack number should [get a player] into the Hall of Fame," Allen said. "You have to be all-around. I want to be an impact player on every play." ... Archie Manning explained the key to his son Peyton's success in Denver: "The best thing to happen to Peyton? He got a running game. Indianapolis hadn't run the ball since the 2006 Super Bowl team." ... CBS college football analyst Gary Danielson believes freshmen and sophomores should be eligible for the NFL draft. "I don't understand the relationship with the NFL and college football," Danielson said, "that they don't allow these elite athletes [to compete] when they've proven in every other sport that they can do it. Why do they have to risk their careers and not be financially rewarded?"