Weird twist in Spurrier-Swinney rivalry

October, 31, 2012
10/31/12
9:20
AM ET
The war of words between South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and Clemson's Dabo Swinney has always been pretty comical.

South Carolina will never be Clemson. There's only one Death Valley ... and it ain't in Clemson.

[+] EnlargeDabo Swinney and Steve Spurrier
AP Photo/ Richard ShiroDabo Swinney, left, shrugged off Steve Spurrier's latest comments about the Clemson coach as a sort-of compliment.
The one-liners from both have just added to the fire of this great rivalry. But things took a weird twist on Monday when Spurrier took another jab at Swinney ... after Clemson's coach sent sincere well wishes and compliments to Marcus Lattimore after the gruesome knee injury the running back suffered over the weekend.

First, what Swinney said about Lattimore:
"It took my breath away. I was watching and it just breaks my heart. I mean, I just hurt for him and his family and his teammates. This is a guy that, to me, represents all the good things that college football should be about. He's a guy I know personally. He's a class young man and so is his family. I know how hard he has worked.

"If there is anybody I would bet on, it is Marcus Lattimore. I know it will be a long process, but I tell you what, I would put my money on Marcus Lattimore in a heartbeat. When he comes to terms with this, he will do everything he can to come back. My prayers go out to him and his family. I have been heavy-hearted for him. He is a winner in every regard. Hopefully we haven't seen the last of him from a football standpoint. He has been a great representative for his family and his university. I will lift him up in my prayers."

Very thoughtful comments from Swinney. He, like just about everyone else in college football, has a lot of respect for Lattimore and his comments were basically the same as anyone who has said anything about Lattimore's injury. No problem.

But here's what Spurrier said during Monday's rally for Lattimore:
“A lot of quotes came across the nation. I read one today from the head coach of our Upstate school. You know that school that used to beat us a lot but doesn’t beat us much anymore. Usually, when that coach up there talks about South Carolina, it’s a bunch of garbage and a bunch of BS, usually. But I have to agree with him on what he said the other day. He said ‘Marcus Lattimore stands for what’s right about college football.'”

Naturally, Swinney responded during his weekly radio call-in show:
"I don’t really have a comment other than I’m embarrassed for him. That would be about the only thing I have to say about that.”

He later told members of the media that he actually took what Spurrier said as a compliment:
“People just need to kind of back off the ledge. Personally, I really think he was trying to pay me a compliment. I think. I think. I know there was a roundabout way of getting there, kind of like me telling my wife, ‘I think you should wear this dress. This dress looks great on you. You don’t look near as fat in that dress.’”

In a weird and very awkward way, Spurrier was paying Swinney a compliment. It didn't come off very well, but he basically said that the usual remarks from Swinney about South Carolina are malicious, and these weren't.

Most coaches would have taken the compliments and gone about their business, but not Spurrier. He could have -- and probably should have -- responded differently, or he could have just ignored Swinney all together, but that's not the Head Ball Coach. If he can slip in a jab when talking about a rival, he will.

The war of words between these two has had some intense moments, but this really isn't one of them. This one is just weird.

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