SEC Media Days: A tale of two Columbias

A rivalry seems to be steaming between South Carolina and Missouri.
South Carolina football Head Coach Steve Spurrier speaks at the Southeastern Conference Media Days Tuesday, July 12, 2015 in Hoover, Alabama.

HOOVER, Ala. — Steve Spurrier hinted at it. Linebacker Skai Moore and wide receiver Pharoh Cooper did, too. South Carolina and Missouri: a brewing rivalry?

Two years ago in Missouri’s Columbia, the South Carolina Gamecocks waltzed into Faurot Field and knocked off the Tigers in double overtime thanks to a late flurry led by quarterback Connor Shaw.

One year ago, in the Palmetto State’s Columbia, Maty Mauk and Missouri finished off Spurrier’s dwindling Gamecocks with two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to take a 3-2 lead in the two schools' series history.

This year, on Oct. 3 at Faurot Field, one of the biggest games on the two teams’ schedules will be played.

“For those guys to go 7-1 two years in a row and win the (Eastern Division), it’s wonderful,” said Spurrier, about Missouri. “We have that little trophy, what we call the Battle of Columbias, and they got it last year. They scored two at the end on us. But it’s a nice little rivalry.”

Cooper, who had a touchdown catch in last year’s rendition of the game, also hinted at a little bad blood during his turn at Tuesday’s SEC Media Day.

“Missouri is always a good battle when we play them,” he said. “A little bit of trash talk between the lines and stuff. But you know, it’s all good.”

Moore, the junior linebacker, responding similarly, said Mizzou is “definitely a team to beat to get to the next stage.”

The Tigers will get a chance to respond when their turn to speak comes on Wednesday.

Spurrier on Gary Pinkel

The Battle of the Columbias has taught Spurrier many things and has often been an indicator of his team’s level of play. When talking about Tigers coach Gary Pinkel, Spurrier said he has done a “super job.”

He commended both Pinkel and Georgia coach Mark Richt for having been in the conference so long, adding that he and Louisiana State’s Les Miles are tied at the No. 3 spot with 10 years each.

“They do a super job, Missouri,” Spurrier said. “I really think they maximize the talent that they have there. Their defense plays hard, tough, aggressive, gets a bunch of turnovers, and their offense does enough to win a whole bunch of ball games.”

Head Ball Coach’s Retirement

It’s been said since last year that the “Head Ball Coach” has pondered retirement. After a rough start, the win against Miami in the Independence Bowl has rejuvenated Spurrier.

“Well, like I told people, I breezed right through age 60, breezed right through 65 and I’m going to try my best to breeze right through 70,” he said. “I can still remember just about everything. So mentally, I think I’m the same as I was.”

And then, as only Spurrier can do, he joked about Danny Sheridan, a handicapper and frequent guest of Paul Finebaum’s radio show.

“Danny’s not here, is he?” Spurrier said. “I wish he did the odds on every coach being (at their school) four years from now, set the odds on it. I don’t know if you’d bet on that, but it would be something fun to bet on, wouldn’t it?”

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