Following Georgia's big win last Saturday night, I jokingly asked upon what basis the Gamecocks might claim a "moral victory" in the contest. I listed several options, including one ("Poor officiating") that clearly was facetious . . . or so I thought.
The zebras brace themselves for another round of criticism.
Enter Steve Spurrier, who once lost only rarely but who always was a sore loser. In the immediate aftermath of the game, the Evil Genius blamed his team, but now he is singing a different tune, according the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"I heard our fans booing a lot the other night and later in the week I learned that Georgia should've been called for about 12, 13 clips or holds during that game that wasn't [sic.] called," Spurrier said on his weekly radio call-in show.
"I'm not berating the officials, but we learned later the head of officials said, 'Hey, those should've been called,'" Spurrier continued.
Let us leave aside the fact that the S.E.C. head of officials is a Georgia Tech man. Let us also leave aside the fact that the game was broadcast on E.S.P.N., a network that absolutely adores Steve Spurrier, and not a word was said during the game to suggest that the contest was not being called cleanly and fairly. Let us even leave aside the fact that Darth Visor may have violated league policy when he made those remarks.
Even laying all of that aside . . . 12 or 13 clips or holds? I didn't hear anyone insinuate that it was a poorly called game for five days following the contest and now there were a dozen or more penalties that were uncalled? That's absurd.
Despite being blind, dead, and a native Georgian, even Ray Charles wouldn't have missed it if the Bulldogs had held that many times.
To his credit, the Ol' Ball Coach knows this. I have too much respect for Steve Superior's football acumen to believe that he is dumb enough to believe one word of what he is saying.
He is an astute observer of the game and little happens out on the field without his noticing. Furthermore, he has never kept an opinion to himself and he always throws a sideline tantrum at the slightest provocation. If there had been holding going on that wasn't being flagged, Coach Spurrier would have noticed it and Coach Spurrier would have commented on it during the contest. The fact that he neither saw it nor said anything about it until the Thursday after the game is all the proof you would ever need to know that this is nonsense.
Let's say it's true, though. Let's assume Georgia was guilty of some clips on special teams and some holds on offense. If so, that probably means that the Bulldogs put more points on the scoreboard than they deserved and some of the 18 ticks the Red and Black put up on the scoreboard should be taken away.
However, the Junkyard 'Dawgs pitched a shutout. Even if 17 of the Classic City Canines' 18 points were unearned, the Bulldogs still deserved to win. The safety alone provided the margin of victory and umpteen replays should have rendered that defensive score utterly uncontroversial.
If the defense got to do this in the end zone while holding the Gamecocks scoreless, Stevie Boy needs to hush.
Nevertheless, let's assume all 18 of Georgia's points were ill-gotten gain. Let's assume that, in fairness, the game should have ended in a scoreless tie and gone to overtime.
What about his team's performance leads the Evil Genius to conclude that the Bulldogs would not have prevailed in extra innings? Suppose that Georgia started its first possession from the 25 yard line, repeatedly ran it up the middle for no gain, and lost 10 yards on a holding call.
That puts the ball on the 35 yard line. Brandon Coutu hit a 42-yard field goal and two 46-yard field goals. What evidence is there that Coutu wouldn't have hit the 52-yard game-winner in O.T.?
Ah, but the Gamecocks would have had an overtime possession of their own. A touchdown would have won it and a field goal would have extended the game.
Would the Palmetto State Poultry have gotten into the end zone? That appears unlikely, since South Carolina reached the Georgia two yard line twice and could not score. Would Chris Smelley have done something heroic? That claim is dubious, since Coach Spurrier didn't think enough of his performance to start him this week. Would the Gamecocks' field goal try have been successful? That seems improbable, since the home team's placekicker doinked one off of the upright.
Erk never whined after a loss.
To their credit, actual Gamecock fans have owned up to the reality of the loss, even going so far as to acknowledge that, "if Stafford had a year of experience under his belt, then it'd probably be more like 30-0." I never thought I'd say this, but the Carolina faithful deserve a head coach who is as grounded in reality as they are.
I don't know whether the Gamecocks lost because of "the chicken curse," but I know that their head coach's weak excuses are chicken-something . . . and that something is pretty Smelley.