If you watched any college football at all this past Saturday, then the likelihood of having seen firsthand the gruesome knee injury South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore suffered in a 38-35 win over Tennessee is probably pretty high.
Remarkable has been the outpouring of support for the junior tailback since sustaining the dislocated knee, with players from both teams not only gathering on the field as Lattimore was picked up and carted off the field Saturday, but countless other instances of unselfish well-wishing – from tweets from LSU head coach Les Miles, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach to the declaration by South Carolina governor Nikki Haley Monday that October 29 would further be recognized as “Marcus Lattimore Day” – surfacing in the days that followed.
Even head coach Dabo Swinney of Clemson University – hated in-state rival of the South Carolina Gamecocks – got involved, telling members of the press the following as it related to 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.
Swinney continued, speaking on the possibility Lattimore could bounce back and play collegiate football again, perhaps as early as next season:
If there is anybody I would bet on it is Marcus Lattimore. I know it will be a long process, but 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.
Surprisingly, the sentiments of Clemson’s head coach have set off a bit of a firestorm – no, not because of what he said, how he said it or the timing of his statements, but because of the reaction head coach of South Carolina, Steve Spurrier, had to Swinney’s comments.
During a rally held Monday on the campus of the University of South Carolina in support of Lattimore, Spurrier had this to say of Swinney and Clemson University to the 1,000 or so people in attendance:
A lot of quotes came across the country and I read one today from the head coach at our upstate school. You know, that school that used to beat us a lot that doesn’t beat us much anymore, that one. 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 agree with him on what he said the other day. He said, ‘Marcus Lattimore stands for what’s right about college football.’
Many within the media quick took issue with Spurrier’s comments, agreeing with Swinney, who later in the day, was quoted as saying, “I’m embarrassed for [Spurrier]. That would be about the only thing I have to say about that.”
Dan Wetzel, columnist for Yahoo! Sports, wrote that Spurrier, “67 years old and long past the day of knowing better,” got up and “took the whole thing back into the gutter.”
Meanwhile, Graham Watson, known to readers on Yahoo! Sports as Dr. Saturday, put things more bluntly, noting that by saying what he did, Spurrier “became the jackass” of college football in the Palmetto State.
Yet, was what Spurrier said really so wrong?
Admittedly, the manner in which South Carolina’s head football coach addressed Swinney’s appraisal of Lattimore’s situation could have been much more tactfully worded. There is little doubt about that.
Yet, all said and done, Spurrier did, in fact, not only acknowledge Swinney’s statements (albeit without acknowledging the head coach of his in-state rival himself), but went so far as to say he agreed with all Clemson’s head coach said regarding South Carolina’s injured running back.
That is far different than Spurrier directly questioning the sincerity of Swinney’s comments and the reasons they were made in the first place.
Let us know your thoughts.