If many of the most recent bowl projections around the country are correct, Steve Spurrier will be reunited with an old friend this bowl season.
Jim McVay worked in the Tampa Bay Bandits organization when Spurrier was that team’s coach, and McVay remained in Tampa, Fla., after the collapse of the USFL. He now serves as CEO of the Outback Bowl, which is where most analysts believe South Carolina will spend New Year’s Day.
“Steve Spurrier is maybe the best coach in college football,” McVay said Monday. “He’s proven that a long time ago. What he’s done with the South Carolina program is just wonderful. South Carolina is one of the top 10 teams in the country. He’s earned his reputation of being one of the top guys all time in college football.”
Two ESPN analysts, SI.com, CBSSports.com and Athlon.com agree the No. 11 Gamecocks (10-2) will play No. 22 Northwestern in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 in Raymond James Stadium, home to the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Spurrier himself believes it will either be the Outback Bowl or the Gator Bowl, which is played in Jacksonville, Fla., on the same day, he told The State on Monday. The Gator Bowl also would match South Carolina against a Big Ten team, possibly unranked Wisconsin, which plays No. 14 Nebraska in Saturday’s Big Ten championship game.
“I really believe we’re going to end up in the Outback or Gator just because the SEC has six teams with 10 or more wins,” Spurrier said. “All six of us are not going to make it (into the BCS or the conference’s top-tier, non-BCS bowls such as the Cotton and Capital One).”
Spurrier has no preference, he said.
“Either one is fine with me,” he said. “I like those boys in Jacksonville, too. I know them quite well. It doesn’t matter.”
McVay also pointed to the abundance of teams in the SEC with quality resumes. Six conference teams have double digits wins and are ranked in the Associated Press’ top 11.
“I think every bowl game right now is looking at those six teams and saying, ‘How’s that going to work out?’” he said.
No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia will play for the SEC title on Saturday. Again Monday, Spurrier pointed to the discrepancy in those teams’ schedules, but he does not believe his proposal to count only division games in deciding division champions will ever gain traction.
“TV would never allow it,” he said.
The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs each avoided the top three teams from their opposite division this year due to the SEC’s rotating schedule model.
“I find it very interesting, and I haven’t seen anybody really write about,” Spurrier said. “Before the season started, you would say these guys have the favorable schedule. I guess that’s just the way life is sometimes.”