On the Beat: Spurrier wonders if Gamecocks are really a rival to Georgia

Mark Richt and Georgia are 5-5 against South Carolina teams coached by Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks have won four of the last five in the series. AP/ Jason Getz/File

Is South Carolina a rival to Georgia? Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier isn’t so sure.

“I say it’s one of our rival games. I don’t think it is for Georgia,” Spurrier said Wednesday on the SEC coaches’ teleconference. “Georgia’s got too many other rivals, and we haven’t beaten them enough for them to worry about us too much.”

Four losses to the Gamecocks in the last five years may be changing that. Georgia is calling for a “red out” Saturday when USC visits Sanford Stadium, and Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt certainly counts South Carolina among the rivalry games his team plays each season.

“I think our state is kind of divided on what the biggest game is,” Richt said. “North Georgia thinks it’s Tennessee, south Georgia thinks it’s Florida. If you’re on the west side of it, you’re thinking it’s Auburn, and if you’re on the east side of the state, you think it’s South Carolina. And then everybody kind of agrees Georgia Tech is a rival for everybody. But there’s no question South Carolina is a great rival game for us, and it’s an important one, and we have a lot of respect for them.”

Georgia is 47-18-2 against South Carolina, but 14-9 against the Gamecocks as SEC members, and 5-5 against USC with Spurrier at the helm. As for the Head Ball Coach’s opinion on the series, “he’s going to say what he thinks, and that’s good,” Richt said. “I’ve always liked Steve, because you kind of know what you’re getting with him.”

Bulldogs tailback Nick Chubb caused something of a stir Tuesday when he told reporters in Athens that he was considering South Carolina until he made a recruiting visit to USC — and Spurrier was out of town.

“I would’ve got to meet the head coach. That would’ve been great to know who I was going to play for,” Chubb said. “But I probably would’ve come to Georgia.”

Chubb, from Cedartown, Ga., admitted the visit was last-minute. Spurrier was in Florida, where he won the Heisman Trophy as a player and a national championship as Gators’ head coach, receiving an award from the governor.

“I was out of town when he came. Sometimes I’m in town, sometimes I’m out,” Spurrier said Wednesday. “I think he visited when I was out. But I think he was going to Georgia anyway.”

Georgia’s passing game remains a work in progress following last weekend’s victory at Vanderbilt, in which starting quarterback Greyson Lambert was benched in favor of Brice Ramsey. The Bulldogs passed for 141 yards in the game.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting in the flow of a game, and into the flow of a season,” Richt said. “If we go based on how we threw and caught it (Tuesday in practice), I feel really good. We were really sharp. If we continue to practice that way, my guess is, we’ll play a little bit better in that area.”

Lambert, a graduate transfer from Virginia, remains listed as Georgia’s starter at quarterback on the depth chart for the USC game.

Skai Moore’s three interceptions on the season have the USC linebacker tied for the national lead with four other players: Taylor Barton of Illinois, Antonio Glover of Georgia Southern, Karl Joseph of West Virginia, and Damontae Kazee of San Diego State.

Could Richt, 55, see himself coaching as long as the 70-year-old Spurrier? “I think the older you get, the more you realize you’ve still got some juice,” he said. And his mentor Bobby Bowden “said there’s only one significant event after retirement, and he didn’t really want to push to the next level of waiting for one more thing.”

— David Caraviello