Spurrier pledges Gamecocks will ‘do better’ this coming season

South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier hosted a number of recruits at the Gamecocks' basketball game Saturday against No. 1 Kentucky. (AP/File)

COLUMBIA – Steve Spurrier visited Colonial Life Arena to recognize another bowl-winning team, but he made clear that this past 7-6 season wasn’t up to the standards of a South Carolina football program which had won 11 games in each of the previous three years.

“We didn’t do our part as players and coaches,” he told the sellout crowd at halftime of USC’s basketball game Saturday against No. 1 Kentucky. “You as fans did your part. Our commitment to you is to do better this year.”

This is a big recruiting weekend for the Gamecocks, with National Signing Day looming on Feb. 4. South Carolina hosted roughly two dozen prospects at the Kentucky game, and Spurrier expects to have as many as 30 new players on campus for next season. USC inked nine in the mid-term signing period, including top junior college defensive end Marquavius Lewis.

“You keep calling them, you keep loving them up, telling them how much you need them,” Spurrier said later to reporters. “That’s what we’re doing right now.”

Any potential changes to the coaching staff, he added, will wait until after singing day. “There have been a whole bunch of of people calling and saying, ‘Coach, I can help you.’ ... When the time is right, we’ll talk about that,” Spurrier said.

“Right now, we’re concentrating on recruiting. I have said many times that we’re not getting rid of any coaches, but we could add one. There are different ways to add coaches. I think Alabama’s got 16 or 17 down there. We don’t have that many.”

Despite USC’s lowest win total in seven years, Spurrier still couldn’t help crowing about USC’s school-record fourth straight bowl victory – evidenced by the presence of the giant Independence Bowl trophy, which the Gamecocks won by beating Miami on Dec. 27.

“Sometimes in life, you have to celebrate your small accomplishments,” he told the crowd. “By golly, we had us a winning season, and we got us a big trophy.”

Spurrier later told reporters that spring practice would open on March 17, and the spring game would be held April 11. And there was one other date he had in mind, too.

“Mark your calendars for Nov. 28,” he told the crowd, “that’s when that orange team comes to town.”