Thursday, July 28, 2005

Behind The Scoreboard
By Claude Vinson

One of the nice things about a job like this is one gets asked the questions which are often closest to the heart. About a week or so ago, someone asked when we were going to start writing about football again. This was really welcomed because it simply meant that I was not the only one with an “itchy trigger finger,” metaphorically speaking.

Believe me, yours truly is all for the idea of having football year round (maybe not arena football), but there are other factions which would probably go bananas at the prospect. So in an attempt to please some of the people some of the time, we are going to offer a little pigskin prose this week, mind you, just as prompter of things to come. After all, it is still midsummer!

Before we shift the gear, I have to remark that Lance Armstrong won his seventh (and according to him) last Tour de France on Sunday, picking up his final yellow jersey for a total of 83 (enough to adorn the walls of a pretty big bragging room). Armstrong’s words of departure shortly after cycling, symbolically, around the Arch de Triomphe in gay Paree, showed character, strength and humility. He stated that he was going to devote time to family, friends and his favorite charity.

Since Lance’s sport is not one which can be successfully re-entered after a long layoff, his words of farewell were probably concrete. However, it will be years for the Tour to regain the spectacle which it has achieved in the last seven years. And Armstrong’s legendary achievements have created a groundswell of interest, throughout the world for the sport of cycling. He deserves all the time at Disneyland, and the golf course, that he wants!

And speaking of time on the golf course, and of football, Steve Spurrier, who established his legacy as coach of the Florida Gators, is returning to the sidelines after a year on the links. He says that whereas he loved playing golf, it was not close to what he became accustomed to for so many years.

For all of you SEC watchers, you will recall that coach Spurrier brokered a deal with South Carolina last December when Lou Holtz left just before a pocketful of irregularities surfaced. Now, the excited SEC world will be watching to see if the coach who has been around, can do the same thing for the Carolina program that he did for Florida.

Steve began his football career in Florida, winning the Heisman in ’66 and playing 11 seasons in the pros. Some of you just might not remember, but Steve coached the Tampa Bay team for three years prior to the merger. He didn’t look too good at the helm of the Washington Redskins (12-20 in a couple of seasons), but still can brag of a 47-39 pro record in five years.

This column isn’t big enough to name all of his accomplishments at Florida, but the folks in Gamecock country have already bought more than 63,000 season tickets for his first season. And to make sure that the Spur gets all the media attention that his return to the SEC deserves, the first three games will be nationally televised.

And when one looks on the other side, Spurrier’s return will give some of the teams which suffered the worst defeats during his previous reign a second chance at payback.

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