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Steve Spurrier's coaching is somehow still even better than his talkin'

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We love Steve Spurrier as a character. But his ability to win like he has at South Carolina is his greatest trick of all.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

When Steve Spurrier steps to a podium to partake in what he calls "talkin' season," the anticipation is palpable. It's like a movie, when silence turns to commotion at the drop of a pin.

This week, the excitement wasn't limited to Hoover, Alabama, where Spurrier gave his annual address to the college football world. For those of us elsewhere, it spread through Twitter on an otherwise dull Tuesday morning. With most coaches, we would have to hope reporters could press and press and press to get something interesting. But with Spurrier, it's a whirlwind 25 minutes of fun. He stepped to the podium ... and he was off.

Our coverage from Hoover

"Only time will tell if Vanderbilt can do it. I know Wake Forest won an ACC one year, but it'll be interesting."

"I thought (Stephen Garcia would) be real good at that arena ball."

"I always was taught the hero of the Alamo was Davy Crockett. Bonham (subject of a potential South Carolina-Texas A&M trophy), it's a good story, and he did some good things. I always thought Crockett and those 33 Tennessee guys was the hero. Him and those Tennessee guys that came in and got killed and so forth."

"Some people ask, 'How did you wind up at South Carolina?' I was available, and they were the only ones that offered me the job."

"I'm not sure if (Garcia is) a member of the media or Duck Dynasty."

There are way too many to list here, which is why our network devoted three whole articles to his antics from his media day alone. We love Steve Spurrier because he doesn't seem to give a shit.

But the romanticized image we enjoy, the Ol' Ball Coach, overshadows just how remarkable his tenure at South Carolina has been. And it overshadows the fact that he absolutely still does give a shit.

To anyone who started following college football in the past six years or so, South Carolina is a perennial SEC contender. As Spurrier says, "the magazines" project the 2014 Gamecocks to be a top-10 team. SEC media picked his team to win the East. South Carolina has the current No. 4 2015 recruiting class. This all seems natural.

But somehow, in what was supposed to be his retirement job, Spurrier was able to build that image for a team that for so long was Clemson's little brother. The Gamecocks had no history to speak of. They have just two conferences titles — the Southern Conference in 1933 and the ACC in 1969. They were a .500-ish program.

The No. 1 pick in this year's draft went to South Carolina. The team won the SEC East Division title — its first ever — in 2010. Spurrier hasn't lost to Clemson since 2008, and there's no reason to be sure that five-game streak (Carolina's longest ever in the rivalry) will end this year. And now the Gamecocks have won three of their last four games against Georgia, in a series they are historically losing 17-47-2. South Carolina has supplanted Clemson as the model of consistency in the state, and that's saying something, since Clemson's having one of its best-ever runs as well.

This isn't the few years of hope provided in the Lou Holtz era; this is the real deal. Add in the facts that Spurrier could do it after a failure of a year with Washington's professional team and keep getting better in his 60s.

It's clear that Spurrier is frustrated he has yet to win a conference title with South Carolina (while, yes, Wake Forest even won an ACC title since he took the job). And he wants his fans to keep setting their expectations far above where they ever were before — he's said before that he hated it when Gamecocks fans applauded hard-fought losses during his first years in Columbia.

Spurrier noted during his address that these days, it's rare for a coach to retire instead of being fired. One of his goals, he said, has always been to retire.

"I'm going to make it."

But to think Spurrier is done building the Gamecocks, and that he's just coaching to bide the time between golf outings, would be a mistake. Behind the cool chill that surrounds him is an ambition to keep winning, and the fact that he has won at South Carolina when he really shouldn't have, is perhaps his greatest gift of all — better even than the one-liners he graces us with for 25 minutes every July.