Steve Spurrier lacked his trademark swagger during last month's Southeastern Conference media day. This is a man who in his pre-NFL days called Florida State "Free Shoes University" after an NCAA scandal and said, "You can't spell Citrus without UT," poking fun at Tennessee's repeated appearances in the Florida Citrus Bowl. He pledged last month to cut down on the jokes, perhaps because his team could be the punch line this fall.

"We need to beat somebody first before those guys are going to worry about South Carolina," Spurrier said of the SEC's upper echelon. The Gamecocks don't figure to finish any higher than fourth in the SEC East, but that's not the only problem in Columbia. The university has proposed two years of probation and a reduction of four scholarships because of violations that occurred under the watch of former coach Lou Holtz; it awaits the NCAA's final verdict. And Spurrier already has upset state high school coaches after he revoked a few scholarships from players.

Even if two seasons with the Washington Redskins have wiped away his smirk, Spurrier promises to be entertaining for media and fans. When asked a seemingly innocuous question whether taking over at South Carolina was similar to when he arrived at Florida, Spurrier said: "Could be. Both schools were under investigation." He also is blunt about returning to the college ranks, saying, "It was a lot more fun hanging around the SEC than it was in the other league I was in a couple years ago."

South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier said he would limit his verbal barbs in his first year.