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Spurrier returns to "The Swamp" with South Carolina

Nov 7, 2006 - 9:24 PM South Carolina (5-4) at No. 6 Florida (8-1), 3:30 pm EST

GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) - Earlier this season, Steve Spurrier returned to "The Swamp" as Florida honored his 1996 national championship team. His reception likely will a bit more muted this weekend.

Spurrier will be on the opposite sideline Saturday when he leads South Carolina into a Southeastern Conference matchup with the sixth-ranked Gators.

The Heisman Trophy winner at Florida, Spurrier coached the Gators to six SEC championships and a national title between 1990-2001 before surprisingly leaving to coach the NFL's Washington Redskins.

After a disappointing two-season stint with the Redskins, Spurrier took a year off before replacing Lou Holtz at South Carolina after the 2004 season. The "Ol' Ball Coach" went 7-5 in his first year in Columbia, including a 30-22 upset of Florida, and has led his team to a 5-4 mark this season, including 3-4 in the SEC East.

The Gamecocks are coming off back-to-back home losses to Tennessee and Arkansas. In last Saturday's 26-20 setback to the Razorbacks, Blake Mitchell played well coming off the bench after a poor start by Syvelle Newton, and Spurrier indicated that Mitchell will start against the Gators.

Florida (8-1, 6-1 East) clinched the division title and a spot in the SEC title game by edging Vanderbilt last weekend, 25-19, coupled with Tennessee's 28-24 loss to Louisiana State.

The Gators won despite three interceptions from quarterback Chris Leak.

Second-year Gators coach Urban Meyer realizes how big an impact Spurrier had on his program, and how much his return will mean in Gainesville.

"I think it is no different than (Bo) Schembechler walking in Michigan or Woody Hayes walking in Ohio State," Meyer said. "I was at Notre Dame and if (Knute) Rockne would have walked in or Ara Parseghian was there. I saw what happened when he walked in the building and it's all deservedly so. I mean, that's the way it is.

"Is there a shadow? It's a big one and it should be that way. Does it change the way that we coach or player develop our team? Not in the least. We've got a very big obligation and that's to play our best football this week and make it real clear, this is about beating South Carolina. Beat South Carolina. That's what it's all about."

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