COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - During his weekly press conference, University of South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier felt it was necessary to address the ongoing situation with his star defensive end's rib injury before discussing the team's upcoming game against Arkansas.
"First of all, Jadeveon has a muscle strain near his rib area that caused him to miss the game last week against," said Spurrier.
Jadeveon Clowney's absence from South Carolina's win over Kentucky raised the eyebrows of Gamecock fans around the nation, but it was Spurrier's comments about the game time decision that likely added fuel to the already-burning fire.
Following the victory, the Head Ball Coach spoke about Clowney's injury and how it was handled on game day.
"I don't want to get into all of that," said Spurrier Saturday night. "I will just say he told me he couldn't play. He said his ribs hurt, he couldn't run and said, 'I can't play.' I said, 'That's fine. You don't have to play,' and we'll move on."
"If he wants to play, we'll welcome him if he wants to play for the team. If he doesn't want to play, he doesn't have to play. It's as simple as that."
On Tuesday, Spurrier said the situation was handled poorly...by everyone. He said the proper procedures for alerting the head coach and the trainer of a player's injury were not followed on Saturday.
Spurrier was upset because Clowney didn't tell him until just before kickoff and because the team's medical staff had cleared him to play.
There was a lot of speculation that Clowney was dogging it because he wants to protect his NFL Draft status. Spurrier said that's not the case and that the junior is really hurt. The confusion, according to Spurrier, was caused by miscommunication by all parties.
"He was in pain and it was diagnosed later and obviously we all handled it poorly, all of us did," Spurrier said. "We didn't know he wasn't suiting up."
Spurrier then spent a moment explaining that Clowney's impact on the team and the university has been large, even if only for a short period of time.
"If he never plays another snap here, we all should be thankful and appreciative that he came to South Carolina," said Spurrier. "He's played his part tremendously."
Spurrier noted the team is 26-5 since he suited up for the Gamecocks. "So none of us need to be upset at Jadeveon," Said Spurrier.
"All those #7 jerseys and all the money he's made for this school," said Spurrier. "We need to be appreciative that he chose South Carolina."
Will the former Heisman candidate and projected #1 pick in next year's NFL Draft return to the field soon? Spurrier says Clowney is working on it.
"Hopefully it'll be taken care of pretty soon," said Spurrier. "We'll know later in the week." Clowney has been in the training room twice a day, said the coach.
"When he's ready to play, we're going to put him out there," said Spurrier.
The Head Ball Coach made it clear that his coaching staff does not force student athletes to play. "Connor Shaw, Bruce Ellington, if for some reason any player doesn't want to play, as coaches we don't say 'you have to play,'" said Spurrier.
The 4-1 Gamecocks travel to Arkansas for a 12:21 p.m. ET kickoff on Saturday.