Spurrier takes aim at Confederate flag

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - For Gamecock Nation, Saturday's spring game gave fans a sneak peek at next season's team. Now the game's over, and fans are undoubtedly talking about this year's talent.

Many are also talking about something USC head football coach Steve Spurrier said Friday night. The ball coach spoke out against flying the Confederate flag on State House grounds.

Calling it an obstacle to recruiting football players from out of state, the head coach said, "If anyone were ever to ask me about it, I would say I wish we could get rid of it."

During an award acceptance speech at City Year's annual gala, Spurrier talked about racial diversity. The ball coach also said he was "embarrassed" last season during a pre-game show as he watched a fan wave the Confederate flag.

At one point during his speech, Spurrier said "that damn flag needs to come down." In fact, Spurrier said it twice.

Spurrier's comments on the Confederate flag drew applause from most of the dinner guests in the Convention Center ballroom.

We asked the coach more about his position after Saturday's spring game. "No one had ever asked me about my opinion on the flag, but if they had I would have told them it needs to come down. I don't know anybody that disagrees with me, but obviously there are a lot of South Carolinians that do."

The coach also stressed that his position on the flag is simply his personal opinion.

The state legislature ordered a Confederate battle flag removed from the top of the State House dome in 2000, and since then it has flown at a Confederate monument on the State House grounds. The flag's presence there continues to prevent South Carolina from being home to NCAA athletic championship events.

The flag issue, according to Spurrier, is an obstacle to the state's improving its image.  Spurrier made his remarks at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center Friday night, after accepting a citizen leadership award from City Year Columbia, a service organization affiliated with the national Americorps program.

The head coach saluted the racial diversity of City Year's corps members and supporters.  And he said he would work to try to do more than win football championships here.

Spurrier said he hoped to help the state improve in some of the social and economic areas that have left it near the bottom in national rankings.

"We're going to try to get South Carolina recognized as a wonderful place.  We just haven't quite got there yet," said Spurrier.

At the spring game Saturday, News 10 also talked to a few fans about what they thought about Spurrier's comments.

"For a person who is looked upon by the college community with how respected he is, that the comment was well deserved and well needed," said one fan.

"That is a southern tradition - it stands for a lot more than what people understand and it should fly forever," said another.

Lots of people have commented on Spurrier's comments in our Question of the Day. Some want the ball coach to run for governor, and others say they'll now be pulling for Clemson.

To see all the viewer responses or leave your own, click on the link at the bottom of the story.

updated by Chantelle Janelle