College Sports

ESPN holding grudge against Gamecocks

COLUMBIA -- If ESPN's "GameDay" ever returns to Columbia, and that appears to be a big 'if' at this point, it would make for some pretty good theater.

When South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier called out announcer Chris Fowler Tuesday for misquoting him, it was the latest salvo in what has been an occasional feud since Spurrier was hired three years ago.

The USC athletics department has already been trying to have some fun at the expense of ESPN analyst Lee Corso, but Corso and Fowler do not appear to be amused.

Fowler expressed concern that USC has started a Web site (letsshowcorso.com), where fans can click and throw footballs at a likeness of Corso. Gamecock fans have been mad at Corso since the former coach declared Spurrier would never win an SEC title at USC, "even if he coaches here 400 years."

Corso declined to comment about the Web site, although he said last week on the air that he would not "dignify it with a response."

Fowler, the lead announcer on "GameDay," took up for his broadcast partner.

"I'm a little puzzled (about) the approach to marketing the team by attacking Lee," Fowler said. "I don't speak for him at all. But I think (Corso's) reaction to the campaign was pretty evident if you saw the show."

The issue could also have an impact on whether "GameDay" returns to Columbia. Fowler wanted to make clear that the show has had good experiences when it has come to Columbia, including last year, but that was before the Web site was created. "GameDay" has originated from Columbia four times -- 2001 (vs. Florida), 2004 (Georgia), 2005 (Central Florida) and 2006 (Tennessee).

"I don't speak for what that would mean for the likelihood of 'GameDay' coming there. But I can tell you it doesn't increase the chances," Fowler said. "If South Carolina continues to win games, it will always be on the radar for game shows. But it would be a consideration, to go somewhere the show has been targeted."

USC athletics director Eric Hyman said the jabbing at Corso was meant in good fun. Since the Web site went up less than two weeks ago, it has received more than 300,000 hits, and Hyman said about 25,000 have tossed a virtual football at Corso.

The school will also unveil a new video during Saturday's game against S.C. State. Hyman said it would provide "balance," but did not provide more specifics. A marketing and fundraising video that included clips of Corso was played before the Louisiana-Lafayette game.

"Did South Carolina, when (Corso) made some of the comments he made, did we return it?" Hyman said. "It's fun, it's an enjoyment."

Hyman said he had not talked with ESPN before putting up the site, and he hasn't since. It was conceived and created by USC and an outside marketing company that Hyman said included USC alums and members of the Gamecock Club.

The Web site features video of Corso making his declaration two years ago, during a "GameDay" broadcast in Columbia, that Spurrier would not be able to recruit well enough at South Carolina to beat certain teams. As Corso mentions Tennessee, Florida and Clemson, video is shown of USC beating each team over the past two years.

The Web site itself does not make any money, as it is free and does not feature any advertisements, but it is part of the athletics department's fundraising campaign, which includes football facilities.

"We've already shown Corso we can beat Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas and a lot of other good teams," Spurrier says on the Web site. "We've already shown Corso we can recruit, No. 4 in the nation by ESPN.com. Now let's show we can build the facilities that are necessary. Let's show my pal Lee Corso we can win the SEC championship."

Spurrier also got in a dust-up with the "GameDay" crew over last week's broadcast. He was peeved Fowler misquoted him -- which Fowler apologized for -- and Spurrier also noted Corso and Kirk Herbstreit picked "a pretty lopsided" win for Georgia, according to Spurrier.

Fowler, who did not make a prediction on the game, called it "an impressive win" for the Gamecocks.

As for a potential return trip to Columbia, the Nov. 10 game against Florida looms as a possibility.

But the USC vs. "GameDay" feud may have to be toned down.

"We've always had really enjoyable experiences down there," Fowler said. "But we won't knowingly walk into a hate-fest."

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