Reporters aren't supposed to take sides. Columnists, however, are more like regular human beings. Regular human beings have a bias. Columnists have a bias. Here's one of mine: Sports in the Carolinas are much more interesting when Steve Spurrier and his South Carolina football team are winning games and making noise.
Ric Flair, the Nature Boy, called the other night to suggest we get together. Any night but Thursday, he said. On Thursday he will be in Columbia to watch South Carolina's nationally televised game against fourth-ranked Mississippi.
When Spurrier plays a big game, the world pauses.
Spurrier is an intriguing guy. Most coaches speak in cliches because cliches are safe. Spurrier doesn't use cliches. In the old days, he would say something and, if it was clever enough, it would become a cliche. It would become a cliche everywhere but Tallahassee, Fla., I mean.
But these aren't the old days. South Carolina is a tough place to win, even tougher than Duke. That's because Duke plays in the ACC. Despite encouraging non-conference victories by Miami, Virginia Tech and Florida State, the ACC is struggling to find itself. The SEC knows who it is -- the best college football conference, year in and year out, not just in the United States but in the world.
Spurrier was once the best coach in college football, and the traits that made him special, the creativity and the innovation, persist -- especially when he is calling plays. If he can get it going again, college football in the Carolinas becomes big-time again.
But he has to win Thursday.
I think he will.