BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Clap. Clap. Clap.
The sound of the South Carolina fans cheering after a Gamecocks loss made Coach Steve Spurrier sick to his stomach.
"We came close against a No. 2 or No. 3 team in the country and got beat," Spurrier said, recalling a story from four or five years ago at the annual Southeastern Conference Media Days on Wednesday.
"I don't think you should boo the team, but I don't think you should clap either."
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Last season the Gamecocks gave their fans something to actually cheer about, winning the SEC Eastern Division for the first time in school history and beating a top-ranked team in the nation.
But Spurrier doesn't believe he's created a blueprint for other schools to follow.
Just because the Gamecocks made it out of the bottom part of the SEC East for one season doesn't mean it can happen for any team any time.
Heck, Spurrier said in his usual way, it may not even happen for South Carolina this season.
"We know that Georgia, Tennessee and Florida were down last year," he said. "That's what gave us hope and probably the big reason we won the East last year. Whether or not they'll be down this year, only time will tell."
Like most coaches on the first day of the annual meeting of the minds with the media — Kentucky's coaches and players are scheduled to speak on Thursday — Spurrier had plenty of optimism about the upcoming season.
He has playmakers on offense like running back Marcus Lattimore and receiver Alshon Jeffery.
If quarterback Stephen Garcia keeps following the "guidelines" set forth for him by his coaches, the embattled quarterback likely will be back to help lead the offense, too.
"We feel like we've probably assembled the best group of players we've had in the seven years now that I've been there," Spurrier said. "But time will tell. Time will tell how this year's team will do."
The coach said there are a lot of improvements to be made if the Gamecocks want to become a Tennessee, a Georgia or a Florida regularly.
"You know we lost our last two games last year, so we're not sitting around patting each other on the back too much," Spurrier said.
He noted the Gamecocks were seventh in the league in both offense and defense, which he called mediocre.
He noted his team hasn't scored a touchdown via special teams play since he got there.
"We've got a lot of improving to do if we're going to have the big year that South Carolina hopes and believes someday we can," he said. "Certainly we're shooting for it."
Like any team trying to claw its way to the top of college football's premier league, South Carolina has a way to go, Spurrier said.
"We got enough players to get in the action, to compete (with) about everybody we play," he said. "But taking that next step and winning a whole bunch of games, winning the SEC, that's what we're trying to do. We haven't got there yet."