South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier, who may have the best jab since Marvin Hagler, took what seemed to be a subtle poke at Alabama Coach Nick Saban.
Or was it? Spurrier is deft enough now, in his advancing age, to leave enough room open for interpretation.
At 69, he is still the main attraction every summer at the Southeastern Conference's media days in Hoover, Ala.
Spurrier, entering his (astonishingly) 10th season at South Carolina, faced the media Tuesday at the Wynfrey Hotel and proclaimed Saban to be the "greatest recruiter in the history of college football."
It seemed a backdoor way for Spurrier to suggest that Alabama, under Saban, has actually underachieved by winning "only" three national titles since 2009.
"I think they've had five number one recruiting classes out of the last six years," Spurrier said.
Spurrier added: "Arguably, they've got the greatest collection of football players ever assembled for a college team."
This is classic gamesmanship and maybe a little shout-out to his own accomplishments.
It can be argued that Spurrier, before Saban arrived to win four national titles in the SEC, was considered the league's best coach since Bear Bryant.
Saban can certainly stake that claim now, yet it can be reasonably argued that what Spurrier has done at South Carolina is, at least, equally impressive.
Spurrier, after a great run at Florida that included a pre-BCS national title in 1996, has gone 77-39 in nine seasons in Columbia at a program considered for decades one of college football's worst.
Spurrier, in 2005, was looking for a place to heal his wounded ego after a disastrous NFL stint with the Washington Redskins.
"South Carolina was really the best opportunity I could ask for," he said. "It was a school, you could probably describe their football tradition as mediocre."
Spurrier changed that and now has South Carolina on the cusp of something really special with a puncher's chance to reach the first College Football Playoff.
Spurrier seeks final career validation in the form of an SEC title, the one thing missing from his Gamecocks' resume.
Spurrier can needle Alabama a bit because the schools miss each other on the schedule and could only meet in the SEC title game.
And wouldn't that be something: Spurrier vs. Saban.
One final jab: "They're the favorites, there's no question about that," Spurrier said of Alabama. "As long as they can recruit like that, they're always going to be the favorites. I guess, fortunately, sometimes the team that plays the best is the team that wins instead of maybe who has all the best players."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times