Clowney came to the coaches before the game and said that bruised ribs that kept him from practice Thursday were too sore for him to play.
So the 6-foot-6, 274-pound All-American watched the Gamecocks’ 35-28 win against Kentucky from the sidelines, chatting with teammates as South Carolina lost a large lead for the third straight game.
If Clowney “wants to play, we will welcome him to come play for the team if he wants,” Spurrier said after the game. “But if he doesn’t want to play, he doesn’t have to play. Simple as that.”
On Sunday, Spurrier reclassified Clowney’s injury as a muscle strain. Spurrier said the frustration he expressed a day earlier was a result of how late Clowney waited to tell his coaches he wouldn’t play.
“It was just we didn’t know he wasn’t playing until right before the game,” Spurrier said. “That is always a little frustrating. Usually the trainer or doctor comes and tells you this guy is out, and that did not happen last night. But on the other side if a player is in pain and can’t play, I don’t want him to play. None of us do.”
Asked about Clowney’s commitment to the Gamecocks, Spurrier said, “You’ll have to ask him that.”
Spurrier’s kept Clowney on a short leash with the media since early August, letting him speak only after games. Spurrier said that would change this week to give Clowney a chance to explain his injury.
Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said Saturday he thought Clowney would play during the team’s walk-through and was surprised when he learned he wouldn’t be playing.