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Dec. 5, 2005

South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier was named the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, the Associated Press announced today. Freshman wide receiver Sidney Rice and sophomore safety Ko Simpson were named to the all-conference first team, while a pair of cornerbacks, Johnathan Joseph and Fred Bennett, were named second team and honorable mention respectively.

Spurrier led the Gamecocks to a 7-4 record in his first season at South Carolina, including a 5-3 mark in the SEC. He led the squad to a school record five consecutive SEC wins, including the school’s first win at Tennessee and their first win over Florida since the 1930s. It marks the eighth time that Spurrier has been named his conference’s Coach of the Year – 1988 and ’89 in the ACC with Duke and 1990, ’91, ’94, ’95 and ’96 in the SEC with Florida.

“I’m thrilled and honored that the writers would name me SEC Coach of the Year,” said Spurrier. “This award is a reflection on our players, assistant coaches and everyone associated with the team. Our team achieved just about the maximum we could this year and as a head coach that’s what you look for each season.”

Rice led the league in receiving yards per game at 95.2, finishing the season with four 100-yard receiving games in his last five contests. The 6-4, 191-pounder from Gaffney, S.C., caught 58 passes for 952 yards and 12 touchdowns, just two shy of the NCAA freshman receiving record.

“It feels good,” said Rice upon receiving news of his first team selection. “It’s a great honor. Very similar to when I was named National Freshman of the Year, none of this would be possible without such a good coach and great teammates. So this is really a credit to them. From a personal standpoint, I’m very excited to get an honor like this.”

Simpson, a 6-1, 202-pounder from Rock Hill, S.C., led the SEC defensive backs in tackles, averaging 8.5 stops per game. He was a second team selection a year ago.

“This is a good honor to get because there are so many good players in the SEC,” said Simpson. “I’m fortunate to be part of a good secondary here and it’s nice to get an honor like this. I’m also happy for Johnathan, Fred and Sidney for also getting recognized.”

The Gamecocks will take on the Missouri Tigers in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. on December 30. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m. ET.