Spurrier and Kiffin take stage tonight

Southern football is as much about villains as it is heroes, and two of the most notorious evil-doers are in the spotlight tonight, both leading teams called USC.

Steve Spurrier and his South Carolina Gamecocks take on Southern Miss in their season opener at 7:30 on ESPN. Lane Kiffin, the new head coach at Southern Cal after bolting from Tennessee after one year, makes his debut against Hawaii at 11, also on ESPN.

Spurrier is still reviled in these parts as the man who ended decades of Georgia dominance in the Georgia-Florida series -- and delighted in reminding Bulldog fans about it. From 1990 until 2001, when he left the Gators to become head coach of the Washington Redskins, Spurrier's teams went 11-1 against the Bulldogs.

His infamous dig at the Dawgs -- "How is it when [Georgia] signs people, they get the ‘best' players, but when we play, we've got the best players?" -- still grates on Bulldog fans, even though he's 1-4 against them at South Carolina.

Georgia wasn't his only target; he loved to zing Tennessee as well. "You can't spell Citrus without UT," he said of the Vols' frequent appearance in the SEC's No. 2 bowl at the time. He also proclaimed them "Knox County champions" in 1996 after a season that started with national championship ambitions but ended with losses to Florida and Memphis.

Most recently he chided the Vols for backing out of a series with North Carolina: "Golly, times have changed when Tennessee doesn't want to play North Carolina in football because they're too good for them."

Kiffin is also hated in the SEC for his loose-cannon tactics after being hired as Tennessee coach in 2008 -- accusing Florida coach Urban Meyer of cheating in recruiting and bragging that  his team would never lose to Georgia. He also accused Georgia coaches of being "asleep" in recruiting and vowed to lure the state's best high school talent to Knoxville.

He left after one year and a 7-6 record to accept the Trojans' head coaching position, escaping an angry mob of fans outside his Knoxville home. In the end, however, there was one boast he made good on: He never did lose to Georgia.