So those who know me well know Tuesday was a tough day for me. First My Gator starting QB Grier fails a drug test and tests positive for PEDs and then the Lord Who is Our God – Steve Spurrier (still the Best Coach Florida or the SEC has ever known) goes up and Retires – right dab in the middle of the season. So realize first that when Steve came into our lives in late 1989 – we didn’t know much about this offensive mastermind – but we knew he was a Gator. Listen Florida was consistent in one thing BS (Before Spurrier) they were consistent in almost getting over the hump. In 56 years as a member of the SEC UF had NEVER won the conference and kept the title. Heck in 1984 when the Great Wall of Florida and that powerhouse team finally went 9-1-1 and won the SEC – the title was stripped when they caught us cheating) the average record for UF BS was 8-4, a decent bowl game (rarely on New Year’s Day) and a just Wait till Next Year Cry that was heard for – well 56 years.
Then came Steve Orr Spurrier – the Head/Ole Ballcoach – And boy did he turn the SEC and the nation upside down with his revolutionary offense in those first 6 years in the SEC. Five SEC titles in 6 years and man was it fun being a Gator. Spurrier was cocky and obnoxious and competitive as hell – he was good, his team’s were good and he knew it. He pounded just about every team in the SEC – especially the one’s he held a grudge against (11-1 vs GA). He averaged 10 wins a year at Florida, named one of the iconic Stadiums in all of College Football THE SWAMP (where only Gators get out Alive), and turned the University of Florida Gators into a household name for College Football that can mentioned in the same breath as USC, Alabama, Notre Dame, and Michigan. Spurrier was the kind of coach you loved if he was your ballcoach and hated if he was on the other sideline. He had a way of needling the other coaches and teams in the conference and seldom did he not speak his mind. In this world of PC and coaches playing it close to the vest – Steve Spurrier was must see TV – every interview, sideline report and coaches show became man what is he going to say now. And no matter what – it was always what he was feeling right then – no sensor – just the truth. And speaking of truth – Steve Spurrier NEVER cheated – he ran clean programs, recruited good kids and kicked their butts off the team if they did something really wrong. Spurrier will leave the game as the winningest coach at 2 SEC Schools (both schools that had never sustained winning before his arrival), he’s 2nd to just the Great Bear Bryant in total Wins in the SEC. To win at Florida was one thing – we had always had the facilities, players, money to succeed. But to win at South Carolina – a school that had only once had a 10 win season in a no nothing league – and to win 11 games in back to back to back seasons in the SEC?- Well that was Truly amazing. There are those that will argue the modern game had passed him by. And in retrospect he probably should have hung up the ole visor at 70, after a very frustrating last 7-6 season. By retiring mid season he will leave having only had 1 losing season in all his years as a head coach – his first full season at Duke. Again to win at Duke – when he won was also unbelievable.But that is always what Old Spur Dawg, The Ole Ballcoach, The Head Ballcoach was – unbelievable. Rest up your weary bones at Crescent Beach and Recharge that battery Ole Ballcoach – you deserve it. Then come home to the Promise land and the SWAMP that you named and take your place in the Ring of Honor as Florida’s favorite son, Player, QB, Heisman Winner, and the Best Ballcoach the Gators or the SEC has ever seen oh and thanks for the memories.
Its why I named this blog the Ole Ballcoach !!
A saddened Gator Shane –Missing the Ole Ballcoach already
Florida Tribute stick around and watch the the James Bates interview – it will make you cry its so funny.
The Visor in the Wind Tribute – cute –
Steve Spurrier was a college football coach you could dance to, Bianchi says
Mike Bianchi Orlando Sentinel Steve Spurrier was the SEC Network before the SEC Networkl
It was nearly two decades ago when Steve Spurrier told me to get in his car because he wanted me to hear this song he really liked.It was near the end of his coaching heyday at the University of Florida when he plugged in the Lee Ann Womack tape and began to mouth the words to himself.
“I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
“I hope you dance … I hope you dance!”
Steve Spurrier officially announced Tuesday he is stepping down as the Head Ball Coach, and I believe it’s because the music stopped playing and he stopped dancing. Which is to say, he stopped winning. Which is to say, he stopped having fun.As someone who covered Spurrier from the moment he became the head coach at UF in 1990, fun was what he was all about – on and off the field. When he brought his space-age offense to the stone-age Southeastern Conference and began “pitching it around the ballpark” to wide open receivers who literally did back flips in the end zone after catching all those TD passes, I wrote that a revolutionary new offense — “the Fun ‘N’ Gun” — had been born. Coining the name of Spurrier’s trail-blazing offense is still perhaps the highlight of my sportswriting career.I could get all deep and philosophical about Spurrier’s multi-faceted legacy; I could tell you about how he did something nobody else has ever done by becoming the greatest player and greatest coach in his school’s history; I could chronicle how many games and championships he won and how many offensive records his teams set. But why? To me, his legacy is simple. It comes down to one word — “fun.” And this is how he should be remembered.He made football a blast for everybody involved: The players who played for him; the fans who rooted for him; the media who covered him; the TV audience who watched him.More than any other coach, the Spur-Dog is responsible for college football and the SEC becoming the TV cash cow it has become today. Spurrier’s arrival at UF in 1990 coincided with college football exploding on television. And Spurrier was the fuse.Gator Nation adored him; everyone else abhorred him. His “enemies” mocked him with nicknames like “Steve Superior” or “Stevie Wonder” or “The Mouth of the South” or “Darth Visor.” His supreme confidence in a fraternity filled with cliché-spewing, cookie-cutter coaches amped up rival SEC stadiums to ear-splitting, tobacco-spitting levels. His pizzazz and panache; his color and candor made him a rock star in a profession filled with lounge singers. He was a young, charismatic Elvis; everyone else was Burl Ives.He surprised us by quoting Sun Tzu and Attila the Hun; he shocked us by benching Heisman-contending quarterback Terry Dean and replacing him with freshman Danny Wuerffel. His emotional sideline antics and epic visor tosses became SportsCenter staples. His quips and cracks about his opponents — “Free Shoes University” and “You can’t spell Citrus with UT” — made us laugh. And his offenses — his amazing, wide-open, “we don’t need a good punter cuz we don’t plan on punting much” offenses — made us marvel.Spurrier didn’t coach like, act like or talk like anybody else in the profession. He was the opposite of Bear Bryant, the only SEC coach with more victories than him. The Bear once said, “I ain’t never had much fun. I ain’t never been two inches away from a football. Other guys go fishing or hunting or golfing, and all I want to do is be alone, studying how not to lose.”For some reason, I just can’t picture the Bear soaking up the sun, suds and surf on the weekend before a big game against Auburn. But Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has often told the story about when he was Spurrier’s young defensive coordinator at UF two decades ago. It was an open weekend before the mega-matchup against Tennessee, and Spurrier and Stoops were frolicking in the waves at the HBC’s favorite place in the world — Crescent Beach.”Stoopsy, you think those Tennessee boys are body-surfing right now?” Spurrier said gleefully.Two years ago on the weekend before South Carolina came down to play UCF in Orlando, Spurrier again was at Crescent Beach with his wife and family. When I reached him on the phone and asked him what he was doing, he replied with a chuckle: “Me and my grandkids are going to take the boogie boards out and catch some waves.”But, sadly, it was another game against UCF earlier this season when Spurrier first started to sense it. When his Gamecocks trailed the winless Knights 14-8 at halftime, Spurrier admitted Monday that he knew his team and his time were done.Even his final act as coach on Tuesday was refreshingly different than that of his peers. I’ve heard critics say Spurrier “quit” on his team by resigning midseason, but I say he’s actually helping his program. Spurrier, who called himself a “recruiting liability” on Tuesday, is doing South Carolina a favor by not hanging on until the bitter end. He doesn’t want airplanes flying over the stadium with “Fire Spurrier” banners; fans calling for his ouster on message boards; recruits flocking to rival schools.He’s always taken great pride in the fact he’s never been fired as a head coach, and he never wanted to get forced out like his old rivals Bobby Bowden and Phil Fulmer. He wanted to walk out the door, not get shoved through it.”It’s time for me to get out of the way and give somebody else a go at it,” Spurrier said Tuesday.Added his daughter Amy Moody as she fought back tears: “There’s no exit strategy in coaching. You either get fired or you have a heart attack. My dad didn’t want to go out like that.”Instead, he goes out like this.Fun and done.A national treasure riding his golf cart into the sunset at Crescent Beach.Bye, bye, Mr. American Pie.Is this the day the music died?Or can you still hear Lee Ann coming from the car speakers of the coach who taught us to get out there on that floor and boogie your butt off.
“Don’t let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance.
I hope you dance.”
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BianchiWrites. Listen to his radio show every weekday from 6 to 9 a.m. on FM 96.9 The Game.
Steve Spurrier’s Fun ‘n’ Gun brought football evolution to the SEC
Ivan Maisel, ESPN Senior Writer
To understand the effect that Steve Spurrier had on Southeastern Conference football, you have to go back to 1989, the year before he arrived. LSU led the league in passing offense, averaging 258.1 yards per game.
LSU finished 4-7.For all of the 1980s, Vanderbilt led the league in passing offense, averaging 228 yards per game. Vandy won 33 games in the entire decade.Passing was what you did because you couldn’t run. It was an admission of weakness in an old-school league. We can’t control the line of scrimmage, so we’re reduced to throwing over it.And then the 44-year-old Spurrier returned to his alma mater, where he had won the 1966 Heisman Trophy as a quarterback (he threw for 2,012 yards that season, by the way). He took over a Florida team that had been wracked not by losing, but by scandal. Coach Galen Hall had paid a player and a few assistants money that the NCAA manual said he shouldn’t. Spurrier returned and wasted no time.”If you want to be successful,” Spurrier told S.L. Price of Sports Illustrated in 1995, “you have to do it the way everybody does it and do it a lot better — or you have to do it differently. I can’t outwork anybody and I can’t coach the off-tackle play better than anybody else. So I figured I’d try to coach some different ball plays, and instead of poor-mouthing my team, I’d try to build it up to the point where the players think, Coach believes we’re pretty good; by golly, let’s go prove it.”Five quarterbacks competed for the starting job in Spurrier’s first spring. Writer Buddy Martin recalled that Spurrier said he didn’t know who would run the offense, but “whoever it is will lead the SEC in passing next year.” On the first play of the spring game, the Gators’ offense lined up three receivers wide left, and quarterback Shane Matthews threw a 35-yard completion.The Fun ‘n’ Gun had arrived. The Gators not only went 9-2 in 1990, but they did it while throwing for 290.6 yards per game. Only the NCAA probation that Hall left behind kept Florida from winning the SEC. The next season, Florida threw for 308.5 yards per game and won its first conference championship. Ever.Spurrier, the son of a Tennessee minister, was committing football heresy. This was football evolution. The running game, and stopping the run, were no longer enough to win championships, as God or Gen. Robert Neyland had written on stone tablets.Alabama staved off Spurrier in 1992 with a defense for the ages. But the Gators won the next four SEC titles, beating the Crimson Tide in the league championship game in three of those seasons.Spurrier won the league playing one quarterback; he won it playing two. He won it with straight-up better athletes — speedy receivers and tough running backs — and he won it, most memorably, with trick plays. Florida’s winning touchdown drive in its 24-23 defeat of Alabama in the 1994 SEC championship game featured three of them: a fake injury, a double pass and the Emory & Henry formation.After 1996, when the Gators won their first national championship, and quarterback Danny Wuerffel won the school’s second Heisman Trophy, Spurrier would win only one more SEC title, in 2000.He resigned from Florida after the 2001 season, tired of being a megawatt celebrity and interested in the NFL. His Gators led the nation that season with 405.2 passing yards per game. Four other SEC teams threw for at least 270 yards per game.Yes, there had been other influences on the passing game in the SEC during the Spurrier era. Hal Mumme brought the Air Raid no-huddle spread to Kentucky with a coaching staff that included Mike Leach. Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer and offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe developed quarterback Peyton Manning and won a national championship with Tee Martin.But Spurrier opened the door when he introduced the SEC to the forward pass. In his first game when he returned to the league in 2005 at South Carolina, Spurrier’s quarterback, Blake Mitchell, completed his first seven passes. His Gamecocks offenses never had as much fun or gun as those Gators teams, but they had enough to win 11 games for the first time in school history. That was in 2011. South Carolina did it again the next two seasons.
Spurrier is one of last true originals
TAMPA — Martin Fennelly Columns Tampa Tribune-
Maybe he stayed too long. Don’t they all? Or maybe he didn’t. He’d surely make that point with you, probably mentioning in there how many times his South Carolina teams have beaten Clemson lately. But his departure was predictably unpredictable, like the man himself. At the news conference, he insisted he was resigning, not retiring. No tears. Not even close. Not his deal. He’ll never give an inch.But Steve Spurrier, now 70 (hard to believe), decided to quit (is there another word?) in the middle of a season and a four-game losing streak. He leaves the game and conference he changed forever. I don’t really like how he left. But what I truly hate is seeing him go.Has anyone ever been more fun?There are so few originals left in college football or anywhere else. Stephen Orr Spurrier, the son of a preacher man, was one of them. He did it his way the whole way, forever young, eternally brash.He’ll go down as one of the icons in college history, certainly at the top of the Southeastern Conference with Bear Bryant and now Nick Saban. But what fun is Nick Saban? For that matter, what kind of entertainment are today’s dull, homogenized workaholics next to the Head Ball Coach?The Spur Dog was always fun. He despised boring nearly as much as losing. Forever young, eternally brash.Spurrier is the winningest coach in Florida football history. The Flying Visor could have been named state bird at one point. Yes, he made mistakes, like his short-lived NFL money grab. Then he went back to being Head Ball Coach at college, where he belonged. In his 60s, he became the winningest coach in South Carolina football history, too.There’s so much Spurrier history that we sometimes have to strain to remember that he was voted the best college ball player in America in 1966 to win the Heisman Trophy. Oh, yeah. That.He returned to Gainesville in 1990, full of ideas from USFL Bandit Ball in Tampa and a warm-up act at Duke. Most of the ideas were vertical in nature.
Spurrier changed the SEC as if his game plans were plates shifting deep under the earth. His offense was an earthquake. Look around the country today, at all the pass-happy teams. You’re staring at part of Spurrier’s legacy.Urban Meyer won two national titles at Gainesville to Spurrier’s one, but it was Spurrier who first ignited the Florida boiler, who made greatness the standard. And he was a million times more fun than the gaunt, grim Meyer.As Gators coach, kicking field goals became a form of pestilence. The Dog was unrepentant after hanging half a hundred on the other guys — that’s what the scoreboard was for, wasn’t it?But the Spurrier code didn’t allow for flinching when someone ran it up on him. Like when Nebraska scored 62 points and crushed Florida’s perfect season in the Fiesta Bowl. The morning after, Spurrier came off a hotel elevator and spotted some “writer boys” (media). “The old aftermath story,” he said, adding that if he’d been Nebraska, he’d have tried to score again. We believed him.I don’t think the man knew how to cheat. In his world, everything came from beating the other guy straight up. I don’t think Spurrier’s pride, or ego, could have stood winning by any means other than his mastermind designs.But for all his cutting-edge offenses, there was something old-fashioned, so Be True To Your School about Spurrier. It was as genuine as his competitiveness. He always mentioned his college coach, Ray Graves, Coach Graves. Mr. Heisman married his college sweetheart, Jerri. They’re still going strong. Spurrier would make his Florida teams stand with him after games to sing the alma mater, though he was the only one who knew the words. After he left Gainesville, he’d sometimes slip and refer to the Gators as “We.” Everyone understood.Spurrier possessed one of the all-time needles. He was as good at getting under people’s skin as he was throwing over their defenses. Men like Tennessee’s Phil Fulmer, Georgia’s Ray “Goof” (Spurrier’s word) and, of course, Bobby Bowden, fumed at Spurrier’s barbs. Free Shoes University. You can’t spell Citrus without U-T. And all the rest. What a boxed set. Back to Spurrier-Bowden, one of the great rivalries. Bobby beat the Dog more than the Dog beat Bobby, though Spurrier won the national title showdown that night in New Orleans. The rest of us never lost when those two got together. It was glorious. Spurrier never knew why Bowden let someone else call the ball plays. Bowden never knew why Spurrier made it so dadgum personal. We’ll never know how lucky we were to have them around at the same time.My boss made a great point: Spurrier and Bowden are among the last links to a different time, when college football coaches weren’t cardboard cut-outs or control freaks. Spurrier and Bowden had a blast even as they won tons of games. I can remember Spurrier enjoying media lunches during the week, or breakfast with Bobby after FSU home games. Really, lunches and breakfasts instead of streamed-live coaches’ information obligations.There was a time when we assumed Spurrier would be on the golf course by age 60. He always said he didn’t want to be one of those sad cases. Who knew then that 70 was his new 40. Tuesday, he left the door open as he went out it, saying he could turn up again. Predictably unpredictable. Sounds crazy. But I bet it would be fun.I mean, when wasn’t Steve Spurrier fun? Martin Fennelly Columns Tampa Tribune
Gene Frenette: No hesitation by Head Ball Coach, even in departing
By Gene Frenette Jax Times Uniion — Tue, Oct 13, 2015 @ 9:09 pm | updated Wed, Oct 14, 2015 @ 6:42 am
For the majority of his coaching career, Steve Spurrier’s ball plays often worked exactly the way he drew them up.
Unfortunately, the final chapter looked nothing like he designed it, so the Head Ball Coach called it quits. Not wanting to endure what was shaping up to be his worst season ever, Spurrier resigned Tuesday at South Carolina rather than go on acting like he was going to stick around beyond this year.
Spurrier, the ultimate competitor in any game he played or coached, can’t stand to lose. So at 70 years old, with the Gamecocks struggling at 2-4, it wasn’t a complete shock that a man who scaled the college football mountaintop at Florida decided it was time to ride off into the coaching sunset.
“There comes a time when you have to say, ‘What direction is our football program going?’ ” Spurrier said at his farewell news conference. “It wasn’t going in the direction I hoped, so it was time to step aside.“When something is inevitable, I believe you do it right then. You don’t wait a week or two weeks. Let’s start in a new direction today.”
Though some might question the timing, there’s no denying Spurrier provided college football with possibly the most entertaining, successful joy ride in history. Nobody had more fun winning championships on the field and trading jabs with rivals off the field.Spurrier was hell-bent on doing things his way, and never did that come across more than during his 12-year run (1990-2001) at Florida, where he captured six SEC championships and one national title. His “Fun ‘N’ Gun” offense, particularly with Gator quarterbacks Shane Matthews and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel setting prolific records, overwhelmed many opponents not used to such an unconventional style of attack.But what made Spurrier so riveting to watch is that he was just as bold in his press conferences as in his play-calling. He often said things or made jokes that many coaches might be thinking, but never had the gumption to say publicly.He needled everybody, though many of his barbs were planned or thought of in advance. Whether it was referring to Florida State as “Free Shoes University” after the 1994 Foot Locker scandal, or jabbing Tennessee fans by saying, “You can’t spell Citrus Bowl without U-T,” the Spurrier wit was a staple of his personality.Obviously, jokes from a coach are funnier when he’s winning, and Spurrier won big and often. His overall coaching mark of 228-89-2 (.717) was remarkable enough, but the more telling part is he was the winningest coach at Florida (122-27-1) and South Carolina (86-49), the only coach besides Paul “Bear” Bryant to achieve that at two different SEC schools.In 26 seasons at Duke, UF and with the Gamecocks, the innovative Spurrier left an indelible mark at every stop. He won an ACC championship (1989) in his third and final season at Duke. He made the Florida Gators a national phenomenon. He took a mediocre South Carolina program within one victory of its first SEC title in 2010, then followed with three consecutive 11-win seasons.Had Spurrier been able to sustain success in Columbia, he’d still be coaching.But after avoiding his first losing season in college last year by winning a bowl game against Miami, things quickly unraveled this year. Spurrier’s team lost to Kentucky at home and when his porous defense was the culprit in blowout losses to Georgia and LSU, he knew where this train was headed and decided to get off.Spurrier, in addition to being blunt in his public remarks, has always been brutally honest with himself.He saw his program “going south,” which is why he was ready to immediately turn the Gamecocks over to Shawn Elliott, his offensive line coach, on an interim basis.“I didn’t plan on going out this way,” Spurrier said. “I planned on going out up on the players’ shoulders in the Georgia Dome [with an SEC Championship].”In the end, one of college football’s ultimate gamblers knew when to fold ’em. He had a phenomenal college coaching ride – and he didn’t rule out a future coaching in high school or being a football consultant somewhere — but it was time to move on from being the Head Ball Coach.“Nothing goes on forever,” said Spurrier. “I’ve gone on longer than most people [in coaching]. I’ve been blessed way beyond my wildest expectations. It’s time to take on this adventure of the next part of my life.”Fun ‘N’ Done. College football won’t be the same without him.
Take a look back at Spurrier’s Gator years
By Joey Johnston | Tampa Tribune Staff Published: October 13, 2015 | Updated: October 14, 2015 at 07:49 AM
Early in his University of Florida football head-coaching career, Steve Spurrier was dissecting a victory during a postgame news conference. One writer asked him about a fourth-down call. Why did he go for it instead of settling for a field goal? Spurrier cocked his head quizzically.“Where you from?” Spurrier, who resigned Tuesday as South Carolina’s head coach, was a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and a 10-year NFL player. He recycled plenty of hilarious banquet material from his season with the 0-14 expansion Bucs of 1976. He created “Bandit Ball” in the USFL and guided Duke — Duke! — to an ACC championship. In the last 11 seasons, he never won a championship with the Gamecocks, but he gave the program a measure of respectability and feistiness that had never existed. Make no mistake, though: There’s only one true place Spurrier is from, one period of time that defined him as a coach and a man. His dozen seasons (1990-2001) as UF’s head coach — chock full of memorable quips, unforgettable victories and reams of yardage — will live forever in college football lore.
“When you say something’s a problem, it is. When you say something’s not, a lot of times it isn’t. The Gators were always real good about finding excuses for not being successful.”
— New Florida coach Steve Spurrier in 1990, on changing the mentality of UF’s program
“He just flat out told us there was no reason we should lose to Georgia every year. The teams were always about even, but we had a built-in advantage. We were going to Jacksonville, Florida, to a stadium called the Gator Bowl. This was a place where we were meant to win.”
— Florida LB Jerry Odom, in 1990, talking about UF’s annual game with Georgia
“The swamp is where Gators live. We feel comfortable there. And we hope our opponents feel tentative. A swamp is hot and sticky and can be dangerous.”
— Spurrier in 1991, while declaring Florida Field would be known as “The Swamp”
“How is it when they sign people they get the best players, but when we play, we have the best players? Something just happens to them when they get to Georgia, I guess.”
— Spurrier in 1991, after a 45-13 win against Georgia
“The way I see it, we all screw up. Sportswriters correct and criticize. Fine. But if something happens the other way around, you have to say, ‘Hey, that’s not right.’ We’re all correctable. I get mad, but I don’t stay mad.”
— Spurrier in 1993, on his sometimes fiery relationship with the media
“My self-motivation is just hating — despising — to lose. I don’t like to shake hands with the other coach after losing. To me, it’s a little bit of an embarrassment. That coach has beaten you, and in his mind he’s saying, ‘I’m tougher than Spurrier. I had my team better prepared than Spurrier.’ That’s all the motivation I need.”
— Spurrier in 1993, on his game-day focus
“We’ve always heard rumors about them. We’ve always suspected. They’ve beaten us four out of five years in recruiting. Heck, maybe they’re the greatest recruiters in the world. But maybe there are other reasons those guys go there. Those guys always say they feel ‘more comfortable’ going to FSU. Well, maybe we’re starting to realize what that ‘more comfortable’ means.”
— Spurrier in 1994, after describing Florida State University as “Free Shoes University” in light of reports that Seminoles players had received free merchandise at a Tallahassee Foot Locker
“You can’t spell Citrus without U-T.”
— Spurrier in 1997, on Tennessee’s penchant for failing to win the SEC and settling for the Citrus Bowl
“It would probably be good if somebody just spanked (Spurrier) and put him to bed.”
— FSU athletic director Dave Hart in 2001, responding to Spurrier’s accusations that Seminoles DL Darnell Dockett intentionally tried to injure Gators RB Earnest Graham
“The truth hurts, doesn’t it? What did Sun Tzu say? ‘Better your enemy talk evil of you, than not at all?’ ”
— Spurrier in 2001, responding to Hart
- QUARTERBACKS: Spurrier’s demanding expectations made All-Americans out of Danny Wuerffel, Shane Matthews and Rex Grossman. However, when Terry Dean and Doug Johnson bucked the coach’s wishes or questioned him publicly, it often got ugly.
- THE FSU RIVALRY: The Florida-FSU rivalry hit its apex during the Spurrier era. Twice, the Gators and Seminoles staged rematches in the Sugar Bowl, once with a national title on the line. A nice little regional game became an annual national showcase.
- SEC-OND TO NONE: His presence in the SEC changed the stodgy, run-oriented league forever. He handed each conference school the worst loss in its history, so opponents had to change just to keep up. Spurrier finished 11-1 against Georgia, formerly UF’s nemesis.
- THE QUOTES: Name your poison. Free Shoes University? The public gigging of Ray Goff, Phillip Fulmer or (insert coach here)? Accusations of late hits by FSU? Dockett-gate? Open mocking of the BCS? Can’t spell Citrus without U-T? Spurrier took on all comers, fanning the flames of controversy without batting an eye.
- LOYALTY: Spurrier was a Gator, through and through. UF was his school. He required his players to sing the alma mater. He thought Gainesville was the best place on earth. He bled orange and blue. You were either with him or against him.
HIGHS AND LOWS
THE IMPORTANT WINS
- Florida 52, FSU 20 Jan. 2, 1997 How Sweet It Was: UF’s first national title in the Sugar Bowl.
- Florida 35, FSU 24 Nov. 25, 1995 Gators move to 11-0, setting up SEC title and Fiesta Bowl bid.
- Florida 35, Kentucky 26 Nov. 16, 1991 Gators hang on to clinch UF’s first official SEC championship.
- Florida 17, Alabama 13 Sept. 15, 1990 Gators make statement, rally from 13-0 deficit in Spurrier’s second game.
- Florida 62, Tennessee 37 Sept. 16, 1995 An NBA-like run: Gators rout Volunteers with 48 unanswered points.
- Florida 24, Alabama 23 Dec. 3, 1994 Spurrier’s final-drive trickery pulls off SEC championship game win.
- Florida 32, FSU 29 Nov. 22, 1997 Gators strike late, ruin season for unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Seminoles.
- Florida 14, FSU 9 Nov. 30, 1991 Memorable defensive effort spotlights Spurrier’s first win against FSU.
- Florida 41, West Virginia 7 Jan. 1, 1994 Sugar Bowl rout clinches the first 11-victory season in UF history.
- Florida 35, Tennessee 29 Sept. 21, 1996 Gators roll in Knoxville with 35-0 lead against Vols and Peyton Manning.
THE DEVASTATING LOSSES
- Nebraska 62, Florida 24 Jan. 2, 1996 Cornhuskers rush for 524 yards in Fiesta Bowl’s national title game.
- Tennessee 34, Florida 32 Dec. 1, 2001 Gators lose Rose Bowl opportunity, fail on late two-point conversion.
- LSU 28, Florida 21 Oct. 11, 1997 No. 1 Gators go down in flames before Saturday night Cajun crowd.
- Auburn 36, Florida 33 Oct. 15, 1994 Frankie Sanders scores late TD to deflate top-ranked Gators at home.
- FSU 31, Florida 31 Nov. 26, 1994 OK, it’s a tie; but surrendering 28-3 fourth-quarter lead made it a loss.
- FSU 24, Florida 21 Nov. 30, 1996 No. 1 Gators go down, but get Sugar Bowl rematch and win national title.
- Tennessee 45, Florida 3 Oct. 13, 1990 Rocky Top still ringing in the ears of Spurrier’s first UF team.
- Alabama 34, Florida 7 Dec. 4, 1999 SEC title on line; Gators were rarely this flat in such a big game.
- Tennessee 20, Florida 17 Sept. 9, 1998 Gators miss field goal in OT; Volunteers go on to win national title.
- Alabama 40, Florida 39 Oct. 2, 1999 Fumbled punt, missed PAT open door and ends 30-game home win streak.
Rivals respected Spurrier, despite his constant digs
COLUMBIA, S.C. — After Florida State beat Florida 24-21 and replaced the Gators as the No. 1 team in the country in the final regular-season game in 1996, then-Gators coach Steve Spurrier opened fire on the Seminoles and coach Bobby Bowden.After it was announced that the Gators and Seminoles would play again for the national championship in the Sugar Bowl, Spurrier accused FSU’s menacing defense of hitting quarterback Danny Wuerffel late on several occasions during their earlier meeting. Spurrier went as far as to suggest that Bowden coached his team to play dirty.”After we beat them, the next morning I was on a national TV hookup and Steve is on there, too,” Bowden said. “He starts accusing me of playing dirty football. I was shocked because I wasn’t ready for it. We kind of fussed about it for awhile.”For more than a month, Spurrier accused the Seminoles of taking cheap shots on Wuerffel, his Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. In the first meeting, the Seminoles hit Wuerffel on 32 of 76 plays. They sacked him six times and were penalized twice for late hits.”Danny Wuerffel should not be treated like a tackling dummy because he plays quarterback against FSU,” Spurrier told reporters when the Gators arrived in New Orleans for the game. “He took some hits he shouldn’t have taken, and I spoke out and hope it’s not going to happen again.”A couple of nights before the Sugar Bowl, Bowden and Spurrier were alone together during a bowl banquet.”We were behind the curtain fixing to go do something, and he said, ‘Hey, look, I didn’t mean any personal feelings about that. I was only trying to fire up my ball club.'” Bowden said. “Probably a lot of it was true. He was trying to motivate his team.”The Gators were certainly motivated, as they routed the Seminoles 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl to win the first national championship in school history. In an old-school league where passing had been an admission of weakness, Steve Spurrier brought Florida to prominence with a new attack.It wasn’t the first time Spurrier took verbal jabs at his in-state rival while coaching the Gators. Two years earlier, when the NCAA was investigating whether eight FSU players received $6,000 worth of merchandise paid for by an unregistered agent during an after-hours shopping spree at a Foot Locker store in Tallahassee, Florida, Spurrier referred to FSU as “Free Shoes U.”
“Our recruiting, we had another solid year,” Spurrier told a group of Florida boosters in 1994. “We didn’t get as many blue-chip players as FSU got, but I’m starting to understand why they’re getting so many of those guys now.”FSU was placed on NCAA probation in 1996 for failing to monitor agent activity, including the infamous shopping spree.”He’s a natural-born needler,” Bowden said. “He’s the needler champion of the world. I don’t care who he played, he was going to needle them. He needled me, but I thought it was funny. The ‘Free Shoes University,’ I thought was very clever. I never took it personally because I always respected him.”At least Bowden wasn’t Spurrier’s only target during his 25 years as a head coach. Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, whose teams battled the Gators for SEC supremacy during much of the 1990s, was one of Spurrier’s favorite punching bags. After the Vols finished second behind Florida in the SEC East in four straight seasons from 1993-96, Spurrier quipped that “you can’t spell Citrus without UT.” About UT quarterback Peyton Manning returning to school for his senior season in 1997, Spurrier said, “I know why Peyton came back for his senior year. He wanted to be a three-time star of the Citrus Bowl.””I absolutely wanted to ring his neck,” Fulmer said. “I shot back at him one time with something about him playing golf all the time. It was irritating. It was off subject because it was supposed to be about the teams and the kids. He [needled] the teams he respected or the teams he had to beat, whether it was Tennessee, Florida State, Georgia or whoever. It was his style.”Fulmer said he never took the shades personally.”His style and personality were important for the conference,” Fulmer said. “A lot of people think Steve and I don’t like each other, but we’re great friends. He was great to be around if we were at the conference spring meetings or a golf tournament. He was a fun guy, but if you put a microphone in front of him he can be a jerk.”Spurrier wasn’t afraid to poke at a rival about anything — even astronomy. When Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was asked about his relationship with Spurrier in 2014, he told USA Today, “He’s from Pluto, I’m from Mars.”It wasn’t long before Spurrier pounced on Swinney’s mistake.”I just said that we get along, we’re fine, we’re just different,” Swinney told reporters Tuesday. “He’s from Mars, I’m from Pluto. You know, we’re just different in ways. The next thing you know, it’s all over ESPN that he’s from Mars and I’m from Pluto. Then he comes back and says, ‘I don’t think Dabo knows Pluto ain’t a planet anymore.'”I’m like, ‘Dadgum, Pluto was a planet when I was at Alabama,” Swinney said. “I missed that news flash along the way. Then lo and behold we finally beat them suckers last year and guess what has happened? Pluto has made a comeback. Pluto is now a planet once again. He’s just one of the best at picking up on what somebody says and having some fun with it.”Former Georgia coach Ray Goff, who coached the Bulldogs from 1989 to 1995 and never beat the Gators, was on the wrong end of several of Spurrier’s jokes.After the Gators clinched their first SEC championship with a 45-13 win over Georgia in 1991, Spurrier told reporters, “How is it when [Georgia] signs people, they get the ‘best,’ but when we play, we’ve got the best players? Georgia has signed a lot of good players. Something just happens to them at Georgia, I guess.”When the Georgia-Florida game moved to the schools’ campuses for two years during the mid-1990s because of construction at Jacksonville’s stadium, which has traditionally hosted the annual border war, the Gators beat the Bulldogs 52-17 in Athens. At the time, Florida was the only opponent to score more than 50 points in Sanford Stadium.Florida backup quarterback Eric Kresser threw a touchdown pass with about one minute to go in the game. As Spurrier left the field, a Georgia fan doused him with a cup of tobacco spit.”A lot of our coaches have mentioned to me that no one had scored 50 points in here before, so we wanted to do that,” Spurrier said at the time. “We wanted to try to make it a memorable game for the Gators, and it was.”That wasn’t the only time the Gators scored late in a lopsided win over Georgia. In 1998, Florida handed the ball to a wide receiver to score the final touchdown with 38 seconds left.”Oh, I can’t worry about what the other coach thinks when we run a play to a seventh-team wide receiver,” Spurrier joked.Spurrier even referred to Goff as “Ray Goof.”It still seems to be an open wound.”It didn’t bother me at all,” Goff said. “That’s just Steve. It was his personality. Steve is very outspoken and he speaks his mind. I think he’s very open and very honest and he was a great football coach.”I’m not going to get into it. It’s not about him and me. It’s about him retiring. I’m not going to get into all that crap. That’s all it is — crap.”Current Georgia coach Mark Richt said he never took Spurrier’s verbal jabs personally. When the annual Georgia-South Carolina game was moved from Week 2 to Week 6 in 2012, Spurrier told ESPN.com, “I sort of always liked playing them that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.”Richt said, “He was fun to compete against because you just never know what was going to happen or you never knew what he might say. Some people got real bent out of shape with a lot of things he said. I never really did.”The thing I liked the most about Coach Spurrier is that he was always just honest about everything. What he was saying is what he was thinking, and he wasn’t going to pull any punches one way or another. I appreciated that about him. I didn’t always agree with everything he said, but I never really took anything too personally if he was trying to have little fun here and there.”
Linda Robertson: Saturdays won’t be the same without great innovator Steve Spurrier
By Linda Robertsonlrobertson@miamiherald.com
Steve Spurrier resigned Monday. Typically he would insert a punch line here, but he didn’t have one for the occasion of his own farewell.The head ball coach decided to step down rather than fade away. He decided to get out before he found himself no longer the provocateur but the object of clever barbs.A humbled Steve Superior? What an unappealing picture that would be. Unless you’re a Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama or Florida State fan who could take some revenge with a Spurrier-like zinger: “You can’t spell ‘losers quit’ without two S’s, a U and an R.”It was a sad day for college football. The irreverent, innovative coach who freed the game from its numbing earnestness and hidebound playbook will no longer be on the sideline. Spurrier announced he is resigning immediately at South Carolina, where the Gamecocks fell to 2-4 overall and 0-4 in the SEC after a 45-24 loss to LSU. Saturdays won’t be the same without Spurrier throwing his visor and instructing his quarterback to throw the football until the cows come home or Bear Bryant flips in his grave, whichever happens first. Spurrier, who led Florida to its first national title 30 years after winning the Heisman Trophy as a Gator, warned that he is not retiring. But he emphasized it was time for change after 11 years at South Carolina, the third moribund program he had raised to prominence following three years at Duke and 12 at UF. The team’s record is 9-10 since the start of 2014. He said he sensed “this is about it for me,” especially after a painful struggle to beat 0-6 Central Florida.Spurrier, 70, said he always had the same answer when asked how much longer he planned to coach.“As long as we keep winning, winning these bowl games, everybody’s happy, we’re ranked, life is pretty good, I guess I can coach several more years,” he said. “But if it starts going south, starts going bad, then I need to get out. You can’t keep a coach that’s done it as long as I have when it’s moving in the wrong direction.”He worried that he was becoming a “recruiting liability” because of questions about his longevity and believed that players needed to hear “a new message and a new voice.”“Only two years ago we were fourth in the nation,” said Spurrier, who was replaced by assistant Shawn Elliott. “Somehow or other we’ve slid. I’m responsible. I’m the head coach. It’s time for me to sort of get out of the way and let somebody else have a go at it.”His revolutionary spirit will be missed, but his influence will be everlasting. He applied his imagination to football, which is why the college game today is more entertaining than the pro version. He shook things up with his wide-open offensive schemes, such as the Fun ‘n’ Gun. He’d brainstorm plays while eating, and scribble them down on napkins. He gave quarterbacks wide latitude to play like he played. Danny Wuerffel said Spurrier could make up a play in six seconds and was a master of improvisation and capitalizing on opponents’ weaknesses (although such “pitching the ball around” didn’t work in two years with the Redskins against NFL defenses). Plenty of coaches have copied Spurrier, and transformed programs in the process, but he was the original.Spurrier worked his magic in the conservative SEC, where he won six conference titles and scored at least 500 points per season for six seasons in a row. He gave the Gators a true home field advantage by imbuing Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with a foreboding sense of place.“The swamp is where the Gators live,” he said. “A swamp is hot and sticky and can be dangerous.”He refused to read from the standard coaching script. He said FSU stood for “Free Shoes University.” He said, “You can’t spell Citrus without UT,” and claimed he knew the real reason Peyton Manning returned for his senior year: “He wanted to be three-time Citrus MVP.”After a dorm fire at Auburn destroyed 20 books, Spurrier quipped: “The real tragedy was that 15 hadn’t been colored yet.”What a concept: Comic relief from a head ball coach rather than the usual fake respect for opponents or praise for crummy bowl games. Spurrier was the anti-Nick Saban.“In 12 years at Florida, I don’t think we ever signed a kid from the state of Alabama. Of course we found out later that the scholarships they were giving out were worth a whole lot more than ours,” was another classic.He preferred to play Georgia early in the season “because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.”Spurrier’s trash talk went over the line sometimes. Even his wife described him as a “brat.” Florida State athletic director Dave Hart once said, “It probably would be good if somebody would just spank [Spurrier] and put him to bed and hope that he wakes up all grown up.”Spurrier could be a petulant bully, and those who don’t like him will say his ego is telling him to cut and run at South Carolina before the slide turns into a blemish on his coaching genius.But love or hate the head ball coach, he put on a compelling show. College football will be less electric – and caustic – without him.Linda Robertson:
Waylp, bye: Steve Spurrier up and left
Most coaches get fired. Some retire. The man who won at three schools where he wasn’t supposed to win is just gone.
If Steve Spurrier had a speech for his team Monday night, you didn’t want to hear it. When he left Florida in 2002 for Washington’s NFL team, his press conference was short, unsentimental and unpolished. When he left that job two years later, he left millions of dollars on the table and did it quickly. In his own words, his “give-a-damn was busted.” When that happened, in Spurrier’s eyes, it was time to go, and immediately. He quit. You could ask him to explain it, but it wouldn’t go well. Spurrier is not Lou Holtz or Bobby Bowden. He really isn’t Bowden, who even in losses would ride a West Virginia twang over the thorniest questions. Spurrier’s best locker room speeches were accidental, like one prior to a 1996 drubbing of the Tennessee Volunteers in Neyland Stadium. He was just launching into it when an assistant bumped the light switch and sent the locker room into darkness. The players thought it was a motivational tactic, went nuts and stormed out to the field. Anyone who hired him for a corporate speaking junket knew they were getting someone who would reheat John Wooden, talk about winners and losers in a meandering way and then drink a few beers before disappearing into the night. Spurrier is fine one-on-one, and a great chatter with reporters, but podium oratory was never one of his strengths. This is a way of getting to the point that Spurrier is stepping down, and that the last person you want to ask about it is Spurrier. For all the one-liners and whiplash halftime interviews and sometimes bracing candor, the Head Ball Coach has been notoriously bad at explaining himself or his motivations. That is, unless he had an enemy to work against, in which case his motivations became crystalline.At Duke, his first head job, that oppositional other was Mack Brown at North Carolina. Spurrier called the eventual Texas CEO “Mr. Football” while taking pictures of the scoreboard after the Blue Devils humiliated the Tar Heels at Chapel Hill. While he didn’t have to say it in so many words, the implications about someone else said as much about Spurrier as anything. Brown represented the glad-handing booster with a football hobby, the politician who loitered by the whiteboard waiting for a real coach to show up and teach him how to score a few touchdowns on game day.At Florida, it would be Georgia head coach Ray Goff, a coach he almost single-handedly humiliated out of the profession and into the fried chicken business. After him, it was Phil Fulmer at Tennessee or Bowden at Florida State, depending on the year and how confident he felt about his team.Later, in the NFL, he’d cite the ruined careers of lesser coaches as justification for his methods.”Some coaches who spent a lot of hours had a lot of success,” he said. “Some got fired quickly. I know Brad Scott had a cot at South Carolina.”Spurrier took that South Carolina job and won, a transaction that implies two parties: the loser, who did losing things and lost all the time, and the other guy, the winner.That guy, it was strongly implied in any of these relationships, was always Spurrier.In a goodbye speech, there’s no opponent, so why would he have anything to do with it in the first place? He is bad at pitching, bad at explaining, but pretty good at the doing of the thing. When athletic director Jeremy Foley asked him to submit a resume for the Florida job in 2004, Spurrier reportedly told him to go look in the trophy case. He was insulted to point out something with words, like some endlessly lobbying huckster of a coach. That was beneath him, unclean, something only losers did. There were trophies, and a scoreboard. Read them for yourself.Things always seemed obvious to him. If he quit and walked out of the South Carolina building, his only explanation would be pointing to the scoreboard. That decided things. The rest was just speechifying.
Another coach Spurrier liked to tweak later in his career was Nick Saban, someone Spurrier would point out had taken the Alabama and LSU jobs.”If he wants to be the greatest coach or one of the greatest coaches in college football, to me, he has to go somewhere besides Alabama and win, because they’ve always won there at Alabama.You could take favorable jobs as a bad coach and look okay, or take great jobs as a good coach and look orders of magnitude better than you might actually be.Spurrier, in contrast, took the Duke, Florida and South Carolina jobs, jobs that were garbage scows before he arrived. He won at all three, in biblical fashion — the Old Testament Bible, where locusts ate your crops, lightning blew up your houses, and your village was flattened by a tidal wave before your rescue boat was swallowed by a whale. He drew the ire of illiterate nanny-take pissmerchants like New York columnist Mike Lupica, who accused Spurrier of running up the score, whatever that means.The Old Testament thing ran a little deeper than mere cruelty. Spurrier had and still has an intense sense of fairness, at least by the judgment of his own rules. When Nebraska decimated Florida 62-24 in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, Spurrier was visibly enraged when the Cornhuskers spent most of the fourth quarter running the clock out rather than scoring as many points as they could. He strained his relationship with Alabama coach Mike DuBose by asking him, point-blank in a letter, if Alabama was committing recruiting violations. Spurrier allegedly disliked Bill Clinton for one reason: he cheated at golf, and if he’d cheat at golf, he’d cheat at anything.That ledger of grievances and judgments ran long. Sometimes the turnaround on vengeance could be short, like when Mississippi State beat Florida in 2000 in Starkville and a Florida student manager was knocked out on the sidelines by a cowbell thrown from the stands. The following year, Spurrier put in Brock Berlin in relief in a blowout, then called a deep pass that went for a touchdown, admitting in the postgame that he’d scored a TD for the trainer in a 52-0 blowout. One reporter mentioned Mississippi State having the best pass defense in the nation going into the game. “Won’t be coming out, though” was Spurrier’s response.
Sometimes that long arc of account-settling ran very long. When Bill Curry came to Georgia Tech in 1980, he didn’t retain Spurrier or the rest of Pepper Rodgers’ staff. Spurrier retaliated by going 6-0 as an assistant and head coach against Curry in the ACC and 7-0 in the SEC, including a 73-7 game against Curry’s Kentucky I watched in person in 1994. If it sounds like three and a half hours of pure savagery, there is a very good reason for that: it was. Spurrier football at its most complete felt like uneven, sustained retaliation for an endless list of real and sometimes imagined offenses.
He retires as a singular presence in every sense. While he single-handedly changed the way the SEC plays football by winning with a pass-first offense, he has no great coaching tree or organizational legacy. While other playcallers bit his concepts, there is no philosophical heir, no real system like the air raid or the West Coast offense. There are concepts, and a loose playbook, sure, but most of Spurrier’s offense walks in the door when he arrives, and leaves with him when he goes. He called plays largely by feel, and always standing on the sidelines.
He also stands alone institutionally. He just walked out of the South Carolina job, a job he clearly regarded as a job and not a family, or a kind of personal mafia he could in retirement work for connections or a partnership in a car dealership. Imagine Swinney doing the same thing; you can’t, because Dabo sees Clemson as a place he’s a part of, not a place that is a part of him. Part of their rivalry came from this stark difference, sure, but that’s part of the story. Swinney will coach his last season to the final whistle and take a final lap around the stadium. Spurrier just skipped town like a drifter headed for the train tracks.Failure and rejection forged a lot of that singularity. His father was an exacting minister who would remind him, even in his best efforts on the basketball court or football field, of the mistake he’d made in the game, the bad pass, the shot he’d missed. Despite him growing up just down the road, Tennessee barely recruited him at quarterback because they ran the Wing-T. He went to Florida, where his success at an underachieving program was undermined (at least in his mind) by losing to Georgia in his Heisman season of 1966.He entered the NFL and eventually became the starting quarterback for the worst team to ever play the game, the winless 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Players had beers at his house after games, mostly to avoid going out in public.) After washing out of the league, he caught on as a quarterbacks coach at Florida and Georgia Tech, then as offensive coordinator at Duke. He became the youngest pro coach in history at 37 in the USFL, but went 1-1 against Lee Corso.He had a losing record against Bowden, lost one of the most lopsided games in national championship history and never won an SEC title at South Carolina. Spurrier would be the first to remind you of all this, too.Spurrier will also remind you that he won a lot of games, games those teams would have never dreamt of winning without his assistance. He did not belong to you, or the school or the fans. He did not belong to Dan Snyder, even after the owner tried to pay him for another season of toil in the NFL. You could buy someone like Jim Haslett, another lesser Spurrier enjoyed needling during his brief tenure in the NFL. At any level, you could only rent Spurrier, and only then with terms he could change at any second. He was the first coach to make $2 million dollars a year in college, and maybe one of the first to openly admit his careerism. He was, to some degree, a pioneering forefather of the modern bastard coaching model.To wit: Spurrier just ditched the team full of players who committed to play an entire season for the man. Then again, most of the people making that accusation would also have to admit that most players at South Carolina have barely had contact with Spurrier, who’s happily let his assistants run the program for the past few years. Spurrier’s public indecision on retirement was a chewtoy for both offseason column-raking and opponents recruiting against South Carolina. When Spurrier put a number on exactly how many years he had left, there was an uproar. When he changed course and said he’d stay for longer, he came off as unstable.
Leaving now probably doesn’t change much. It’s shocking, but it inadvertently lets South Carolina get a jump on hiring his replacement and answers the longer-term questions about recruiting sooner, rather than later. That replacement will walk into a much, much better situation than Spurrier walked into, and with better facilities and higher expectations than Spurrier had when taking over a program Lou Holtz left in the recycling bin.*
*Let’s be honest: the garbage pile, because Holtz probably believes recycling is a Communist plot.
Leaving now is awkward and unsentimental and selfish, but again: this is Steve Spurrier. You didn’t pay him to cuddle, though he was affectionate enough. You paid him to not only win, but to pick rivals out of a crowd, fixate on them and beat them until their teeth rattled. You paid him. It was a job, one where he showed up to thank the band each year and do all the delightfully antiquated things college football coaches do, sure.But in the end it was a job, and one that had devoured peers and mentors of his in ghastly ways. Bowden spent the better part of five years fighting the inevitable at Florida State, capitulating to a humiliating coach-in-waiting arrangement. Fulmer was flat fired at Tennessee, while a coach Spurrier admired, Joe Paterno, fell into abominable scandal in his old age at Penn State. Even his original Most Despised Rival, Mack Brown, could not politick or manage his way out of a grisly demise at Texas. (And if that’s what it came to in the end, the politically limited Spurrier was done before he even started that fight.)He’d leave the job to someone else and go do something else. That’s an unemotional way to look at it, but it’s part of a system. There are rules, and you should follow them. The defense never backs up if you don’t throw it deep. The game’s based on points, so you better be able to score more than the other team. If you make money, you pay the coach, and if you make some more, you pay the players. If someone cusses at you, well, you cuss back, provided you don’t use the f-word, ’cause that’s a rule Spurrier had, too. No f-words, but sure: drop a dammit or a hell or even a shit, if you had to in the heat of a fight.Don’t work too much. No really, don’t work too much, or at least not all year long, if you can help it. He’d grind during the season and in recruiting, sure, but he’d also show up at Daytona shirtless and drinking a banquet beer. There might be something to that: Spurrier outlasted one generation of coaches, and then outlasted most of another while happily admitting to extensive time spent on the back nine. It helps to have a singular genius for your job, sure, but with all that dark, sleepless misery, Saban still only managed a head-to-head record of 1-3 against the Head Ball Coach. There’s probably a lot of make-busy waste work done in the name of looking like you’re working hard in coaching. You might, for longevity’s sake, want to avoid it.Oh, and if there’s time on the clock, you do your best to score, because that’s the whole point of the game. If there’s no time left on the clock, well, you have a beer, go home and figure out what do next. Maybe cry a little or celebrate, if you’re the kind of person who needs to do that.
The 14 best Steve Spurrier quotes of now and then
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is one of college football’s all-time quotable figures. When a Spurrier-coached team is facing a chief rival, the Head Ball Coach almost always provides at least one quip that’s worth remembering, and his SEC Media Days press conferences are must-see events.
With all this in mind, 14 of the best Spurrier quotes from over the years:
On South Carolina’s 52-7 win over the Razorbacks: “I do feel badly for Arkansas. That’s no fun getting your butt beat at home, homecoming and all that.”
On the Gamecocks’ matchup at Tennessee “Will be the 14th time I’ve coached in Neyland Stadium. … I’ve coached there more than some of their head coaches.”
On his age: “The Pope is 77 years old and he’s in charge of a billion people. All I have to do is put 11 on the field.”
On playing the Dawgs early: “I don’t know. I sort of always liked playing them that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.”
On Georgia recruiting: “Why is it that during recruiting season they sign all the great players, but when it comes time to play the game, we have all the great players? I don’t understand that. What happens to them?”
On the Vols missing out on the Sugar Bowl during his Florida years: “You can’t spell Citrus without U-T.”
On Peyton Manning: “I know why Peyton came back for his senior year. He wanted to be a three-time star of the Citrus Bowl.”
On recruiting: “In 12 years at Florida, I don’t think we ever signed a kid from the state of Alabama … Of course, we found out later that the scholarships they were giving out at Alabama were worth a whole lot more than ours.”
On scandal in Tallahassee: “You know what FSU stands for, don’t you? Free Shoes University.”
On illegal hits against Danny Wuerffel: “He’s like a New Testament person. He gets slapped up side the face, and turns the other cheek and says, ‘Lord, forgive them for they know not what they’re doing.’ I’m probably more of an Old Testament guy. You spear our guy in the earhole, we think we’re supposed to spear you in the earhole. That’s kind of where we’re a little different.”
On a fire at the football dorm that destroyed 20 books: “But the real tragedy was that 15 hadn’t been colored yet.”
On the Death Valley nickname: “Most of our guys have never been to Death Valley. (LSU’s stadium) is the Death Valley, isn’t it? Or is there another one? There’s two of them. That’s right. There’s two Death Valleys.”
On the state of the South Carolina program (widely attributed, but probably not an original): “We aren’t LSU and we aren’t Alabama. But we sure ain’t Clemson.”
On Dabo Swinney’s anger over the above quote: “I said, ‘Well, what do you want me to do? I didn’t say it.’ Smart people don’t believe everything they read, and they don’t believe hearsay. … I guess Dabo believed it.”
When Steve Spurrier spoke, we all listened.
Steve Spurrier on playing Georgia: “I don’t know. I sort of always liked playing them that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.”
On coaching for so long …
- “People ask, ‘Why are you still coaching?’ I forgot to get fired and I’m not going to cheat.”
- “I’m smart enough to know when it’s time to let somebody else come in and do this, but I’m also smart enough to know that we’ve beaten Georgia four of the last five years, beaten Florida four of the last five years and beaten Clemson five of the last six years. We’re only 3-2 against Tennessee the last five years, and they won a couple of close ones against us, but they’ve lost 10 in a row to Florida. So I’d say we’ve done OK and have a lot more we’re going to do.”
- “Well, like I told people, I breezed right through age 60, breezed right through 65, and I’m going to try my best to breeze right on through 70. I can still remember just about everything. So mentally, I think I’m the same as I was. We got two people running for president, I think Hillary and Donald Trump are both 69, I believe. Coach K at Duke, he’s still doing pretty good at, I think 69 also. So the age really doesn’t mean a lot.”
Jabbing at Florida State …
- “You know what FSU stands for, don’t you? Free Shoes University.”
- On FSU players hitting Danny Wuerffel late: “He’s like a New Testament person. He gets slapped up side the face, and turns the other cheek and says, ‘Lord, forgive them for they know not what they’re doing.’ I’m probably more of an Old Testament guy. You spear our guy in the earhole, we think we’re supposed to spear you in the earhole. That’s kind of where we’re a little different.”
- On Jadeveon Clowney getting a speeding ticket: “I didn’t know Jadeveon’s car that could go that fast. He doesn’t have a pretty car like those FSU guys used to drive.”
Jabbing at Clemson and Dabo Swinney …
- Swinney was asked about his relationship with Spurrier and said, “He’s from Pluto, and I’m from Mars.” Spurrier responded: “Dabo probably thinks there’s only, what, nine planets out there? I think I read where Pluto may not be considered one now.”
- On winning an SEC title compared to beating Clemson: “What I’ve also learned at South Carolina, our fans realize there’s more to life than winning the SEC championship. They really do. We’re in a state with Clemson. Clemson used to pretty much own South Carolina in football, no question about it. We have a state championship trophy. If you ask our fans at South Carolina, I can assure you a majority would say, ‘We would rather beat Clemson than win the SEC.’ That is how big it is to them, that one game. Personally, I’d rather win the SEC. I don’t mind saying that. Personally, that’s the bigger trophy.”
- On LSU having the real Death Valley: “Most of our guys have never been to Death Valley. [LSU’s stadium] is the Death Valley, isn’t it? Or is there another one? There’s two of them. That’s right. There’s two Death Valleys.”
Jabbing at everyone else …
- On a fire at the Auburn library that destroyed 20 books: “The real tragedy was that 15 hadn’t been colored yet.”
- On Tennessee and Arkansas having the same record as South Carolina in 2014: “We were 7-6. Same as Tennessee, same as Arkansas. I think they’re sorta celebratin’ big seasons last year. … There are people in Knoxville and Fayetteville still doing cartwheels over going 7-6.”
- On Nick Saban: “He’s got a nice little gig going, a little bit like [John] Calipari. He tells guys, ‘Hey, three years from now, you’re going to be a first-round pick and go.’ If he wants to be the greatest coach or one of the greatest coaches in college football, to me, he has to go somewhere besides Alabama and win, because they’ve always won there at Alabama.”
Steve Spurrier’s career: By the numbers
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier announced Monday night that he is retiring, effective immediately.
We took a look back at Spurrier’s career, by the numbers:
1: Number of active college coaches who are ahead of Spurrier on the all-time wins list. Spurrier resigns with 228 wins, good for 13th on the overall list. The only coach ahead of Spurrier who is still active is Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech. Beamer has 234 wins and is tied for 10th overall.
2: Number of quarterbacks that Spurrier coached at both Florida and with theWashington Redskins
. Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel both followed Spurrier to Washington with mixed results, and another former Gator whom Spurrier coached, Rex Grossman, would soon follow to the Redskins, but not during Spurrier’s tenure.
3: Selection number in the first round of the NFL draft that the San Francisco 49ers chose Spurrier in 1967. He finished his NFL career with a 13-24-1 record, throwing for 6,878 yards across 10 seasons.
7: Times Spurrier was named Coach of the Year in his respective conference. He was honored by the ACC in 1988 and 1989 while at Duke, and in 1990, 1995, 1996, 2005 and 2010 by the SEC. The latter two were while at South Carolina.
8: Losses that Spurrier suffered to Bobby Bowden and Florida State, during his 12-year run at Florida. In fact, the Gators went just 5-8-1 vs. the Seminoles under the “Head Ball Coach,” but in winning the 1996 national championship, Spurrier and Florida crushed Florida State 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl.
11: Seasons in which Spurrier coached at South Carolina, registering three 11-win campaigns along the way. Prior to his arrival in 2005, South Carolina never won more than 10 games in a single season.
12: Total amount of wins Spurrier achieved while as a head coach in the NFL. In 2002 and 2003, he led the Washington Redskins to a 12-20 record and never finished higher than third place in the NFC East.
21: Bowl appearances made by Spurrier-coached teams. Eleven of those came at Florida, where the Gators went 6-5. One — the 1989 All-American Bowl — came at Duke.
35: Wins that Spurrier registered while as a head coach in the USFL with the Tampa Bay Bandits. Spurrier coached Tampa Bay from 1983-85, two years before heading to Duke. The Bandits made two postseason appearances during his tenure, but lost them both.
228: All-time wins as a college head coach, in stops at Duke, Florida and South Carolina.
1966: The year in which Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy, while a quarterback at Florida. He was also named a first-team All-American, the UPI Player of the Year and the SEC Player of the Year that season.
3,625: Passing yards that Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel compiled in his 1996 Heisman Trophy-winning season, while leading Spurrier’s offense.
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|Yr||School||G||W||L||T||Pct||SRS||SOS||AP Pre||AP High||AP Post||Bowl||Notes|
|2005||South Carolina||12||7||5||0||.583||5.24||3.74||19||Independence Bowl-L|
|2006||South Carolina||13||8||5||0||.615||9.67||4.75||Liberty Bowl-W|
|2008||South Carolina||13||7||6||0||.538||5.21||4.28||24||Outback Bowl-L|
|2009||South Carolina||13||7||6||0||.538||7.10||6.17||21||PapaJohns.com Bowl-L|
|2010||South Carolina||14||9||5||0||.643||12.97||6.18||10||22||Chick-fil-A Bowl-L|
|2011||South Carolina||13||11||2||0||.846||13.56||3.10||12||9||9||Capital One Bowl-W|
|2012||South Carolina||13||11||2||0||.846||15.97||4.51||9||3||8||Outback Bowl-W|
|2013||South Carolina||13||11||2||0||.846||16.06||6.29||6||4||4||Capital One Bowl-W|
|2014||South Carolina||13||7||6||0||.538||6.70||4.93||9||9||Independence Bowl-W|