Buddy Martin April 18, 2015
a little birthday gift for you Spurrier fans: The guy you think is
arrogant, feisty, controversial and difficult is, in private, quite
humble, gracious and appreciative of those who helped him get where
he is now.
Spurrier is pretty much like he was at 60 and a lot like he was at
50. Older, wiser and just as motivated to win.
We almost lost
him last year. When South Carolina was beaten by Tennessee, the
Gamecocks’ fourth defeat in five weeks, the confident, cocky one
began to have doubts and considered retiring.
Then he heard a
Taylor Swift song, “Shake It Off,” and it inspired him to do just
that. He announced that revelation to his staff and players. The
Gamecocks won three of their last four, beating Miami in Shreveport
and winding up with a 7-6 record, a winning season for the 10th time
in Spurrier’s 10 years.
After what he called “a pretty
good year, but not a great year” last season, The Head Ball Coach
now comes out swinging on his 70th birthday which falls on
In fact, he chastised the SEC Network’s Paul
Finebaum for having a guest on who called it a “terrible year”
for Spurrier. “Down here we don’t call that a terrible year,”
said Spurrier. “A few years ago they went 0-11. That’s a TERRIBLE
Happy Birthday to South Carolina’s Head Ball Coach,
a national treasure to coaching and college football.
never mind the jokes about him being born on the same day as Hitler,
Napoleon and rapper Killer Mike.
I loved that he allowed
somebody to film him shirtless, working out, headband strapped on,
sweating, grinding and staying true to his six-times-a-week workout
“It’s not about age,” Spurrier insists. “It’s
about your health.”
And your record.
He is proudest
of the fact that he is the only guy in America who coached at least a
decade at two schools and became the winningest coach at both
FYI, Spurrier’s 25-year college record is 226-85-2
for .725 percent. The secret to his success? “Keep on playing and
something good will happen,” is his favorite halftime
Here’s a little birthday gift for you Spurrier fans:
The guy you think is arrogant, feisty, controversial and difficult
is, in private, quite humble, gracious and appreciative of those who
helped him get where he is now.
In fact, Spurrier was more
like The Accidental Head Ball Coach who showed up at Florida Field in
1978 after getting traded, cut and rejected by four different NFL
teams, not really knowing for sure what he would do with his life.
After seeing Doug Dickey’s team play in the stadium he would later
name “The Swamp,” Spurrier wondered if he could be a coach.
Tampa lawyer friend interceded by calling Dickey, Steve was hired and
became an assistant with on-the-job training at Florida first,
Georgia Tech second and, finally, at Duke, where he earned his wings
as a play caller and play-calling prodigy.
So often in
conversation, Spurrier goes back to his roots at Duke where as
quarterback coach he was allowed to flex his cerebral muscle and test
drive the early model of the Fun ‘N Gun which he would deploy in
Gainesville to help win Florida’s first national
“Duke gave me a chance when nobody else
would,” he said. And from there he was launched to stardom,
becoming The Head Ball Coach of the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits. And
after the USFL folded, he went back to Durham as the Blue Devils'
Head Ball Coach. But it was during his time under a man named Red
Wilson that he formulated his offense and learned guidelines for
being a coach.
“One of my favorite quotes was given to me by
Red, who did not write it but often quoted it,” said Spurrier. “Red
also handed me a sheet of guidelines for football coaches, as well as
a list of Winners and Losers. One of my favorites was:
Winner says ‘There ought to be a better way to do it.’
Loser says, ‘That’s the way it’s always been done
Although Paul Anka wrote the song for Frank
Sinatra, “I Did It My Way” it could also be Spurrier’s.
won six SEC titles at Florida and completely changed offenses in the
league. He wore a visor, not a cap, and now about a third of all
coaches wear them. He fired off some juicy quotes, didn’t rely on
CoachSpeak and maybe has provided more entertainment value than any
coach in college football.
So how else did you expect him to
approach his 70th birthday?
Why, working out with 41-year-old
Josh Kendall of The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., which is what
he did Tuesday. And smoked him.
Kendall wrote in the
“At least they changed the music. That’s about the
only thing that went right for me. Not that they changed it for me.
Just a lucky break, and the only one I would get for the next
“The music in South Carolina’s weight room changes
every time Steve Spurrier walks in to work out – from whatever it
is college kids listen to, to a station playing country music. When
Spurrier and I walked in Tuesday morning, the play list was heavy
with Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, etc. The music of my
youth, in other words.
“Backing up a moment… Spurrier will
turn 70 on Monday …
“I consider myself in average shape
for a 41-year-old man but only because the competition is not stout
in a country where 70 percent of adults over the age of 20 are
overweight and 35 percent are obese, according to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
“I kept pace with Spurrier
for a while but eventually he outlasted me in a series of low-weight,
“It makes me feel only slightly
better that Spurrier figures he’s in better shape now than he was
when he won the Heisman Trophy in 1966,” said Kendall.
say that sends a very powerful message to those who might be
entertaining the idea that Spurrier is going to fade away anytime
How long will The Head Ball Coach actually coach?
Spurrier says he’ll go another “four or five years” and if he
sticks to that he’ll still come in under two of the grand ol’ men
of coaching. And without being fired – something that has always
been a badge of honor for Spurrier. Although he did walk away from
the richest contract in football history when he left the Redskins
with three years left on a $25 million contract.
coached until just a few weeks before his 80th birthday, when
president T.K. Wetherell had to fire him. Joe Paterno was canned at
age 84 by Penn State.
For years Spurrier has carried with him
some principles of success which his wife Jerri found a long time ago
in Success Magazine written by Dr. Charles Garfield, who studied
human behavior for 16 years and talks about characteristics and
traits of peak performers – highly successful people.
most interesting thing he said was,” said Spurrier, “is
almost anyone can acquire these traits.”
So he wrote them
down, tried to acquire them and teach his assistant coaches the
2. No excuses.
3. Be responsible for
8. Creative risks.
9. New ideas.
back from adversity. Persistence. Never, ever give up.
you’ve followed Steve Spurrier since he started coaching in 1978,
you know he has stayed true to those principles. I especially like 8,
9 and 10. And I expect them to surface this season when Steve starts
his 11th at South Carolina, a distant second to Paul “Bear”
Bryant in SEC wins. But never to be counted out.