South Carolina Football: Steve Spurrier's Long, Winding Road to Columbia

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
South Carolina Football: Steve Spurrier's Long, Winding Road to Columbia
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Steve Spurrier was born in Miami, Fla., on April 20, 1945. He and his family had settled near Johnson City, Tn., by the time he started high school.

It has been about 50 years since the three sport star high school athlete finished his career at Science Hill High School in Johnson City. But, he's still going to school just about every day. Instead of studying, Spurrier is teaching at the University of South Carolina. 

Still coaching and teaching the game of football.

His current group of eager student-athletes play for the University of South Carolina. The Gamecocks are Steve Spurrier's latest football resurrection project. 

Coach Spurrier has overseen several college football resurrections during his career. He is good at it—one of the few great football players that have been able to transition to the coaching ranks smoothly.

Many times great players fail to make good coaches. Most agree, it has to do with their inability to coach others to do what came easy to them.

Their own abilities as players often become a deterrent to their success as a coach. Thus, the coaching job is often too frustrating for the great athlete.

Before becoming a football coach, Spurrier was a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback for the University of Florida. He played for the Gators from 1964 through 1966. During his senior season, he won the Heisman Trophy. He was also voted first team All American in '65 and '66.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Duke 1988

The San Francisco 49ers then drafted Spurrier as the third pick in the first round of the 1967 draft. Most of his nine years with the 49ers was spent as the back up to their starter, John Brodie. He was traded in 1976 and played his last pro season for the expansion Tampa Bay Bucs.   

After Steve Spurrier retired from his 10 year NFL playing career, he accepted the quarterbacks coaching position for the University of Florida in 1978. In 1979, he coached quarterbacks for Pepper Rogers at Georgia Tech. Then he moved to Duke University as an assistant from 1980 to 1982.

In 1983, he signed his first head coaching deal with the newly formed USFL Tampa Bay Bandits. Three years later, the league folded. But Spurrier, who had a 35-21 coaching record, was recognized as an up and coming head coach by that time.

In 1987 he accepted his first college head coaching position—as well as his first resurrection job—with Duke University. By 1988, he had led the perennial losers to their first bowl game in 28 years.

In 1989, Duke tied for first place in the ACC for the first time since 1962. Spurrier was named ACC coach of the year in 1988 and 1989.

In 1989, Spurrier's alma mater called and he accepted the head coaching position at Florida. The school was suffering through their second NCAA probation in five years when he was hired.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In 57 years of SEC play, the school had never won a recognized league championship. During his 12 years as their coach, Florida won six SEC championships, one national championship (1996) and played for a second (1995).

The University of Florida became Spurrier's most famous football resurrection project.

While with the Gators, Coach Spurrier was named SEC coach of the year five times (1990, '91, '94, '95 and '96). Both he and his Florida teams received numerous other awards as well.

On January 4, 2002, Spurrier suddenly announced his resignation at Florida. Stating, "I simply believe that twelve years as head coach at a major university in the SEC is long enough."

About two weeks later, he signed a five year deal to be the head coach of the Washington Redskins. However, after two seasons he resigned. It was rumored at the time that he and the team owner were not seeing eye to eye on how Spurrier ran the team.

In 2004, after much speculation, it was announced that Steve Spurrier signed a deal to coach the South Carolina Gamecocks. Since his arrival in Columbia, the Gamecocks have not registered a losing season.

The 2010 season was when it seemed that the Spurrier system had completely taken hold in Columbia. That season, the Gamecocks won the Eastern Division of the SEC and played in their first championship game.

Do you think South Carolina will win a SEC Championship before Steve Spurrier retires?

Submit Vote vote to see results

In 2011, South Carolina celebrated their best winning season ever, as they had an 11-2 record.

Coach Spurrier is 67 years old but says he has no plans on retiring in the near future. He mentioned at one point that he may consider retirement at around 70.

For those of us who have followed his amazing career, it is obvious that the old ball coach has unfinished business at Carolina. He wants to win a championship with the Gamecocks before he retires from coaching.

Don't worry South Carolina fans. Just from observing the competitive nature of the man, I would guess that immediately after his Gamecock team wins a championship, he'll want another.  

Load More Stories

Follow South Carolina Football from B/R on Facebook

Follow South Carolina Football from B/R on Facebook and get the latest updates straight to your newsfeed!

South Carolina Football

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.