College Football Fans, Do You Remember A Coach Named Steve Spurrier?
Had he not stepped on the toes of the end of the Joe Namath era at Alabama, he could be considered the greatest quarterback in the history of the SEC.
There have been many great ones, Y.A. Title, Charlie Connerly, Ken Stabler, Jimmy Sidle, Fran Tarkenton, John Rauch, Bert Jones, Archie Manning, Babe Parilli, Pat Sullivan, Bill Wade, and we're only getting started. The past 20 years have given us many unique talents as well.
But none of them compare to Spurrier as a college coach. Former Georgia quarterback John Rauch stands out as a great pro football coach but, Steverino is the King Bee of the university circuit.
Supremely secure in his mastery over opponents, the 1990-96 vintage Spurrier was consumed with dominating the SEC. Along the way he demonstrated a healthy disregard for the Georgia Bulldogs. Where did these feelings originate?
Speculation goes back to 1964 when Spurrier was in his first season as a starter at QB for the Gators and had led them to a 5-1 start. Then along came the Bulldogs and Florida fell. Two years later, the Bulldogs spoiled Spurrier's unbeaten season on his way to the Heisman Trophy.
For whatever the reason, the man once known as "Super-Gator" made it a high priority to defeat Georgia. And beat them he did. He liked to sprinkle his victories with post-game interviews which tweaked the nose of every Bulldog fan.
Following a 45-13 blowout win in 1991, Spurrier said, "why is it that during recruiting they get all the great players but when it's game-time we have all the great players? What happens to them?"
In 1995, Florida journeyed to Athens for a rare game between the hedges. When the smoke cleared the Bulldogs had been crushed 52-17. Spurrier remarked "we knew no one had ever scored 50 on them here so we wanted to give them something to remember us by."
But then came the turn of the century, the madness of the Redskin days, and the return to the college scene in Columbia, S.C. Three years on the Gamecock sideline have brought humility to the once great one.
No longer does Spurrier pop off at the media about his next march of conquest and the victims he shall leave along the way. The swagger is gone replaced by politeness toward his former arch-enemy.
Asked this week whether he still disliked the Georgia program the coach replied, "no, not really, we need to get better, and contend for the SEC East Title before we start saying who is our biggest opponent."
He added, "Right now we'd just like to figure out how to beat Vanderbilt."
Who is this man? This is not who Carolina hired to take them to the promised land.
Apparently three years at Carolina is enough to bring anyone down to earth. Just ask Lou Holtz.
For whatever reason, the legendary destroyer is gone. Replaced by some humble man who is just trying to get by with players that don't understand what it takes to win. That's not really their fault, success breeds success and the Gamecocks just haven't had enough of it over the years to know it when they see it.
As sad as it may be, the old ball coach is gone, immersed in the quicksand known as Gamecock football. Fans can take solace in the fact that they once saw him, at his snarling best, arrogant and powerful, the most feared coach in America.
Stevie, it was good to know you.
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