Scott Fowler

What Steve Spurrier misses about coaching - and what he doesn’t miss

Steve Spurrier talked about the highlights of his South Carolina coaching career while speaking to a Charlotte Touchdown Club audience on Friday.
Steve Spurrier talked about the highlights of his South Carolina coaching career while speaking to a Charlotte Touchdown Club audience on Friday.

Steve Spurrier is 71 now and out of coaching, but he is certainly not out of things to say.

Here is a snapshot of the former Head Ball Coach's current life. On Friday afternoon, Spurrier spoke to Charlotte's Touchdown Club. Then, in his new role as ambassador/consultant for the University of Florida, he was scheduled to fly to Arkansas to hobnob with some Gator boosters and "hang out with the team some," as he said.

Spurrier then planned to attend the Florida-Arkansas game in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday. And on Monday, he has another speaking engagement back in Florida – although one that's not as high-profile.

"We have a livestock survey team at University of Florida," Spurrier said. "I did not know of it until the other day. The coach of the livestock survey team has asked me to talk to them. That's part of my duties. So I'm talking to them Monday."

The winningest coach ever at both Florida and the University of South Carolina as well as an ACC champion at Duke, Spurrier was a visor-slinging, Fun 'n' Gun scoring phenomenon as a coach for decades. But he resigned abruptly about a year ago, in the middle of the season, just after the Gamecocks fell to 2-4 and 0-4 in the SEC. He said at the time he was basically firing himself.

While Spurrier certainly doesn't miss the recruiting part of college football, he does miss what it feels like when you're down by three but driving in the fourth quarter and it's time to come up with the right "ball play," as Spurrier always liked to call them.

"I certainly miss that part – the play-calling, working with those guys and so forth," Spurrier said in an interview before his speech in Charlotte. "But we all have an expiration date."

Spurrier said he still has a house in Columbia but also maintains one in Florida and has become a Florida resident. He said he still cheers for the Gamecocks to win every game except whenever they play Florida, and added that he does not care to remember much about his last couple of USC teams.

"I don't miss my last couple of years, when our team sort of went downhill," Spurrier said. "It was time, obviously, for me to leave. Our defense – I tried to help it and I didn't help it very much. The last two years were the worst two in South Carolina history. So rebuilding needed to take place. It was time for me to get out of the way. Will Muschamp was an excellent hire and his guys are doing a super job. They're on their way to building a very good program there."

When I asked Spurrier what he thought his greatest accomplishment at South Carolina had been, he said: "I think all those bowl victories ended up being some of our biggest wins. If we don't win the bowl games, we don't win 11, and we don't finish in the Top 10 any of those years [USC had three straight 11-win seasons from 2011-13 under Spurrier]. And then winning 18 straight at home was pretty neat, because the fans had a huge part in that. ... And beating Clemson five times in a row."

Spurrier also said he thought Alabama would most likely win another national championship in a couple of months, that he preferred the college football playoff "eventually" expand to eight teams and that he wished college football's "targeting" rule would become less ambiguous on plays in which a receiver makes a catch and then dips his head into a tackler.

As usual on Friday, Spurrier had a lot of opinions, as well as somewhere else he soon had to be.

The visor is gone, but Spurrier looks youthful for 71, and he can still charm a crowd. He made some missteps at South Carolina, yes, and he should have pulled the plug a couple of years earlier. But he seems happy now, and not upset at all that he no longer has to try to convince 17-year-olds to come play for him.

"The way these guys [coaches] work now, they recruit until midnight 3-4 nights a week," Spurrier said. "They spend a lot of time on it. I had my run. I'm appreciative. I know I was blessed far beyond my wildest expectations when I got into coaching. So I need to count my blessings – and sit back and watch awhile."

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