The ol’ ball coach, 61, recently said, in all seriousness, he might coach 10 more years.
Who is this, JoePa?
“I guess I felt pretty good that day,” Spurrier said.
Spurrier has been feeling pretty good a lot of days lately. In his first season since getting beaten down by the NFL, the Gamecocks finished 7-5. Spurrier beat his alma mater, Florida, where he was revered as a player and coach. He reached a bowl game.
South Carolina probably won’t win any championships this season. But can the Gamecocks be dismissed? Hardly. They have Spurrier. And he’s having fun.
Plenty of fun. Especially this week.
Spurrier’s Gamecocks opened the season on Thursday night with a nationally-televised 15-0 victory at Mississippi State. The scheduling quirk gives him the opportunity to appear in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday night, when Florida’s Spurrier-coached 1996 national-championship team will be honored prior to the Florida-Southern Mississippi game.
Spurrier back in The Swamp, where a likeness of his No. 11 jersey still adorns an end-zone wall? It’s almost sensory overload. Two months later, Spurrier will return to Gainesville — as the opponent.
“It is really strange to see him coaching in college and not see him wearing orange and blue,” said Danny Wuerffel, Florida’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in 1996. “I expect him to be treated warmly. If people can’t give coach Spurrier the reception he deserves [on Saturday night], that’s really a shame.”
When Ron Zook was fired in mid-2004, Spurrier was available. Would he have reclaimed his Gator perch? Who knows? But he did want to be asked. When Gator administrators first announced the methodical coaching search, which ended with Urban Meyer, Spurrier pulled his name from consideration.
And shortly thereafter, he was hired at South Carolina, an SEC East rival.
“I think the reception will OK,” Spurrier said. “We’re just going to fly in and out that day, probably leave after the first quarter of the game, something like that.”
Spurrier’s aura won’t leave Gainesville any time soon. Meyer has done his best to downplay any comparisons. He has continually paid his Spurrier homage, saying he became a big Gators admirer during the offensive flurry of the mid-1990s, when Florida’s offense resembled a video game.
Spurrier? He’s above the fray.
His 122-27-1 Florida record and six SEC championships speak for themselves. At South Carolina, he’s practically working with a blank canvas.
“Our goal is to win the SEC someday, and it will be the first one at South Carolina [the Gamecocks won the ACC in 1969 for the program’s only conference championship],” Spurrier said. “Trying to make South Carolina a winner is a challenge. Lee Corso said you can’t win at South Carolina. We’re trying to prove people wrong.
“Our trophy case has got an Outback Bowl championship in it. That’s the biggest one. The potential is there. For some reason, it just has never been done at South Carolina. That’s what makes it a really fun job. There’s nowhere to go but up.”
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