Spurrier will be missed in college football

Published 10:30 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Steve Spurrier, one of college football’s all-time greatest coaches, announced his decision to retire Tuesday morning. Spurrier, 70, talked with a renewed energy this offseason and told reporters this summer that he was planning to coach another five or six years.

Instead, Spurrier only lasted through six games of his 26th season as a head coach in the collegiate ranks.

This isn’t the way anybody expected or wanted it to end, but somehow, someway there will be college football without Steve Spurrier. It doesn’t seem possible though.

Email newsletter signup

Whether it was his antics on the sideline or his hilarious pokes at rivals during his press conferences, Spurrier was always known for his wit and colorful personality.

What Spurrier accomplished at South Carolina was remarkable, leading the Gamecocks to three consecutive 11-2 seasons and a SEC East championship during his tenure. He rightfully became a legend in Columbia and whoever permanently steps into his role has impossible shoes to fill.

But, Spurrier’s real legacy resides in Gainesville, Florida, where he led the Gators on one of the most historic runs in the history of SEC football.

He only won one national championship, which came over rival Florida State in 1996, but his numbers speak for themselves. Spurrier was the SEC’s Nick Saban of the 1990s, a decade before Saban became a household name.

Spurrier never had a season with less than nine wins at Florida and that was back when college football teams only played 11 regular season games. He compiled a 122-27-1 record with the Gators and went a dumbfounding 87-12 in SEC play. Saban’s tenure at Alabama has been incredible, but even he’s only went 52-12 in SEC games during his time in Tuscaloosa.

Urban Meyer, who won two national championships at Florida, went 36-12 in SEC play in Gainesville.

Of course, it’s doubtful Meyer would’ve even taken the Florida job if Spurrier hadn’t first turned Florida into Florida. The Gators had never won 10 games in a single season before Spurrier took over. He did that in his second season and then proceeded to do it another eight times. He won six SEC championships in nine seasons. Saban has won three in eight years at Alabama.

Spurrier threw visors on the sideline when things weren’t going well and fired jokes at his opponents when they were. “You can’t spell Citrus with UT” and “Free Shoes University” — two of Spurrier’s funniest zingers — made him a media darling. His coaching made him a legend.

It was Spurrier who famously coined Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as The Swamp, where it still stands as one of the nation’s most intimidating venues for opposing teams.

It’s impossible to know what Spurrier will do next. Hopefully, he will stick around the game and stay in the spotlight.

Whatever he chooses, the college football universe won’t ever be the same. There will never be another ‘Ole Ball Coach.