At 67 years old, Steve Spurrier is still very much a factor in SEC football. He still runs his mouth a bit too much, unless he has a really good team; and the 2012 version of his South Carolina Gamecocks is very, very good. That's probably why we haven't heard a lot of zingers in the first six weeks of the season. In 1996, when Coach Spurrier was coaching at Florida, I had a chance to interview him a couple of times. The first time was at the SEC Media Days in July, and I asked him, "Just how good are the Gators?"
He replied, "We're going to be really good. This may be the best group I've had down here." No arrogant comment, no disparaging remark about Tennessee, no coach's "poor mouth", just a really honest answer. In case you don't remember, his 1996 Florida Gators, led by Heisman Trophy winner Danny Weurfel, won the National Championship.
The 2012 season hasn't been completely free from Spurrier zingers. In the pre-season, he said he would rather play Georgia early in the year rather than the middle as, "Coach Richt always had a bunch of players suspended early in the season, so it might be a little easier for us." It didn't matter at all for the Gamecocks. Facing Georgia in game five rather than much earlier, South Carolina absolutely destroyed the Bulldogs, 35-7. And, yes, Dakari Rambo and the other Georgia players who had been suspended were all present and accounted for.
Steve Spurrier hasn't really changed much at all since he was zinging Coach Phillip Fulmer and the Vols at every opportunity. He may have mellowed a bit; he doesn't throw his visor much any more at South Carolina. He says it's too difficult to get it off his head now due to the large headset he wears on the sidelines. But.....the man can still coach. When you read lists of the best coaches in the country in football magazines, Saban, Meyer, and even Lane Kiffen are mentioned, but you never see Spurrier mentioned anymore. The job he has done at South Carolina in the six years he's been there, is a thing of beauty. The Gamecocks are now ranked third in the college football polls, and how long they stay in the National Championship hunt depends on how they do in their next two games. They play at LSU this week and at fourth ranked Florida next week. Two wins in those games makes them a legitimate national contender.
When he was winning big at Florida, he did it with the "Fun and Gun" offense. He would throw it all over the field, sometimes 50 times a game. When he came to South Carolina, he quipped he was going to run the, "Cock and Fire". He has won with the Gamecocks with great defensive teams, and more of a ball control offense. Gamecock fans don't care how he wins, they just want him to win. He now has 201 career wins as a college coach in 22 years being the head man. Just think how many more wins he would have had, if he had not played a few years in the NFL and had not left Florida for the Washington Redskins in 2002. He would very likely be in the vicinity of Bobby Bowden's career record when he finally hangs it up.
I'm glad Steve Spurrier is still very much a factor in SEC football. He's a former SEC player, from Johnson City, Tennessee, and he knows the league through and through. No matter how many wins he ends up with in his career, he will be one of the all-time greats among college coaches.
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).