How Great of a College Football Legend is Steve Spurrier?

By M. Shannon Smallwood
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports


So it might be the dumbest question you’ve ever heard…

But on the other hand, maybe it’s not…

There is a lot to love (and hate) about the Old Ball Coach roaming the sidelines for the South Carolina Gamecocks. That is a fact! But despite his efforts of his career both on the field and off, the question has to be asked what is Steve Spurrier‘s real legacy?

Just the mention of the name Spurrier and one gets the image of the smirk in the visor. Others get the vision of the rage as the visor goes sailing across the field. But there is a lot more to the Ball Coach than his 208 wins, 77 losses, Heisman Trophy and National Title.

A lot more…

Off the field, Spurrier is the guy that dropped everything he was doing to get Lou Holtz‘s wife Beth Holtz into Shands Hospital to help in her cancer treatment. The Holtz family had tried, but were denied until Spurrier found out and made a few phone calls.

(and you folks think nothing good can come from all this power in college football)

And that’s just one of the stories of the man known as Spurrier…

But what exactly is his legend on the green grass and between the 20s? Has he done enough to place himself in the royalty that is legends of Knute Rockne, Woody Hayes or John Heisman?

(and no Alabama Crimson Tide fans, this is not the time or place to discuss your boy Nick Saban)

Let’s just say this about Steve…

Any coach who can go into Durham, North Carolina and turn the Duke Blue Devils into powers while winning an ACC Football title and a pair of Coach of the Year honors in three seasons and then jump over to the SEC and do the same for the then struggling Florida Gators is a someone beyond special.

And take all that along with what Spurrier has been able to accomplish in Columbia, South Carolina and it is just simply gold on top of the bronze statue that awaits him when he decides to don the visor for the last time.

Until Spurrier, the Gamecocks simply never could find an identity. Yes, there were some good teams with Joe Morrison. In fact, the heart attack that took Morrison from the game far too quickly kept South Carolina from taking that next step sooner. Holtz was a great change of pace from the Sparky Woods of the College Coaching Fraternity and helped begin the program’s rise to where it is today.

But don’t let yourselves be fooled…

South Carolina would be nowhere without Spurrier…

The guy is a lethal card shark when it comes to football. Not only does he play on your bluff, he does so with a pair of threes and gets you to fold on the flop when you’re holding a full house. At other times, he just seems to know everything his opponent is trying to do like he is in the huddle. And that’s usually when the smirk comes into play.

No one in the game plays out the events in their head like Spurrier does. No one. There is no doubt he is putting his plan of action into place right now as the Gamecocks are running through Spring Practice. The plan without flaw right down to the time and games Connor Shaw plays and the moments where Dylan Thompson needs to lead the team.

Take the big rival game from 2012 between the up and coming Clemson Tigers at home against their nemesis in Spurrier. Yes Shaw was banged up, but he was ready to play and Clemson was ready to take down the Gamecocks with Shaw leading them. So Spurrier inserted Thompson as his secret weapon in that game. And it worked to perfection.

And that’s just one example. Let’s not even go to the fact he mentally owns other future legends like Peyton Manning and Mark Richt.

So as you prepare for the 2013 College Football season, don’t overlook the Gamecocks.

Spurrier knows there will not be too many more chances to add to his legend and this is a team than can do it.


M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.

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