The Florida-Era Steve Spurrier is Officially Gone

The Florida-era Steve Spurrier is completely gone.

I don’t say that lightly, especially because of how big a part of my childhood he was. My first time at the Swamp was the ’89 Florida-Kentucky game when I was four. I’ve been to at least one game there every year since.

On fall Sundays while I was growing up, my family had a custom of eating lunch while watching the Steve Spurrier Show with lunch after church. It was jarring to go from that to Ron Zook’s show, and it never did quite feel right.

I inherited a lot of my attitudes about football from that Steve Spurrier: it’s okay to throw for the endzone late in a blowout if it’s the backup doing it, there’s a certain elegance about getting receivers wide open over and over, he who’s on top gets to talk, etc.

When I saw that he is going to implement a Wildcat formation, I realized that the Spurrier I once knew is gone. I should have known this moment was coming given the state of the South Carolina offense the past couple years, but I figured it was what would happen if he got stuck with only quarterbacks at Noah Brindise-level and below.

I simply cannot fathom the Florida-era Spurrier ever deciding to run many plays without a quarterback on the field. He was a quarterback, loved to teach quarterbacks, and acted like a quarterback from the sideline as he still could read defenses better than most collegiate signal callers. That Spurrier would never have considered the Wildcat because he could get just as many yards on a fade route.

What started in Washington has completed in South Carolina. I am with those who think he thought he could walk into Columbia and win almost as quickly as he did at Florida. It worked before, why can’t it work now?

For one thing, the situations are completely different. Bear Bryant famously called Florida a sleeping giant of a program. Charley Pell and Galen Hall built it up to the point where it could take off, and they brought on the same probation that other big time programs had in the ‘80s while doing it. The cupboards were stocked, and Spurrier was the right guy in the right place at the right time for UF.

The talent level at South Carolina in 2005 was not comparable to that of Florida in 1990. It was comparable to that of Florida in 2005 though, and the Gamecocks’ win that year (in a game that Spurrier outcoached Urban Meyer, no less) showed it.

Three seasons later, the gap between Spurrier’s old program and his current one seems like it could scarcely be wider. Florida has added two more SEC and national titles, and it handed him his worst defeat ever last season to the tune of 56-6. Whatever he’s doing has caused him to fall behind the conference leaders, the opposite direction he wants to go.

Now to help catch up, Spurrier, a guy with six SEC titles, is essentially taking a page out of the playbook of Houston Nutt, a guy with no SEC titles. I can tell you that I would never have expected to see that happen when he took the job four years ago.

I have no doubt that his competitive fire is still burning; I doubt anything will ever extinguish that. The witticisms will still come, as they have periodically through his time in Columbia.

The trend-setting Spurrier though is gone, replaced by a more pragmatic and, yes, trend-following Spurrier. It’s time for all of us to stop expecting to see anything different.

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5 Responses to The Florida-Era Steve Spurrier is Officially Gone

  1. O-town Gator says:

    Very good points, Dave. If SOS still had that same competitibve fire left from his days in Gainesville, Florida and South Carolina would be neck-and-neck in battling for SEC East supremacy.

    As I see things, he’s lost some of the edge he had since he left UF, and hasn’t been the same since. He can’t seem to solve his QB dilemma, and he doesn’t have the same ingenuity as Urban Meyer has right now as far as gametime strategy goes.

    Sadly, SOS’s best days are behind him now.

    I must agree to disagree. If SOS still had that same competitive fire left from his days in Gainesville, Florida and South Carolina would be neck-and-neck in battling for SEC East supremacy.

    As I see things, he’s lost some of the edge he had since he left UF, and hasn’t been the same since. He can’t seem to solve his QB dilemma, and he doesn’t have the same ingenuity as Urban Meyer has right now as far as gametime strategy goes.

    Sadly, SOS’s best days are behind him now.

  2. cocknfire says:

    I agree with Dave on the competitive fire. I would argue that if Spurrier’s competitive fire was gone, he would be too. That’s what happened at Washington; he stopped caring and walked away.

    Spurrier has flashed some anger the last two seasons when things went wrong — you don’t do that if you don’t care. He wants to win at South Carolina. The question is whether he can.

  3. year2 says:

    I just wonder if the recruiting efforts dropped off not just because South Carolina isn’t as desirable a destination as Florida is right now but also that he doesn’t have a passion for the place like he did for UF. I mean he still uses “we” when talking about the Gators occasionally, and he told Meyer to “go win four more” after his loss to UF last season.

    He’s still a Gator at heart, and he’ll never be a Gamecock in that way. That has to come through with recruits on some level.

  4. 76Gator says:

    You say the Spurrier era is over, and I’m thinking it really ended when he left Florida for the NFL. He was never able to catch fire in the pro league and, in fact, was little better than mediocre. The college game fits him better, but even at South Carolina, he hasn’t captured lightning like he had at Florida. Even had he stayed at Florida, I’m thinking the program wouldn’t have maintained the excellence he established (look at the school and coach to the west).

    As for him toying with the Wildcat formation, I think it’s a practical move, and one I expect he’ll tinker with and add a few wrinkles to (can you say, “Pass?”)

  5. […] food for thought.  What is a spread offense? Do we need to reevaluate Dan Mullen?  Is the Florida-era Steve Spurrier […]

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