Steve Spurrier dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Thursday to discuss his new book, “Head Ball Coach: My Life in Football, Doing it Differently – and Winning,” as well as his career and retirement.
Spurrier, one of the best coaches in college football history, won a national championship at Florida in 1996. He coached the Gators from 1990 to 2001 before a two-year stint with the Washington Redskins and then spent a decade at South Carolina. Now 71, he is an ambassador and consultant for the Gators athletic department.
“Obviously I probably should have stayed here another five years or more,” Spurrier said on The Doug Gottlieb Show, referring to his time in Gainesville. “But back then, it seems like coaches did not coach much into their 60s, and I was 57, 58. So I thought maybe I’d go try coaching in the NFL for five or six years and hang it up and go to Crescent Beach, Florida, and maybe hang around the Gators or whatever. But two years with the Washington Redskins obviously didn’t work out. It wasn’t exactly what I thought. But by leaving there, it gave me a chance to go to the University of South Carolina, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. It didn’t end very well, but we own just about every record associated with winning there. So it was a good run and I wish them the best. But anyway, I’m a University of Florida guy again and (doing) whatever I can do to help our school here.”
The Gators went 12-1 in 1996, with their only loss coming at Florida State, 24-21. A little over a month later, Florida dismantled the Seminoles, 52-20, in a rematch for the national championship.
“It was a rewarding game,” Spurrier said. “FSU, back 20 years ago, they played a little bit on the dirty side. They tried to knock quarterbacks out of the game. In fact, they bragged about knocking six or seven ACC quarterbacks out that year, but they couldn’t knock Danny Wuerffel out. He got the best of them certainly in the championship game. At that time, that was probably the biggest win in Gator history. Urban Meyer came in and won a couple championships in ’06 and ’08, but that was certainly a big one for all of us.
“We got our 1996 national championship team, they’re coming back this week, a lot of them,” Spurrier continued. “Just rehashing championships with teams from the past, it’s really neat. To see your players married, good jobs, family guys – that’s a neat part of coaching certainly.”
If Spurrier isn’t the best coach in Florida history, he’s definitely the best coach in South Carolina history. The Gamecocks went 33-6 from 2011-13, including 3-0 in bowl games. Spurrier retired six games into last season following a 2-4 start.
He was asked if he had any regrets.
“Well, I said in my book that I probably should have stayed here at Florida a few more years,” Spurrier said. “We were third in the nation when I left. We really had a good team in 2001, but we played two close games and lost both of them. It just happened. Got beat 34-32 by Tennessee and did no go to the championship game. But other than that, I went to the Redskins. I thought I wanted to coach in the NFL five or six years and hang it up and go from there. . . . But that’s okay. Maybe I’m not cut out for pro football anyway. So after two years there, it was time to get out and the South Carolina job opened up. It was a lot of fun for 10 years there. Obviously we went downhill at the end. I probably should have left the year before, but that was my mistake. As soon as I knew that I was finished, I thought it best to get out and let them start rebuilding down there.”