For most of my life, including all of the adult part of it, I’ve had some pretty hard feelings toward the head ball coach. My dad hated him as the coach at Duke in the late ’80s and then everyone knows about his cocky and brash attitude and teams while at Florida in the 90s. He also took my favorite NFL team, the Redskins, more or less into the ground. But now that I’ve been here in Columbia for a year and gone through my second pre-season of USC football, I’ve gained a new appreciation for Spurrier.
A lot of people still see him as the arsehole that was at Florida years ago. But he seems to have changed. His teams at Carolina have obviously not been to par with the powerhouse UF squads he consistently put together. As a result, he hasn’t exactly been a superstar in the coaching world. His disaster with the Redskins didn’t help either. But I think that experience gave him a new perspective on the world of football. Instead of being the star and the guy running the show, he was merely the leader of an underachieving NFL franchise with a really strong backing. When the ‘Skins don’t do well (as has been their custom for most of the past fifteen years) the fans let the coach know.
Since coming here to Carolina he’s actually been a pretty refreshing guy. He’s brutally honest with the press, which I guess he was at UF as well but because the team was so good it always came across as arrogant (which it was). But in Columbia, without amazing teams, he’s shown great candor. He doesn’t bullshit about his team or opponent like Lou Holtz was famous for doing. He’s not afraid to point out kids that aren’t playing up to expectations and he’ll praise those who are. His straightforward approach to press conferences is great when compared to the usual coachspeak that comes out of the overwhelming majority of his profession.
Basically, he seems like he’s become a realist. He knows Carolina isn’t going to be able to compete with Georgia, Tennessee and Florida every year, but he knows he might be able to knock one or some of them off given the right circumstances. And that’s the attitude that’s needed here in Columbia. Folks here don’t care about a national champion necessarily, they just want to be competitive and beat Clemson. But if that’s not going to happen, they’d rather have low expectations and not feel let down.
I don’t know if I’m 100% sold on Spurrier as a good guy or anything like that, but he seems to be doing the right things here in Columbia.