At 10 years old, continuing my way down the road of sports obsession, watching football was all about the players. It was all about who won. Who lost. Why it happened. What players made those things happen…or not happen. I knew many teams had men who were in charge of happened with their teams, regardless of sport, but not one of those men dressed in a suit, uniform or a pullover jacket had ever garnered more than a passing interest.
That was the case until the 1992 SEC Championship Game, and a man named Steve Spurrier changed everything.
It was a game that his Florida Gators, playing in the first-ever SEC Championship Game, lost to Alabama by a touchdown. But there was something about the man with the blue and white jacket and white, pinstriped baseball cap and football gloves on that struck me as different than most other coaches. (His attire was definitely in contrast to his counterpart, Gene Stallings, who had a three-piece suit on).
He talked with the quarterbacks. Constantly. He gave off the aura of someone that was a football genius, before I grew to knew that he actually was a football genius. He was demonstrative, which I had seen with coaches, but nothing like his type of exasperation and demure pleasure. Florida’s offense, so potent and exciting at its peak, was nicknamed the “Fun-n-Gun.” How awesome was that?
I needed to know who he was. He was someone I could root for.
Two years later, he was someone that I absolutely abhorred. On Oct. 15, 1994, Florida was the No. 1 team in the country, and they welcomed No. 6 Auburn to Gainesville, a team that came in with a 17-game winning streak – but also a probation tag from the NCAA, not allowing them to play in the postseason. At that time, my dream was to play quarterback, and, while watching Florida games that year leading up to that game, the Gators’ Terry Dean had put himself in the Heisman Trophy driver’s seat. You couldn’t mention Dean without the qualifier of “Heisman candidate” beforehand. I had wanted to archive what happened in the game so much that, after begging my father for a blank VHS tape, we recorded the game on the VCR.
The game started, and Dean, the quarterback whom I was living vicariously through, didn’t have it. One interception. Then a second. Then a third. Then a fumble. Then a fourth interception. After that fourth interception, Dean, the Heisman frontrunner, was replaced by a relative nobody at the time by the name of Danny Wuerffel. It was a bad game, yes, but I’m sure Dean would make up for it in the games to come.
He didn’t. He barely played the rest of that senior season. I was furious that the coach, the first leader of men on the football field that I had wanted to know everything about, would do that to Dean. I couldn’t stand Florida for a while after that. Well, until the quarterback he put in to replace Dean would lead the Gators to a national championship a couple of years later, as well as win the Heisman Trophy.
Therein lies the greatness of Steve Spurrier: you can equally love and hate the man for the same exact personality traits. Honesty was definitely his policy.
Now, as Steve Spurrier starts his time away from college football after his resignation from the head post at South Carolina earlier this week, I can’t help but think that we’ll never see a coach like that in the college game ever again.
Confident. Smugly brash. Impulsive. Demure. Frank. A walking quote board. A positive voice for college football players to receive compensation outside of a scholarship. A reporter’s dream. All of that goes away as Spurrier rides into the college coaching sunset.
The college football world will miss you Steve Spurrier. More than you imagine…well, except if you’re a Tennessee Volunteers fan.
A couple of members of the A Lot of Sports Talk 2015 College Football Poll panel have spent many years in SEC or have taken many trips to SEC territory, and probably have a story or two about the Ol’ Ball Coach to tell also. For now, what they want to tell us is how they voted in this week’s poll, and, as always, here are the seven people who combine to bring you our insightful aggregate poll: T.J. Basalla (super fan, marketing professional based in Ohio), Evie Van Pelt (managing editor at The Rebel Walk Magazine), Basil Mitchell (former TCU and Green Bay Packers RB), Sandy Weintraub (super fan, Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards at the University of Oregon), Nick Mancuso (patent attorney who attended USC as an undergrad and Oregon for law school), Adesina Koiki (Football Writers Association of America member/voter, A Lot Of Sports Talk editor-in-chief) and an anonymous football staff member at a Division II school who once coached at the FBS level.
Here is ALOST‘s 2015 College Football Top 25 for Week 3. If you have any comments and/or complaints, write them below on the Facebook window or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
The Bears become our third different team to hold onto the No. 1 spot in the past three weeks. Keep scoring 66 points, like they did against Kansas last week, and they’ll probably be staying up here for a while. (Adesina Koiki)
No matter how talented the Horned Frog offense is, that defense may cost them before the season is over. (T.J. Basalla)
They have the talent. They have the coaching staff. They are just not clicking fully yet, and, to be honest, they don’t have to until the Michigan State and Michigan games in November to right things. (T.J.)
More than coming up with big-time, primetime victories, what also makes for a landmark season is avoiding the letdown after an emotional win, and that’s the situation the Utes find themselves in when playing Arizona State on Saturday night. (Adesina)
Because of the South Carolina game having to be moved to Baton Rouge due to flooding, the Tigers will have spent every single day of October in the Pelican State. That may prove vital when having to prepare for a brutal November. (Adesina)
Clemson teams of the past would find a way to lose that Georgia Tech game. Not this year. Not this team. (T.J.)
“Little Brother” has been sleepwalking through the past few games, but visiting “Big Brother” on Saturday may be the spark that Sparty needs to get back to playing their best football. (Adesina)
The Aggies hope to show that last year’s 59-0 debacle in Tuscaloosa was an aberration, but A&M only has a 5-7 conference record at Kyle Field since joining the SEC. Look for John Chavis’ defense, led by Myles Garrett, to create trouble for the ‘Bama offense. (Evie Van Pelt)
Al Golden will never beat the Noles. (T.J.)
Nick Saban and Co. enter the “Home of the 12th Man” searching for a victory, and A&M has only beaten the Tide twice in their history: the Jan. 1968 Cotton Bowl and the 2012 Johnny Manziel Heisman season. With a four-point spread (ALA, -3.5, as of Friday afternoon), this game is anyone’s guess and could come down to the last possession—again. (Evie)
The Gators are atop the SEC East, but may need more than PEDs to defeat LSU in Death Valley. (Evie)
People forget that Brady Hoke was able to recruit four and five-star athletes to Ann Arbor. He just didn’t know what to do with them when they got there. Jim Harbaugh has figured it out. (T.J.)
It’s a shame that everything that’s going on with the coaching situation at USC is overshadowing the actual matchup with the Irish and the Trojans Saturday night. What the Golden Domers have to watch out for is an inspired performance from a USC team that’s now looking to save face. (Adesina)
Are the Cardinal going to lose before the Pac-12 title game? After the performance the Cardinal – especially running back Christian McCaffrey – put on against UCLA, it’s hard to imagine them losing again in the regular season. (Adesina)
Following their last home game on Sept. 24, a 53-46 win over Cincinnati, University of Memphis fans chanted, “We want Ole Miss!” As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for. (Evie)
It took overtime, but the Cowboys got out of Morgantown with a win. Their reward now is consecutive bye weeks: their actual bye week, followed by a home game against Kansas. (Adesina)
I think we need to seriously start talking about the Hawkeyes making the College Football Playoff. I know, it sounds crazy. However, if the Hawkeyes beat Northwestern Saturday, they should be favored in every game the rest of the regular season. That would get them a trip to Indy for the Big Ten Championship. Win that? Hoo boy. (T.J.)
Well, after last night’s evisceration at the hands of Stanford, the Bruins are pretty much relegated to the role of spoiler for the rest of the regular season in the Pac-12. (Adesina)
Sometimes getting blown out is easier to take than losing a heartbreaker. Northwestern lost to the better team Saturday in Ann Arbor but they will be fine going forward. (T.J.)
No shame in losing to a Top 5 team on the road by a touchdown. Whether they’re a legitimate Pac-12 championship contender or not remains to be seen. (Adesina)
You may get to know all about the Rockets very soon. Not only are they in the Top 25 and serious contendrts for a New Years’ Six bowl, but, after their next two games, their final four regular-season games of the season will all be on weekdays, as well as appear on national television. (Adesina)
BIG GAME BOB STRIKES AGAIN! (T.J.)
If the Broncos are to lose before the regular season is over, the most likely opponent on the schedule to knock them off is Utah State, the team Boise plays tonight, on the road, in Logan, UT. (Adesina)
Do you know the only player in the FBS to average 200 yards passing AND 100 yards rushing per game this season? That would be Greg Ward Jr. of Houston, a man who’s continuing the rich tradition of great quarterback play at Houston (Andre Ware, David Klingler, Kevin Kolb, Case Keenum). (Adesina)
What? Two American Athletic Conference teams ranked? Yes, sir! Temple is just two wins away from going into their game against Notre Dame game undefeated. Who would have thought that might be the biggest game played at Lincoln Financial Field in 2015, Philadelphia Eagles’ games included? (Adesina)
Others receiving votes:
Arizona State (13 points), Memphis (10), Duke (6), Georgia (2)
* – To break ties, we used a three-step criteria; 1) higher number of first-place votes, 2) higher number of ballots (out of six) the teams appeared in, 3) highest single ranking by an individual pollster (e.g. if Team A and Team B are tied cumulatively and appeared in all six polls, but Team A’s highest ranking by an individual pollster was No. 7 and Team B’s highest ranking by an individual pollster was No. 9, Team A wins tiebreaker)
[Cover photo (Steve Spurrier) courtesy of Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]