Many football fans live by the thought that there is nothing more important than winning. That may have once been the case for South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, but in his older, wiser age it seems the ol’ ball coach has toned down his outlook on the coaching game these days. In an interview with Go Gamecocks, Spurrier said there is more to life than winning the SEC championship. It is a quote that may turn some heads and raise a few eyebrows, but at the same time it is a bit refreshing to hear a coach share that sentiment.
“To go 6-2 in the conference, which is the best record ever for South Carolina – and we did it three years in a row – how can you be upset? We are disappointed that we beat the division winner and they never lost again, but give them credit,” Spurrier said, referring to Missouri’s 2013 SEC East division crown. “Jack Nicklaus finished runner-up 19 times in the majors. Of course, he won 18, but every time he finished runner-up, he shook the hand of the other guy and said, ‘Well done, you beat me.’ Missouri ran the table after we beat them. People kept asking me, I said, ‘If they win it all, I’ll call coach (Gary) Pinkel and congratulate him,’ and that’s exactly what I did.”
Spurrier has turned South Carolina into a respectable force in the college football landscape since taking over the program from Lou Holtz. Spurrier coached South Carolina tot he SEC Championship Game in 2010, where the Gamecocks fell short against eventual BCS champion Auburn.
“But the other side of that is something I have learned from being here – there’s more to life than the SEC championship,” Spurrier continued. “I would still say that’s the biggest goal we could reach right there, but total wins, where you are ranked, the state championship (referring to the rivalry with Clemson), bowl victories. Winning that bowl game just makes life so much more pleasant until you play again.”
Of course, this may be easy for Spurrier to say because he has won a national championship and has been on top of the SEC and college football mountain. Perhaps knowing how it feels to win it all is something that Spurrier can reflect on while also aiming to once again reach that summit. Spurrier also says the expectations will always be different from school to school. To illustrate that belief, Spurrier commented on the recruiting classes put together by Nick Saban at Alabama, something he has done a couple of times before.
“Your expectations and what you achieve are different at every school,” Spurrier said. “For example, at Alabama, if I had had five No. 1 recruiting classes in the last six years like Alabama, I would say, ‘Fellas we are going to mess up if we lose a game, because we’ve got the best players in college football.’ But we’re not in that situation. Our history is not all that super before we got here, so everything is sort of relative to each school.”
Spurrier says he has thought about coaching four or five more years, but admitted he has been thinking that since he was about 55 years old. Now approaching 70, Spurrier seems to be going as strong as he has always been.