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Steve Spurrier: There’s more to life than winning SEC championship

Steve Spurrier

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.

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29 Responses to “Steve Spurrier: There’s more to life than winning SEC championship”
  1. planecrashguy says: Jun 30, 2014 12:49 PM

    In others words, as long as Spurrier gets to play golf and the school/fans are satisfied with a meaningless bowl game, it’s a win-win.

  2. wabbitslayer says: Jun 30, 2014 1:10 PM

    Or in still other words, Spurrier thinks this upcoming year’s team isn’t going to be very good and he has no chance whatsoever of ever winning a SEC championship while at South Carolina.

  3. tubaplayingprof says: Jun 30, 2014 1:11 PM

    @SoCarolina. For your next hire, find someone who hasn’t already won a SEC championship (especially at his alma mater) and someone who’s hungry for one.

  4. john8220 says: Jun 30, 2014 1:20 PM

    Unlike other coaches, Spurrier wants to do what’s never been done at a school before. Florida had never won the SEC or a national championship. They did with him as coach.

    South Carolina was horrible before he got there. He changed the culture and has had 3 straight 11-2 seasons! And I wouldn’t describe two Capital One bowl wins and an Outback bowl win “meaningless”.

    In this article, Spurrier is simply being Spurrier. He’s pointing out his achievements at South Carolina and downplaying Saban’s at Alabama. By saying that an SEC championship isn’t the ultimate goal at South Carolina, but that because of the elite players at ‘Bama it is expected every year, he is setting up high praise for him when he wins it and diminishing ANYTHING Saban achieves.

    Can’t y’all see that?

  5. microbrewuga says: Jun 30, 2014 1:30 PM

    Darth Visor is mellowing out in his later years.

  6. classyjacklambert says: Jun 30, 2014 1:47 PM

    It’s a good philosophy to have when you realize your team has just peaked at just above mediocrity.

  7. rolltide510 says: Jun 30, 2014 1:59 PM

    I’m a huge Steve Spurrier fan, but there’s absolutely no way to slice this as anything but accepting mediocrity out of necessity.

    If South Carolina fans are okay with 11-2, then they need to just go ahead and be Clemson fans and call it a day.

  8. john8220 says: Jun 30, 2014 2:14 PM

    Three straight top-10 finishes, three straight 11-win seasons, five straight wins over rival Clemson and the longest current home winning streak in the country. Is this mediocrity?

    And to prove Spurrier is just setting y’all up, here’s what he told Chris Low for back on April 24th when asked if the Gamecocks have exceeded expectations:
    “No, we’ll exceed them when we win the SEC,” Spurrier said. “That’s still the goal, to push for that. We’ve made some really good progress, on the field and financially. When I got here, we’d had one person to give a million dollars to athletics, and her name is on the stadium, Mrs. [Martha] Williams-Brice, and that was in 1972.

    “Since then, we’ve found 10 or 11 wealthy people who’ve given over a million dollars. We were way behind financially to most of the schools in the SEC and are still trying to catch up. But we’ve been able to get the facilities upgraded, and once we did that, we were able to sign our top in-state kids. That’s been huge.”

  9. planecrashguy says: Jun 30, 2014 2:17 PM


    SC was horrible before Holtz got there, but he made them respectable. Still remember Ryan Brewer, Ohio’s “Mr Football who didn’t get a sniff from John Cooper, leading SC to consecutive bowl wins over Ohio St. That second loss pretty much cost Cooper his job.

  10. john8220 says: Jun 30, 2014 2:26 PM

    Planecrashguy – Holtz made them respectable for two seasons, then followed that up with losing seasons and the worst loss to Clemson in school history. He never won the SEC East or finished in the AP Top Ten once, let alone three straight years.

  11. planecrashguy says: Jun 30, 2014 2:40 PM

    I didn’t say conference or national power, I said respectable. Holtz improved the level of talent that served as a springboard for Spurrier.

    Was that “worst loss” to Clemson the game with the brawl?

  12. seminolez says: Jun 30, 2014 2:55 PM

    he has to say that because South Carolina fans have never known what it’s like to win a conference championship

  13. planecrashguy says: Jun 30, 2014 3:20 PM

    Not true, I remember SC winning the ACC in the late 60s.

  14. packergator says: Jun 30, 2014 3:40 PM

    Spoken like a guy who knows he’ll never win the SECCG at South Carolina.

  15. rolltide510 says: Jun 30, 2014 5:04 PM

    “john8220 says:
    Jun 30, 2014 2:14 PM
    Three straight top-10 finishes, three straight 11-win seasons, five straight wins over rival Clemson and the longest current home winning streak in the country. Is this mediocrity?”

    Yep. Who cares how many times you made it to Atlanta and lost?

    Heck, for that matter, who cares about beating Clemson?

  16. flagator07 says: Jun 30, 2014 5:39 PM

    What he’s saying is – I’ve done the best that can be expected at SC.

    And preparing SC fans for when he leaves to return to Gainesville after Muschamp is fired at the end of this season.

  17. classyjacklambert says: Jun 30, 2014 6:13 PM

    Hey the golden era of gamecock football netted them a top 5 finish! Which is better than a lot of other mediocre football programs out there.

  18. ancientcougar says: Jun 30, 2014 8:27 PM

    SC has got a great coach.

  19. dcroz says: Jun 30, 2014 9:20 PM

    This is Spurrier setting up what his legacy is going to be, which for him is going to be, “I succeeded where no one else did,” as opposed to Saban’s “I won more championships in less time than anyone ever…and maybe more than anyone in any amount of time before I’m done.” Like Saban, he knows that he will be counted among the greatest ever in the college game when he is finished, but he knows that he will be rated below Saban if the basis for comparison is on titles. Spurrier instead wants the focus to be on doing the most with what he has and winning at places that had either never experienced it or had not in recent memory. He turned Duke from laughingstock to respectable in his time there, turned Florida from SEC irrelevancy and/or doghouse occupier (finally won its first SEC title in 1984; lost it due to sanctions) to national power, and turned South Carolina from everyone’s favorite homecoming opponent to top-ten perennial. He said a few months ago that Saban has been at places that had past success and still had the structure in place to be great again (Michigan State, LSU, ‘Bama) and insinuated that he could have had similar success had he been at those places; he actually was offered the job in T-Town in 2006 after Mike Shula was fired and before Saban got the offer. How history judges his career–including how it measures his versus Saban’s–remains to be seen, but he will always top the charts in saying things that are entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time.

  20. classyjacklambert says: Jun 30, 2014 9:44 PM

    Well put Dcroz.

  21. kaspauf says: Jul 1, 2014 9:35 AM

    dcroz: Great point you make and it really does raise the question… measured by championships or win where no one else has or in other words build programs. I think the majority unfortunately will say the number of titles but Spurrier is one of a kind, schools with little tradition and making them something while Saban just says LSU or Bama… kids will come but Spurrier worked with what he could get. This also remind me of UK basketball vs. UF basketball…. Billy Donovan built a program, Coach Cal went to a power house program historically but Billy D went to a ‘Football School’ and created his own legacy.

  22. onbucky96 says: Jul 1, 2014 10:27 AM

    Golf at Augusta, talkin smack about Tennessee, covering for Clowney. Yep, the O.B.C. is right.

  23. rolltide510 says: Jul 1, 2014 10:49 AM

    Okay, these rationalizations are starting to get a tad silly. Newsflash: Spurrier and his players want to win championships just like every other team does.

    Spurrier is the best coach South Carolina has ever had, but to his point about possibly being able to duplicate Saban’s success at the same programs, there’s plenty of coaches who if proximity to great golf courses were their primary motivation could have been the best coach South Carolina has ever had just as easily.

    We get it Steve, you’re in the twilight of your career, and you’re letting your boss and fans know 10 wins and beating Clemson is probably as good as its going to get and they should look for reasons to be okay with it.

  24. imaduffer says: Jul 1, 2014 12:02 PM

    There is nothing worse than to get beaten by a team whose coach doesn’t care. Are you listening A&M?

  25. soldyou says: Jul 1, 2014 1:02 PM

    Umm…not if you play in the sec!

    Go Gators!!

  26. parhley says: Jul 3, 2014 9:34 AM

    I am a USC fan through and through.. I’m thankful for what Spurrier has done…maybe he’s saying this because the season is over, but if he feels like this all the time, this is a problem. We need someone to coach us that has agreat passion to win the SEC and a natty. We have been through the worst and now we are “respectable” I guess, of I don’t think we get our due. Some people think us USC fans should be happy with 11-2 seasons. I can tell you I am not jumping up for joy. I think we should have been playing in the SECCG the last two seasons. Spurrier has good play calls, but watching him a lot, he makes some very very questionable calls: @ Tennessee last years, two timeouts on a 3rd and 2, then punts..I can tell you most USC fans in the state were ready to gut him. That was quite possibly his worse decision at USC. That play was the difference between us at the SECCG and not. But then again he made a great decision to play a hurt Shaw at Mizzou.. I think overall, he needs to step aside and let his son take over. I firmly believe this. I stand behind this. We need someone younger and looking to prove himself, who better than the son of a coaching legend.

  27. gamecock4life says: Jul 3, 2014 2:15 PM

    Being a LONG Time South Carolina fan, these times with Spurrier have been the BEST years of my Gamecock loving life. Just to clue in the clueless let me tell you a little something about Gamecock Nation.
    All of Gamecock Nation want to win the SEC, Win a National Title (in Football) and Beat clemson. Let me break down the accomplishments since Spurrier started standing on our sidelines:
    Beat a top 10 ranked programs in football. We’ve done this so matter of factly now a days it’s expected. We use to hope we look good against teams like that, now we beat teams of the elk (Doesn’t matter if you’re ranked #1 See ‘bama’ the last time they came to Columbia) consistently.
    Be in the Conversation. South Carolina not because of some small probablity, but realistically has a chance to play for the National Championship Every YEAR! Especially the last 5 seasons. When you go 11-2 in three straight seasons, with a total of 6 losses in 3 years; and have the Nation’s Longest winning streak in your home stadium you’re a tough out!
    Every team has an off night, or a hiccup, and South Carolina has had it’s share over the last 3 seasons, while comprising the Nation’s Longest Home Winning Street, we have only played for one SEC Championship game. We’ve consistently beaten the the SEC East representative however, emphatically I have to add as well, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.
    Finally, we Completely OWN the State of South Carolina when it comes to football. I mean Own, consistently beating our in state rival. Even with teams that are made of some of the best talent that school has seen wearing that ugly color. On average beating them by two touchdowns home and away. This is a team that looks “so good” to others, but are grounded when they come visiting, or we come a calling! Get ready for 6 years in a row this upcoming season as well!
    So Mediocre? My Gamecocks are far from Mediocre. If you want to see mediocre look at the rest of the acc outside of Flordia State! We are even consistently finishing the season as one of the best teams in the Nation, and last year beat a whopping 5 bowl teams, more than anyone We expect more, want more, and boy are we Hungry! Go GameCocks! Thank you Coach Spurrier

  28. doctorlb says: Jul 5, 2014 11:46 PM

    Spurrier has changed his tune lately, maybe he is retirng this year? My prediction:
    12 SEC teams will not make it to the SEC CG this year.

  29. doctorlb says: Jul 5, 2014 11:46 PM


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