One of the best things about Steve Spurrier, other than his knack for explosive offenses and winning ball games, is that he refuses to speak in coaching cliches. He keeps it as real as it could possible get, and it keeps everyone on their toes.
After three straight eleven win seasons, including a 27-24 OT victory over Missouri (their only loss up until the SEC title game against Auburn), Spurrier has an interesting perspective on bringing home that elusive SEC title, and told Go Gamecocks that for him, there's more to life than being crowned the top dog in the SEC.
"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. Give the other guy credit."
"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."
Leave it to Spurrier to seamlessly use a golf analogy to sum up his views. The head ball coach went on to explain that winning your last game is just as important because of the momentum it provides everyone in the program throughout into the off season.
"But the other side of that is something I have learned from being here – there’s more to life than the SEC championship. I would still say that’s the biggest goal we could reach right there, but total wins, where you are ranked, the state championship, bowl victories. Winning that bowl game just makes life so much more pleasant until you play again."
Notice that reference to "state championships"? Yeah, Spurrier never misses an opportunity to troll on in state rival Clemson and Dabo Swinney, who they've beaten the past five seasons in a row for the first time in school history.
"In sports, we are all as good as our last game. If you win that bowl game, the fans, the team, it just gives you a good feeling heading into the offseason.
Then Spurrier got real philosophical, and it's refreshing to see how a coach as seasoned and battle tested as he is is able to keep perspective...and of course throw some not-so-subtle jabs in the process.
"Your expectations and what you achieve are different at every school. Every school is different. 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."
It's an excellent point that he could have worded differently, but he does have a great point; "success is relative to where you are". Now, anyone else would have used a program outside of the SEC footprint with a rich football tradition like USC or Notre Dame to make their point, but that just wouldn't have been Spurrier. Once again, well played Old Ball Coach.