Four weeks ago, Georgia faced Steve Spurrier for the final time.
Late Monday evening, news broke that Spurrier, South Carolina’s head coach, would resign effective immediately. Spurrier held a press conference Tuesday afternoon and announced he was in fact stepping down.
Georgia head coach Mark Richt said it was always fun to compete against Spurrier’s teams for the excitement he brought to the sport. Of course, Spurrier built a reputation for being blunt and honest in front of cameras and recorders, which included taking some shots at his opponents. That never bothered Richt, who seemed to be entertained by Spurrier's antics over the years.
“You just never know what was going to happen or you never knew what he might say,” Richt said. “Some people got real bent out of shape with a lot of things he said. I never really did. The thing I liked the most about coach Spurrier, and as far as a relationship as a fellow head coach, is that he was always just honest about everything. What he was saying is what he was thinking, and he wasn't going to pull any punches one way or another. I appreciated that about him. So I didn't always agree with everything he said but I never really took anything too personally if he was trying to have little fun here and there. But I would wish him -- I texted him this morning, matter of fact, I wish him and his family a wonderful retirement. Coach, you deserve it, and you've blessed college football for many years.”
While a rival of Spurrier’s, dating back to Richt’s days as Florida State’s offensive coordinator when Spurrier was the head coach of Florida, the two always maintained a positive relationship. When Richt’s wife Katharyn was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, which she has since been treated and cured from, Spurrier called to let him know he was thinking of them.
Richt said it was a meaningful gesture that’s always stood out to him.
On the field, Georgia senior defensive end Sterling Bailey said Spurrier was always a unique coach to play against.
“He’s the 'Head Ball Coach.' He was a quarterback in college,” Bailey said. “He’s calling the plays like he’s out there playing. Just watching the way he coaches, it’s once in a lifetime. You’ll probably never see coaches like that.”
Spurrier got his first college head coaching job at Duke in 1987. In 1990, he took over at his alma mater Florida and built it into one of college football’s elite programs. After a stint with the NFL’s Washington Redskins from 2002-2003, Spurrier returned to the college game when he accepted the South Carolina job in 2005.
Georgia defeated South Carolina 51-14 in Week 3, with the Bulldogs dominating both sides of the ball. While the Gamecocks, at 2-4, have declined some in recent years, inside linebacker Jake Ganus said he’ll always remember Spurrier for what he accomplished as a head coach in the college football ranks.
“He’s awesome, he’s one of the best coaches there’s ever been,” Ganus said. “College football lost a good one. I got to play against him. I have nothing but respect for him. I hope he’s happy with whatever he does.”