Posted: 12:02 pm Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Steve Spurrier defies old age on the recruiting trail 

By Michael Carvell

The Ageless Ball Coach (AP)

The Ageless Ball Coach? (AP)

You would think that Steve Spurrier has gotten younger, not older.

Only a few years ago, opposing teams were hammering South Carolina on the recruiting trail by planting ideas in heads of recruits that Spurrier was on the brink of retirement.

But three straight seasons of 11-2 records and top-10 finishes have pretty much terminated those “negative recruiting” rumors.

Spurrier, who will turn 69 years old in April, just smiled when asked about the topic in an interview with the AJC on Tuesday.

“That’s just other coaches guessing,” Spurrier said. “I will tell you what is neat. You look around at college basketball now, and there’s Jimmy Boeheim, who is almost 70 years old. He has got the only undefeated team in the country. Larry Brown is at SMU. He’s 73, and I think they’re a top 10 team. Mike Krzyzewski is in his upper 60s and so forth. Coaches don’t get fired for being older coaches. They get fired for not winning. That’s why there’s not a bunch of old coaches out there because, along the way, almost everybody gets fired. That’s just the way it is.

“Physically and hopefully mentally, I’m the same as I was 20 years ago. I can still call the plays and all of that. I probably do more as a head coach than 90-percent of the guys out there, as far as game day and calling the plays. There are not many head coaches who call the plays anymore. So really, age is just a number.

“It all comes down if you are winning and losing, if you’re recruiting well, and if your program is on the upbeat and it’s positive. That’s what we all shoot for and obviously it’s not that easy to do.

“But the age of a coach really has nothing to do with it.”

The only two SEC teams that finished in the AP Top 10 each of the last three years (AP)

Coaches of the only two SEC teams that finished in the AP Top 10 each of the last three years (AP)

Spurrier has found the fountain of youth on the recruiting trail, particularly in Georgia. South Carolina finished with a top 15 class in the 247sports.com composite rankings with 21 signees, including five from Georgia.

“We don’t run into much of any negative recruiting around here as SEC coaches,” Spurrier said. “We were involved with a player who was being recruited by a Big Ten school. They got negative a little bit with ‘There’s a lot of crime in Columbia, the big city. They don’t graduate their players,’ which was completely untrue. They searched for a little bit of everything but the player came with us anyways.”

What does Spurrier say when people ask him how much longer he’s going to coach?

“I’ve been saying ‘four or five more years’ since I was 55. And now I’m 68 and I say ‘Three or four more.’ I will probably be saying that next hopefully if we’re winning, recruiting well, and everybody is happy. Hopefully that’s what I’ll say next year. Who knows?”

You could make the argument that no out-of-state school recruited the state of Georgia’s “elite prospects” better this year than South Carolina and Auburn. Both SEC schools landed three out of the Georgia’s consensus top 15 prospects.

“South Carolina and Alabama are the only two SEC teams that have finished in the top 10 the last three years,” Spurrier said. “We’ve gone 11-2 the last three years. Our university is almost the perfect distance from the Atlanta area for a young man to go to college. It’s 2.5 or three hours to drive, and his parents can almost come and see him play in every game. We’ve got a good program here. We graduate our players. We’ve sent a bunch of guys to the NFL. And we’re winning.

“But we have not won the SEC yet. So that is a goal that is still out there that we hope to achieve within the next three or four years.”

Steve Spurrier

Steve Spurrier: “Physically and hopefully mentally, I’m the same as I was 20 years ago”

South Carolina’s biggest recruiting victory in Georgia was Cedar Grove High School linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams, the state’s No. 6 overall prospect. The 4-star linebacker committed early to the Gamecocks, and stuck with his original decision after causing panic attacks among South Carolina fans with official visits to Alabama and UGA during the final two weekends before signing day.

“We felt good about Bryson Allen-Williams all the way through,” Spurrier said. “Sometimes you wonder why these young men want to go visit, but it’s a free trip and they get to look around and see different places. I know I did it when I was being recruited back in the 60s. I enjoyed visiting Duke University and watching a basketball game. I went up to Kentucky and watched one in January or February.

“So it’s sort of fun going on visits. We felt pretty good that Bryson was with us all the way. Alabama and Georgia was trying to change his mind but fortunately they didn’t do it.”

Perhaps just as impressive was South Carolina’s courtship of M.L. King High School’s Wesley Green, the state’s No. 12 prospect. He committed early to South Carolina, backed of his pledge because he wasn’t hearing from the coaches as much as he would’ve liked, and then signed with the Gamecocks over UGA last week.

You almost never see a kid go back with the school he de-committed from. South Carolina’s coaches deserve a lot of credit for rebuilding the relationship.

“That’s true, you don’t see that a lot,” Spurrier said. “Wesley committed, uncommitted and opened it back up. I think the best opportunity for Wesley is at the University of South Carolina. He’s a defensive corner and we have a huge need for defensive corners. Both of our starting corners left after last year. We don’t have a lot of guys behind them. We will, in all likelihood, start a true freshman at defensive corner.”

South Carolina also edged Missouri for North Gwinnett High School defensive end Dante Sawyer, the state’s No. 7 prospect. Sawyer’s stock blew up after registering three sacks in the Army All-America Bowl. Other colleges tried to come in late, but Sawyer declined interest.

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– By Michael Carvell, AJC’s Recruiting Blog

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33 comments
FrankFraticelli
FrankFraticelli

Sorry - I meant to say there can be no argument there :)

FrankFraticelli
FrankFraticelli

Spurrier is a great coach - there can be argument there. It's just that with the best defensive player in the country last year, he allowed the Dawgs to hit him up for 41 points. He recruits great players, something just happens to them when they get to SC.

PeterHulsebos
PeterHulsebos

Whether you like him or not, he's one of the best EVER! Look at what he's done with my beloved Gamecocks!

BCB
BCB

Who cares? Spurrier is a clown.

NCRATS
NCRATS

what school was he talking about feeding a kid false information?


RedandBlackDAWG
RedandBlackDAWG

One of two things need to happen for Spurrier to retire. Either he wins the SEC or he becomes too senile to coach any more, I am betting on the latter happening first.  he has some cogs to replace in the engine this year but I think they should still be a strong contender for the SEC East.

Dawg4murray
Dawg4murray

Spurrier knows football, give the ole' man credit. SC is a serious threat.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

The ole ball coach is a goodun no doubt. What he's done for USCe is amazing. Not sure many coaches in the business today could have matched his record with the Fighting Chickens (with respect).

Dewnsav
Dewnsav

gotta love the ole ball coach...he tells it like it is...which rubs some people the wrong way...oh well...great college coach...go dogs

DIT
DIT

As much as I think Spurrier is a Total Tool, he is one of the best if not the best college coach in the country. I know that I will catch flack from the Bammers, but y'all have to agree. My opinion is that if Spurrier did not coach in the SEC the SEC would not be as strong as it is today. Wow, that hurt, but it's the truth.

Astropig
Astropig

We've been privileged to watch Spurrier work since 1990 in the SEC. He truly belongs up there on the SEC Rushmore with Neyland,Dodd, and ...Bryant. The guy redefined the league when he took over at UF,built a championship program where there had been none and arguably defined his era-while never landing in the NCAA doghouse.He has made Cackalacky one of the best jobs in the conference and won more games there than any coach that came before.The guy has an eye for talent and has stood up for doing the right thing by his players by paying them a living stipend so that they can have the same college experience as their classmates.


Spurrier is now and has been good for college football and we are lucky to have seen the man work.

SonofSammyDavisJrJr
SonofSammyDavisJrJr

Let’s be real and analyze this:

2 hours to his west is Augusta National, 2.5 hours to his south is Charleston, and Kiawah Island with the ocean course, 3 hours to his east is the golf capitol of the world, and 4 hours to the north is his childhood home. In addition he’s winning and has the run of the state.Spurrier is definitely in the catbird seat.The reason why most people hate Spurrier is because he has more football allcolades than they have friends.

Peachs
Peachs

The guy is kidding about reading about South Carolina right?In both states next to Georgia, Alabama and Auburn, South Carolina and Clemson, Georgia is an also run, but we want to hear more about Georgia?We usually get deprive of any real football news in this paper because they won’t write about anybody but Georgia. Richt is put in the same breath with all the other coaches who are better coaches, we get a distortion of the facts in this state because of the AJC.

FYI1969
FYI1969

Why is it that in "Latest Bulldogs News" on AJC, I see nothing but stories about Spurrier, recruits from Auburn, and Alabama? Really? Hey Sports writers and bosses at AJC, put BULLDOGS stories in the UGA section and create a rest of the SEC section for these other "teams", please.

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

You got to give The Old ,  bast@@@ , I mean Son of a Bi@@@ , sorry,  Ball Coach credit . He is one tough old bird. He has mellowed just a little from his Florida days but he and Saban are cut from the same cloth , All business , no loyalty as far as Coaches go. You either do your job or you get replaced. He has been a great Coach and whether Georgia fans like him or not he has been good for College Football. 

Actually he must not have any live other than Football because if it was me I would retire in Florida and play golf every day until I was too old to compete any longer and that is the reason Golf may not be important.  He just can't compete any longer and Steve can't just go out and play Golf for fun. The competition is what makes it fun for him as does College Football. Soon he will get too old just like Bobby Bowden and that will be a sad day even though it will be welcomed by Georgia fans because Spurrier has certainly been a pain in the rear end.

MoistDawg
MoistDawg

spurrier is harmless im not to worried about him at all. when is his last national or sec title? he will be gone soon and when hes gone uscjr will go back to being a irrelevent doormat again. they will never quite get to elite status with us big dawgs.

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

"Steve Spurrier defies old age on the recruiting trail"

Of course he does.  I'm assuming the devil doesn't age like you or me.

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

I don't despise Stevie like most Dawg fans do, I did back when he was at UF, but now a days the Ole Ball Sac just kind of tells it like it is, if you can't handle the truth, then don't listen to it. Florida was one of the top violators of NCAA rules before Spurrier arrived there, with Charlie Pell and Galen Hall and the like, but I never got the feeling that Spurrier ever had to cheat at UF to win or get his players. I respect Spurrier a lot more than I do the P.O.S. Nick Saban, which I wholeheartedly believe will bend or break any rule he thinks he can get away with in order to get an edge, because I believe that is the only way he can win, with the unlevel playing field tilted his way.

RedandBlackDAWG
RedandBlackDAWG

@Peachs The last I checked, the AJC was a Georgia paper. Considering the other DIV. I school in the state usually doesn't make a very big splash in football, that is what they are suppose to write about.

They write a lot about the Hawks, Falc0ons and Braves also. Who would have figured. You want to read about other teams go to their websites, or papers. If UGA is a also ran, as you claim, at least it is the top sports organization in the state.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Steve beat Bama's ash often and I respect that. We won a time or two and we had some great games.

Rackcoon02
Rackcoon02

@MoistDawg When was the last NC for GA?  Oh yeah, over 30+ years ago!!! LMAO, GA SUCKS!!!!

SicEm17
SicEm17

41-30 OLD BALL COACH! Who got Mr. Football in SC the past 2 years. Can we get an article about this being a trend? Or if we are going to write about Spurriers recruiting can we talk about all the over signing and culling of players they have done the past 5 years or how they have been on probation twice in the last 10 years? Crickets.......

BCB
BCB

@Rackcoon02 @MoistDawg But UGA owns UF. Look at the record boy. GO DAWGS! Looking forward to 4 in a row this year.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

spoken from a fan of a team that has more arrest than any team in the country other than Florida. Put Richt at USCe and Steve at UGA and then see who is on 1st base! Richt can't even see Steve from his position in the line of good football coaches.

SicEm17
SicEm17

@KeepOnSmilingWetWillie  Its not that simple. At SoCar Richt would not have to deal with some admission issues he has to deal with at UGA. He would not have to suspend kids for failing a single drug test. He would not have kids getting arrested for driving a scooter without a valid liscence. He would not have a QB get arrested 3 times and NEVER EVER miss a down of football. He would be allowed to oversign and cull players. He would have an indoor practice facility. He would have the top player in 10 years of high school football mysteriously get into school with changed transcripts? You think he could get away with that at UGA? I think you are vastly underestimating some of the advantages the old ball sack has in Columbia. And of all those arrest you speak of how many would see the light of day in Columbia where even the media is in the tank for you? You think SOS would handle the AJC constantly trying to throw negative publicity his way? He would probably get into a physical altercation with Bradley or Carvell. The guy had one reporter who wasnt totally in the tank for him basically "reassigned". Oh and by the way 41-30!!!!!