Hoover, Ala. — The grand ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel is Ground Zero at SEC Media Days. While the TV folks get the most attention, this room is reserved for the hard-core newspaper and internet writing force that sets the tone for this event. Coaches who come here for the first time find it a bit unnerving. This is a hard-to-impress bunch. This much you can count on.
When Steve Spurrier addresses “The Media Boys,” as he loves to call them, this room is full. This was Spurrier’s 22nd Media Days as a head coach in the SEC (10 at South Carolina, 12 at Florida). And over those two decades this event is filled with memories that only Spurrier could provide.
My favorite was the year that Spurrier, a long-time playoff advocate, was asked point-blank why there wasn’t a playoff. Spurrier pointed to the back of the room where SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer was listening intently. “There’s the commissioner back there,” Spurrier said. “Why don’t you ask him? Commissioner! How come we don’t have a playoff yet?”
Then there was the year that Spurrier, a former Heisman Trophy winner from Florida, left Tim Tebow, another Florida Heisman Trophy winner, off his preseason All-SEC ballot. He fixed that. But forget the entertainment value. Because when it comes to Spurrier, the numbers don’t lie.
Check these out:
42: His number of wins in the past four seasons at South Carolina.
11: Number of wins in each of the past three seasons.
6: Number of SEC Championships. Only Paul “Bear” Bryant has won more with 14. Vince Dooley (Georgia) and John Vaught (Ole Miss) have also won six.
10: Spurrier is entering his 10th season at South Carolina. He coached 12 seasons at Florida. He is the only coach in SEC history to spend 10 seasons at two different schools.
77: Wins at South Carolina, which is the school record. Rex Enright had the previous record with 64.
2: Only two coaches in SEC history are the career wins leader at two different schools: Bear Bryant (Kentucky, Alabama) and Steve Spurrier (Florida, South Carolina).
23-1: Spurrier’s record in season-opening games. His only loss in a season opener came in 1989 when Duke lost 27-21 at South Carolina. That Duke team would go on to win the ACC Championship. South Carolina opens this season on Aug. 28 at home against Texas A&M.
128: Spurrier’s SEC wins recorded in 21 seasons as a head coach. Bryant leads the list with 159, in 33 seasons (eight at Kentucky, 25 at Alabama).
18: Consecutive home wins at South Carolina going into this season. He turned 69 years old on April 20 and shows no sign of slowing down. He’s having too much fun.
“I’ve got better players now and that makes me a better coach,” Spurrier said. “We’ve got our facilities where we want them. We have the boosters stepping up and helping us with their money.
“I don’t get nearly as mad as I used too when things don’t go well. But I’ve learned how to get away from it and relax.”
He’s still The Head Ball Coach. Some like him. Some don’t. But trust me, we’re all going to miss him when he’s gone.