Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, October 13, 2015, 10:51 a.m.
No sooner than the flood waters subside, and Steve Spurrier’s gone. Well, not gone. He’s not going to coach ball at the University of South Carolina anymore.
First, Spurrier was The Old Ball Coach in Columbia. Then he became The Head Ball Coach. I always suspected this had something to do with his ego. When word leaked out that he was retiring, almost immediately he started being The Old Ball Coach again.
I’m surprised Donald Trump hasn’t tweeted about it. Yet. Or offered himself as a candidate for the job.
It would be huge!
I’ve never met Spurrier. He was at several race tracks when I was there, but I never much cared for those opportunities to hobnob with the celebrities who visited the tracks. The only time I ever remember paying much attention was when then-Gov. George W. Bush toured Texas Motor Speedway, and then I just tagged along in case he said something stupid.
What I mainly remember is that another reporter tagging along was the last person I ever expected to be a Republican, and she probably thought I was the last person she ever expected to be a Democrat.
Some stereotyping was going on.
The purpose of this blog isn’t politics, though.
Also, I got excited about Tom Wolfe being at Bristol. I wanted to ask him about Wallace Stegner, and it’s one of the best decisions I ever made.
I wish I’d gotten a chance to write about Spurrier’s teams. I’ve always liked eccentrics. Spurrier fascinated me. He was the best coach ever for dumb interviews before halftime. He’s one of the few who ever made them worth watching.
Somehow, irrationally, I think I might have been able to get along with the man, but it wouldn’t have really mattered. When it gets right down to it, I’m seldom impressed by athletes and coaches in terms of intellect. Many of them are smart as a whip, but what it really takes to be a coach or an athlete isn’t brilliance. It’s the ability to think clearly under pressure.
Here in this football-mad state, my view is a bit detached. I care deeply for the athletic programs of Furman University, my alma mater, and Presbyterian College, which is here in town. When they play, I root for Furman, but I wish they wouldn’t.
Carolina and Clemson? I’m interested. I vaguely hope both do well, but, and I’ve asked the Lord to forgive me for this, it sort of tickles me when they don’t. The crazy fans are so much fun to watch when things aren’t going their way.
Some of those fans will shed a tear over Steve Spurrier and “the end of an era.” Some Clemson fans will pay lip service (“I was never a big Spurrier fan, but …” or “Spurrier was a great coach, but …”) to what he did in Columbia. Some will recall that the Spurrier-led Gamecocks beat Clemson five years in a row and forget about last year. Others will remember last year and forget about the five in a row.
What I’m going to miss is him just making me laugh.
Some coaches are crazy. I made up one. His name is Chance Benford, and the novel is called Crazy of Natural Causes. I hope it’ll make you laugh and think, but it’s on sale right now for $1.99, so surely it’s worth a small gamble. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes