ESPN | Gainesville
Gainesville | Gainesville
To general incredulity, Steve Spurrier has announced his retirement at
Florida, saying he wants to try the NFL, despite not having a (public)
suitor.Â He'll have one, if he doesn't already.
We have to confess a soft spot for Spurrier, partly of course because he
coached at Duke, and did a tremendous job, but for another, more elemental
reason: he made football fun.Â For us, that's not always easy. Football is
a great American game, but not our favorite, needless to say. Spurrier has an
obvious gift for fun offensive football, but beyond that, he has a quality which
verges on genius: he makes people hate him, and he enjoys it. This is not a
A few years ago, a UVa football player said, "we hate Duke." When
asked why, he couldn't answer.Â We knew why: Spurrier drove that entire
school to distraction. Beating Duke became a mission.
The same thing happened to Florida State, Miami, Georgia, and, most of all,
to Tennessee.Â Steve Spurrier drove those people nuts - and they paid good
money to come out and see him (they hoped) humiliated.
That he rarely was just made them want it more.
This is a talent relatively few people have.Â Howard Cosell had it, and
Ali too.Â Maybe Reggie Jackson, and certainly Red Auerbach.Â But in
our time, no one else has really had the same ability to drive people nuts and
make them desperate to see someone cut down to size.Â Spurrier has that,
Our hope is that in the NFL, he'll go into a division with some keen
pre-existing rivalries - the Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles and Giants, or with
Cleveland and Pittsburgh, or Chicago and Green Bay.Â We'd love to see him
do the same thing on that stage, because, frankly, the NFL is really
boring.Â Our guess is that before too long, people will be showing up to
boo him and jeer him - and to fear him as well.