Sapakoff: Spurrier adds shine to his South Carolina football legacy with a TD pass – Charleston Post Courier

COLUMBIA – Steve Spurrier, 72, dropped back to pass. That NFL quarterback form, circa. 1967, was still there even with a helmet and facemask replaced by a white visor and sunglasses.

He bought precious extra seconds with his feet.

He pump faked.

And wouldn’t you know it, Dr. Harris Pastides, the University of South Carolina President wearing garnet jersey No. 1, broke open in the end zone Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Spurrier threaded the needle for a short touchdown pass, the highlight of the Alumni Game preceding the Gamecocks’ spring game and a fresh but emphatic reminder.

Never mind that Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy as a Florida Gators quarterback, is most famous for his coaching days at Florida, again is working at Florida and lives in Gainesville.

The Head Ball Coach with three straight 11-2 seasons, four straight bowl victories and five straight wins over mostly very good Clemson teams demonstrated that South Carolina could have big-time football success when stars align. He is also a shadow that will loom over Gamecock football coaches for decades.

“A lot did happen here,” Spurrier said. “That’s for sure.”

Spurrier during the Alumni Game paused to reflect on what he thinks is the ultimate takeaway from his 2005-2015 Columbia tenure.

“Will Muschamp could be here for 15 or 20 years,” Spurrier said, “because now South Carolina has the reputation and success that can keep a coach here. Sometimes when a coach has a lot of success, they go to one of those big schools but now there is no need to leave a school like South Carolina. It’s the same way with Dabo (Swinney) and Clemson. These two schools have the facilities, you just have to get it going and keep it going and you can be very relevant in college football.”

Spurrier shook a lot of hands Saturday.

He posed for camera photos with Alumni Game participants and others.

“When Coach Spurrier comes back he just fits in perfect,” South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner said. “This is very genuine for him. He works at Florida but when he comes back here he feels at home, too.”

‘Special players’

Jerri Spurrier was on hand, too, having a blast. Steve Spurrier’s wife and former U. of Florida sweetheart took classes at South Carolina when she lived in Columbia. She made cookies for players.

“My players, too,” she said Saturday. “These are my boys.”

The Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility is just across Bluff Road from Williams-Brice Stadium, a link to the success and generosity of Muschamp’s predecessor. Time is kinder to Spurrier’s best South Carolina seasons and more forgiving of his sudden retirement within a 3-9 collapse in 2015.

It might be several generations before another three consecutive 11-2 football seasons around here.

“You just have to find some of those special players,” Spurrier said. “We had a lot of good players with good attitudes.”

The run of talented South Carolinians that picked South Carolina was incredible: Stephon Gilmore, Alshon Jeffery, Marcus Lattimore, Jadevon Clowney and Bruce Ellington top the list. Plus quarterbacks from Florida (Stephen Garcia) and Georgia (Connor Shaw) and a dominant defensive lineman from North Carolina (Melvin Ingram).

“When you’re doing it, it’s like ‘Hey, we can do this again next year — let’s go do it,’” Spurrier said. “But when you get it going, you just have to try to keep it going as long as you can.”

Dropped pass, ovation

Spurrier has said he might consider coaching in the Alliance of American Football League that targets a February, 2019 start date. Ideally, with an Orlando franchise.

He looks great. He keeps in shape with a patented workout routine: treadmill/bike for 45 minutes to an hour, sit-ups and light weights; 90 minutes total.

Ah, but Spurrier fell down in the end zone Saturday while dropping a long pass from backup quarterback Michael Scarnecchia in the actual Garnet and Black Game that followed the Alumni Game.

“Oh, man,” Gamecocks wide receiver Bryan Edwards said. “Might be ‘Sports Center Not Top 10.’”

Spurrier got up smiling. He got a big hand from the crowd of 25,500.

One dropped pass doesn’t take away from the legacy, or the shadow.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff

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