Even as Bandits coach, Spurrier did things his own way
Outback Bowl president/CEO Jim McVay was marketing director of Tampa Bay’s fledgling United States Football League franchise — the Bandits — in the early 1980s when owner John Bassett walked into his office looking especially bubbly.
“He says, ‘I found my coach.’ I said, ‘Is that right? Who are you going to hire?’ ” McVay recalled.
“He had just come back from Durham, N.C. Spurrier was the offensive coordinator (at Duke), and he was absolutely taken with Steve Spurrier and his thinking. Owners, athletic directors, school presidents — they were all afraid of Steve. They didn’t think he’d conform to the normal coaching structure or way of life, in that he didn’t work, 12, 13 or 15 hours a day. Steve was a guy that knew what he wanted to do, was very efficient with his time. He was gonna do a great job as a coach, put together schemes, systems, Xs and Os, but he wasn’t a guy that would sit around the office all night.”
That flair for non-conformity is the reason McVay wasn’t surprised by Spurrier’s sudden resignation announcement Tuesday.
“Steve Spurrier has always thought outside the box,” McVay said. “No one’s going to impose their blueprint on Steve. It’s just not the way it works on Steve.”
More Spurrier reaction:
Former Gators All-American receiver Jacquez Green, who also played a season for Spurrier with the Washington Redskins: “Coach was very innovative and way ahead of time. Teams today are running schemes that we ran back in the early ’90s. I owe a lot to Coach for seeing something in me. I was a 149-pound, option QB from tiny Fort Valley Ga. Coach Spurrier always gave us confidence that we were able to achieve anything on the field, but if you couldn’t play, he would let you know that also. (He) didn’t b.s. his players. … I like that fact that Coach left on his own terms. He always did things his way.”
Armwood High coach Sean Callahan: “(Former UF and NFL offensive tackle) Mike Pearson had a real good relationship with Spurrier. Mike lived right around the corner from me in Seffner. When Spurrier came to his house (during the recruiting process) I went there. (My sons) Kirk and Casey, I told them both that they needed to go to bed and they couldn’t go see Coach Spurrier. So they both snuck up there and we caught them peaking in the window. We brought them in and took a picture of Kirk and Casey and Spurrier. That was the one time I got to just chit chat with him. For me he was good. …
“The thing about Steve is that he was kind of bigger than life. He had a personalty he would snap out of anybody whether it be Bobby Bowden and ‘Free Shoes University.’ He always put it out there. He was always very honest about his feelings, which is why he never had any problem with the NCAA. That’s just the way he was. He was the ultimate competitor.”
Staff writers Kelly Parsons contributed to this report.