Steve Spurrier winning at football, life

"I don't know why more coaches don't do that," Spurrier said. "I told Jeremy, 'Your plane's going to fly right over me here in Columbia. Why don't you drop in and scoop me up?'"

On his way to winning six SEC championships at Florida, Spurrier changed the way football was played in the SEC. He also turned his news conferences and booster club speaking engagements into reality TV before there was reality TV. Entering his 10th season at South Carolina, he still doesn't have a filter.

"He would say things and I would go, 'Oh my gosh, he can't say that.' I'd go back around and say, 'What he really meant was this,' trying to take the edge off," Jerri said. "And then after a while, I'd just say, 'No, he meant every bit of it.'"

Even some of Spurrier's perceived fiercest rivals never viewed his needling as anything other than Spurrier just being himself.

"A lot of people always thought that Steve and I didn't get along," said former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, whose Vols were a frequent target of some of Spurrier's most enduring barbs.

"The truth is that I consider him a friend. Our wives were extremely close, and I always admired that he did things the right way. He didn't cheat. He's a good guy. He really is. Until you put a camera or microphone in front of him."

Those who know Spurrier best insist the whole Head Ball Coach persona really isn't a put-on.

"He gets a bad rap because he tells it like it is," said PGA golfer and good friend Chris DiMarco. "People want coaches to tell the truth and be honest, and then when he does, they chop him down for it. I love his candor. It's one of the many things I love about him. He has no problem stepping up and telling it like it is. If you don't like it, too bad."

Spurrier has outlasted an entire generation of coaches, many of whom weren't always fond of his willingness to mock the old-school way of doing things. But now, there's a whole new generation of coaches out there, and many of them revere the fact that the Head Ball Coach still has his fastball.

"I used to idolize him and wanted to be like him, and I guess I still do in a certain way," said Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, who also dons a visor on the sideline. "I think it's refreshing that you see a guy who has seen it all, been through all the battles and has remained true to himself. He is who he is, and he's comfortable with that."

Spurrier's penchant for irritating, as Jerri refers to it, is almost as legendary as his penchant for calling just the right "ball play" at just the right time.

Most recently, Spurrier has drawn the ire of Alabama fans for suggesting that Saban should be winning at the rate he's winning at with all the blue-chip recruits he rakes in every year.

Spurrier, who says he and Saban are friends and that Saban knows it's all just a bunch of talk, doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. Over any of it.

"In the offseason, why can't it be a little lighter? It's not life or death," Spurrier said. "I try to have a little fun, but all of my comments are true. I don't lie. If they get mad at me for saying something that isn't true, then tap me on my shoulder and say, 'That isn't true.'"

And nobody is spared, especially on the golf course.

Stoops and Spurrier were playing at Whistling Straits just after the PGA Championship was held there in 2004, and former Chicago Bears All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher was a part of their foursome.

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