Steve Spurrier winning at football, life

Stoops had absolutely butchered a hole and was trying to gather himself.

"I was down a cliff and in the high grass and was lucky, really, to even get it up on the green," Stoops recalled.

As he's walking away to the next hole, he grumbles that he had a 10.

Without batting an eye, Spurrier turns to him and says, "Actually, Bobby, I think it was an 11."

Virginia Tech associate head coach Shane Beamer, who worked under Spurrier for four years at South Carolina before joining his father in Blacksburg, made the mistake of shooting a 79 (one of his best rounds ever) soon after being hired by Spurrier.

Sure enough, Beamer was in Spurrier's group that next day. He double-bogeyed the first hole and shanked his tee shot on No. 2 into the water.

"I hadn't even walked off the second tee box yet, and he's already kicking me out of the bet," Beamer said.

And the last thing you ever want to do under Spurrier is even think about shaving strokes or, worse, improve your lie.

"He's a man of integrity," Beamer said. "If you make a 12, you're writing down a 12. It's the same thing in recruiting. He tells his coaches, 'If you cheat, I'm going to fire you.' That's always registered with me because you hear stories of other coaches saying that if you're not cheating in recruiting, then you're not working hard enough."

• • •

Fans aren't off limits, either, for Spurrier.

He was in Panama City Beach, Florida, in the spring of 1998 speaking at a function. Afterward, he and his longtime football operations director, Jamie Speronis, were walking up the beach toward a man who was sporting an orange Tennessee Vols shirt.

The Vols, who were a top-10 program at the time, couldn't get over the hump against the Gators and had lost five straight, similar to South Carolina's recent dominance of Clemson.

So as the man approaches, Spurrier pipes up and says, "How them Vols gonna do this season?"

The fan, amazingly enough, didn't recognize Spurrier. He held up his index finger and said defiantly, "National champs."

Even today, Spurrier gets a kick out of that exchange.

"I'll be damned if he wasn't right," Spurrier said. "They did win it that year."

How many coaches would engage a rival team's fan, walking down a beach? Then again, how many coaches would've dared to take on the South Carolina job?

When Spurrier decided to get back into college coaching after two forgettable seasons in the NFL with the Washington Redskins, he was advised more than once to be patient. He didn't coach anywhere during the 2004 season, but soon settled on South Carolina even though those close to him urged him to sit tight, telling him that other higher-profile opportunities (LSU, in particular) were likely to come open.

Spurrier had made up his mind, though. He was going to South Carolina, which had gone a combined 0-12 in the previous three seasons against its four biggest rivals -- Clemson, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.

"I always let him decide where he was going to go coach. I never got involved," Jerri said.

But when Spurrier came to her that November in 2004 and announced that they were going to South Carolina, she looked at him with a blank stare.

"Steve, you realize we're going to have to play Florida every year, Georgia every year and Tennessee every year, don't you?" she asked.

"Yep, that's why we're going," Spurrier said.

Spurrier has gone a combined 13-3 over the past four seasons against those four teams.

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