ATHENS — Steve Spurrier may be the man who indirectly caused Georgia’s change of head football coaches. If Spurrier hadn’t chosen this year to retire at South Carolina, and had the Gamecocks not zeroed in on Kirby Smart as the replacement, then who knows whether Georgia fires Mark Richt in order to hire Smart.
Spurrier has no real way of knowing that himself. He just knew that it was time to hang it up, and watched from afar as Georgia made its own change.
“I’m not shocked at a lot of things that happen,” Spurrier said in an interview. “Georgia has been very good. But maybe not as great as their fans think they should be. Nine, 10 wins almost every year. I think they want that 11, 12, 13 now. So it’s one of those jobs where the expectations are higher than at most schools. So I could sort understand it.
“Although I’m glad Mark got the job at Miami. Maybe he can get them back to where they used to be. Time will tell.”
Spurrier may have been a longtime antagonist of Georgia, both in his days at Florida and South Carolina, but from all appearances he always had a good relationship with Richt. After he took the Miami job, Spurrier called Richt to congratulate him, and put in a good word for his former South Carolina assistants looking for work.
“That was obviously one reason I stepped down in the middle of the (season), is maybe the new coach can turn it around, sorta save the guys and (a) bunch of them would still be here coaching. But it didn’t work out that way.”
As for Smart, Spurrier recalled going against his defenses twice. The first time, in 2009, Smart and Alabama shut down Spurrier’s offense, winning 20-6 in Tuscaloosa.
But the next year the Gamecocks pulled off the upset, beating the top-ranked Crimson Tide, 35-21.
“Stephen Garcia had the best game of his career against Alabama,” Spurrier said, beginning to laugh. “Yeah, he hit 17 out of 20 against them that day here, in 2010. It was one of those days we played pretty close to perfect. Had a couple bad plays but scored five touchdowns in about eight or nine possessions. That was pretty good against Alabama. And somehow or another stopped them a good bit.”
Five years later Spurrier is retired, after becoming the winning-est coach in South Carolina football history. Smart has three more national championship rings, and is Georgia’s new head coach.
“He’s got a track record,” Spurrier said. “He’s been very good on defense.”