STEVE Spurrier is in his comfort zone in Atlanta.
In five appearances there as head football coach for the University of Florida, his teams had a 4-1 record, frequently using the victories as a springboard to a top-five finish nationally. The last time Spurrier appeared in Atlanta — Dec. 4, 2000, in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game — his Gators thrashed Auburn 28-6.
Maybe the self-proclaimed “Ball Coach” will talk about that when he gives the keynote address at the President's Breakfast on Tuesday morning at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Maybe he'll talk about what it's like to work for notoriously impatient Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. No doubt he'll talk about a lot of things.
In his presentation, “Winners and Losers,” the 57-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner is scheduled to shares his ideas and experiences regarding success — how a winner and a loser talks, acts, and receives the inevitable results.
But he might veer off in a different direction.
He has been known to do that. Controversy is not a stranger to the energetic, dynamic, creative Spurrier.
For example, when his Gators continually relegated the Tennessee Volunteers to the No. 2 SEC bowl tie-in (the former Citrus Bowl), Spurrier quipped, “You can't spell Citrus without UT” — a catch phrase that was repeated thousands of times in Gator Country and should have been copyrighted.
Then there was former Georgia coach Ray Goff. Spurrier routinely referred to him as Ray Goof.
And there was no one he enjoyed tweaking more than the Florida State Seminoles. The final barb came when he charged that they had intentionally tried to injure Gators running back Earnest Graham. That led to the declaration of Florida State athletic director Dave Hart that Spurrier needed to be spanked and sent to his room.
It didn't take him long to ruffle some feathers in the NFL. In his first game, in the preseason American Bowl in Japan, he drew the ire of San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Mariucci when he used his first-string offensive line in the second half as the Redskins routed the 49ers 38-7. Alas, the Redskins went on to finish 7-9, missing the playoffs.
When Spurrier was in the SEC, he was known as Steve Superior, and also as Darth Visor — a reference to his persona and his habit of wearing a visor on the sideline.
“I may talk a little more confidently than some coaches … but I certainly don't ever to try to insult or brag,” he once said.
His list of achievements includes the best win total in history for a major-college coach over his first 12 seasons and reaching 100 career victories faster than any major-college coach in the 20th century.
He was 122-27-1 in his 12 years as head coach at Florida, including the 1996 national championship. Spurrier was named to the National Collegiate Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1986.