If you were naming the two most influential head coaches in SEC football history, Bear Bryant and Steve Spurrier would be right there at the top of the list.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that they rank 1-2 in terms of all-time SEC wins. Bryant is No. 1, but Spurrier has closed the gap.
Could the Head Ball Coach make a run at Bryant’s record? It’s a pretty gaudy number, indeed: 159.
It’s hard to fathom that anybody will ever break Bryant’s record of 159 SEC wins. First of all, what coach is going to survive long enough in this league to win that many games? Now, a 10-year run is an eternity. But even if a coach were to last 20 years in the SEC, he still would not get to 159 wins if he averaged seven wins a year. Even if he lasted 25 years, he wouldn’t get there averaging six wins a year. The Bear set a dizzying standard, for sure. That said, Spurrier enters the 2013 season with 122 SEC wins. Like Bryant, he has coached at two different SEC schools. Bryant won 22 games in eight seasons at Kentucky and 137 games in 25 seasons at Alabama. Spurrier won 87 games in 12 seasons at Florida, and he’s won 35 games in eight seasons at South Carolina. Spurrier, who will turn 69 in April, insists that he’s not going to coach long enough to catch Bryant. “If I wanted to go after those records, I would have stayed at Florida,” Spurrier quipped. Nonetheless, anybody who really knows Spurrier knows that he’s not going to walk away as long he’s still winning big and the Gamecocks are regular contenders in the East race. He’s serious about winning an SEC championship and genuinely thinks he can do it at South Carolina before heading to the golf course full time (and making his playing partners putt out every single putt -- even the two-footers). But to get there, Spurrier would almost certainly have to coach at least six more years to have a chance. Even then, he’d have to average a little more than six wins a year to get there. The game-changer could be if the SEC goes to nine conference games beginning in 2016. Spurrier may be the last coach who has any hope of catching Bryant. Even with all the national championships Nick Saban has racked up, he’s sitting at 71 SEC wins. If Saban, who turns 62 in October, coached 12 more years and averaged seven wins per year, he’d still fall short. Mark Richt has 69 SEC wins and Les Miles 49 SEC wins. So unless the Head Ball Coach has something to say about it, 159 may truly be an untouchable number in the SEC.