The Head Ball Coach celebrated his 71st birthday Wednesday and spent two hours of it with Paul Finebaum and his callers, making a guest appearance on The Paul Finebaum Show.
Spurrier, in typical fashion, had plenty of one-liners and quips, but he was also introspective and insightful about his career and numerous other college football topics. He also discussed a book he’s co-writing with Buddy Martin, which is due out this summer.
Among the most notable quotes from Spurrier's time on air:
• A caller asked about Spurrier’s relationship with the late Joe Paterno. Spurrier’s Florida Gators beat Paterno’s Penn State team in the 1998 Citrus Bowl, and Spurrier said the two coaches spent a lot of time together then and eventually became “good friends.” He then went on to defend Paterno and how his coaching tenure ended at Penn State, following news of the child sex-abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, a former Paterno assistant.
"He was treated the most unfairly of any coach ever," Spurrier said. "He had nothing to do with that scandal, nothing at all. Amazingly what they did to him was completely wrong. I hope they restore [the statue]. I heard they're having talks about having the statue back and they should do that, they really should."
• On Alabama’s national championships: “I was there speaking at their high school clinic two weeks ago. They've won 16 national championships, you know that? They claim 16. One of them was in there, they had a 9-2 record. ... They had three or four national champs back in the old days."
• But did you know that Spurrier could have been in Nick Saban's place? Spurrier discussed his conversation with then-Alabama athletic director Mal Moore in 2006 before the hiring of Saban, then coach of the NFL's Miami Dolphins: “Mal Moore called me. I had just taken the job at South Carolina and had just been there one year. I told him, ‘I’m committed to these guys and this is where I’m going to finish up. I really get a thrill from doing things that have never been done before.' ... I told Mal Moore, ‘I said listen, you don’t want me there. I’m not going to come there. Hang with Coach Saban.’ He had already turned it down and said, ‘I’m staying at Miami.’ I said, ‘Go back to him. I think he'd rather be at Alabama than at Miami,’ because I had a two-year run in the pros also, and sure enough, Mal went back and convinced him he needed to come to Alabama.”
Spurrier was asked if he has wondered, after seeing what Saban has accomplished, if it could have been him: "No, I really don't. What he has done there is wonderful. I told him, ‘You have another seven or eight years in you at Alabama, unless you lose three games in one season.’ He said, ‘Oh man, if we lose three in a season, I don’t know what’s going to happen around here.’”
• A Twitter user asked Spurrier when and why he started wearing the visor: "Basically one reason: Because nobody else was," Spurrier said. "I always thought doing things a little different would help a person be successful.”
• On interviewing for the LSU job: “I got an interview there in ’86 or ’87. I didn’t get invited back for a second interview. Mike Archer was the interim coach and they ended up hiring him. They brought a bunch of us in. Mike Shanahan interviewed back then.”
• On the media: “If a sportswriter's going to pick on a coach, he probably shouldn't pick on one that's winning.”
• On when he realized it was time to resign at South Carolina: “We beat Central Florida at home [on Sept. 26, 2015] but we were behind at halftime. They were 0-12 this year. They weren’t a very good team at all. I sort of came in at halftime and looked at the mirror and said, ‘Man, I’ve lost it. I don’t think I can coach much anymore. I can't get these guys to play. We’re struggling.’ We came back and won ... but I called the [athletic director, Ray Tanner] and said, 'I'll try to get through the year but I'm finished. I’ve lost whatever I’ve got.’ Then we got clobbered the next two games and I told him, ‘I really believe the team would be better off without me. My 'give a damn' was gone, my zest for the game. ... I thought it was better [for the team] for me to go then. I didn't want to do the farewell tour. I didn't want to be a distraction, I didn’t want the attention. ... I wish I could have lasted the season, but I wish I would have resigned, retired, quit after the Miami game [in the 2014 Independence Bowl], but I wasn’t smart enough to do that.”
• Spurrier campaigned for Oklahoma's athletic director to get a pay increase after pondering the Sooners’ recent multi-sport success: “Golly, Joe Castiglione, their A.D., he needs a raise out there at Oklahoma because he’s done a fantastic job.”
• Finebaum recalled a time he witnessed Spurrier reading off statistics to Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder when Spurrier was head coach. “Yeah, it wasn't as much fun as I thought it was going to be,” Spurrier said of his two-season NFL stint, during which he went 12-20. Finebaum said it looked as though Snyder, despite owning the team, didn’t understand a thing Spurrier was telling him. Spurrier responded with a laugh: “That could have been so."
• On calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol in 2007: "I was at an event mixed with blacks and whites, and it was a leadership group of some type. I said, 'I wish our state would take the Confederate flag down because it is offensive. It is offensive to a group of people. We don't need it. Put it in a museum somewhere or what have you.’ It took a very unfortunate, cowardly act by a guy to kill those nine people down in Charleston for Governor [Nikki] Haley to go ahead and make sure our state did get rid of it from the capitol there. I'm all for doing what's right and what's fair for everyone. It's a shame maybe we didn't do it earlier."
• On his most recent score during a round at Augusta National Golf Club: "I think 81 is the best I've shot there in the last three or four years. The day I shot 81, Paul, I made nine pars and nine bogeys, so it's easy to remember. I hit it in the water on 12 and 16. But I dropped and knocked it in there about a foot or two, somehow or another. I don't usually do that but that's the way it happened. So I got away with making bogeys after hitting it in the water. If Jordan [Spieth] had dropped it and knocked it in there and made a 4 instead of a 7 (at the 12th hole in the final round of this year's Masters), he might have worn the green jacket."
• In the final segment, Spurrier was presented with a birthday cake. He said: “I can't wait until I get to 75, because then I can shoot my age.”