The SEC Network will premiere a documentary about Steve Spurrier, titled “The Believer,” at 8 p.m. Wednesday, just the segue Gamecocks fans need before Thursday’s season-opening game between No. 9 South Carolina and No. 21 Texas A&M.
The 90-minute film, the brainchild of longtime Spurrier friend and country music star Kenny Chesney, was filmed over the summer and takes a look at Spurrier’s career, and the man behind the visor.
The documentary has everything fans of Duke, Florida, USC and Spurrier in general could want – football highlights, Spurrier’s childhood and interviews with several friends, family members, players and opposing coaches. Much of it filmed at Williams-Brice Stadium, it’s narrated by Chesney, who also produced it along with Shaun Silva.
Instead of a retelling of Spurrier’s history in the SEC, it touches on what makes Spurrier Spurrier – his confidence, which he channeled into a belief that he could and would win. That, in turn, was passed to his teams and inspired the film’s title.
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“You have to believe you have a good chance of achieving that,” Spurrier says in the film.
It starts with Spurrier and Chesney speaking at Spurrier’s beach house and how they became friends – spoiler alert, USC fans: there are two Clemson barbs in the first 2 minutes and 30 seconds – and then proceeds to Johnson City, Tenn., where Spurrier grew up. Touching on how Spurrier’s father, a pastor and youth coach, wanted to win and not just compete, the documentary weaves in Spurrier’s brother, Graham, speaking about their childhood and how Spurrier became the best athlete in the area.
Newspaper clippings and high-school exploits become flashes from 1960s Florida game film and the start of his coaching career after 10 years in the NFL.
“Now I’m out there, and I got a wife and three kids, I thought maybe coaching would be something that would be fun, and maybe something I could be pretty good at,” Spurrier says.
The time at Florida, Georgia Tech, Duke and then the Tampa Bay Bandits is flush with pictures, video and remembrances, leading to Spurrier’s return to Duke as head coach. Clarkston Hines, a former Blue Devils wide receiver whose son Caleb Hines walked on at USC this year, talks about the first play of Spurrier’s Duke career (no hints, but fans won’t be surprised) and the picture of Spurrier on the cover of the Duke media guide is a treat.
That leads to his championship stint at Florida, prefaced by a stunning revelation of his dream job at the time, and how he again convinced a program that hadn’t won very much that titles would come. With his daughter, Amy Moody, leafing through scrapbooks, a highlight film of Spurrier’s Gator days plays, leading to his crowning moment as a national champion coach.
The film takes a turn, describing his two years with the Washington Redskins and how he, for the first time, wasn’t in control of his team. The quick exit and return to the college game is explained by Steve Spurrier Jr., who says, “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything. And I think he’s a believer in that.”
Chesney previews Spurrier’s run with the Gamecocks as the coach channeling his father – “It’s those who are in need that are the most willing to be led, and are the most willing to believe in a believer.”
Connor Shaw and Scott Spurrier speak on how the view of USC from the outside has changed and then the documentary shifts to a reunion in Columbia of some of Spurrier’s former players. That leads to the conclusion centering around Spurrier’s family life, and how he always made sure to not be consumed by his job.
The purpose of the film was to show every side of Spurrier and it does. It’s sure to be a staple of the SEC Network, especially as the Gamecocks start their season on Thursday, making Friday a perfect opportunity to watch “The Believer” if you missed the first time – or to re-watch it.