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Spurrier humble in speech to alma mater

Beneath the visor-slinging persona of South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier is a humble man.

Remembering his roots, which run deep and wide, isn’t an obligation. The South Carolina football coach wanted to help out the Science Hill High School program by speaking at a Hilltopper Grid-Iron Club fundraiser Thursday night at the Science Hill auditorium.

But before that, Spurrier also wanted to look in on 97-year-old Reba Williams, who taught him in elementary school in Newport. Before he arrived in Johnson City for his 45th high school reunion, he visited Williams and seven or eight of his fifth-grade classmates for a 52-year reunion.

Several have mentioned through the years how Spurrier has made a habit of remembering an elementary school teacher in a thoughtful — and generous — fashion. Spurrier shrugs, seemingly heading off any pat on the back at the pass.

In fact, during his 30-minute talk in the auditorium, Spurrier spoke as much about the hiccups as he did about the accomplishments of his illustrious playing and coaching career.

He didn’t discuss winning the Heisman Trophy in 1966 at Florida, but did describe — in some detail — quarterbacking John McKay’s 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers to an 0-14 season.

He recalled there being 13 players in the huddle once and the coaches sending a player to the huddle instructed to, “Get Steve to tell two dummies to get off the field.”

Spurrier then joked that when he got to the line of scrimmage and looked around the Bucs only had five players left out there.

Spurrier intends to tuck another feather or two in his visor. He likes what he sees from new defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, said his fourth South Carolina team will feature his deepest roster and expects middle linebacke Jasper Brinkley to be completely recovered from a season-ending knee injury.

“I hope to coach four or five more years,” Spurrier said, “and I hope to coach South Carolina to an SEC championship.”