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Spurrier invites Meyer to tee it up

Steve Spurrier hits a tee shot on the par three No. 8 Thursday during the annual media golf tournament with Gamecocks coaches and staff at the University Golf Club at Cobblestone Park in Blythewood. Spurrier played golf with The State's Bob Gillespie, Spurs & Feathers' Dexter Hudson  and 107.5 The Game's Michael Haney.
Steve Spurrier hits a tee shot on the par three No. 8 Thursday during the annual media golf tournament with Gamecocks coaches and staff at the University Golf Club at Cobblestone Park in Blythewood. Spurrier played golf with The State's Bob Gillespie, Spurs & Feathers' Dexter Hudson and 107.5 The Game's Michael Haney.

If South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier were to offer Florida's Urban Meyer some friendly advice, it would be to turn off his cell phone on his next vacation - and join Spurrier's foursome at the next charity golf event.

A day after Meyer announced he was taking a leave of absence after the Sugar Bowl to deal with health issues, Spurrier expressed concern for Meyer on Monday and said he believes the Gators' coach needs some outside interests.

Meyer, 45, who originally planned to resign from Florida, said he has experienced chest pains for several years but declined to discuss the cause of them. Meyer, who has won two national championships in five years at Florida, said he expects to be back for the start of next season.

Spurrier, who won a national title and six SEC titles in 12 seasons at Florida, said Meyer appeared "very exhausted" at a Sugar Bowl news conference Sunday. Spurrier believes taking three to four months off will do Meyer good.

"We wish him the best," Spurrier said. "He's a good person. He's a good man. He's a heck of a coach, as we all know."

In 25 years as a head coach, the 64-year-old Spurrier has tried to keep the job from consuming him. He likes to golf during the offseason and takes annual trips to the Bahamas and Lake Tahoe, Calif.

"I read something a while back that no matter what profession you're in, you need outside interests," Spurrier said. "Of course, I've always enjoyed golf in the offseason. ... Some people think I play all the time. I don't play all the time. But I do play about five months a year."

Spurrier also exercises regularly. He ran until his fourth knee surgery at 50, and now he rides a stationary bike or walks on a treadmill.

And Spurrier never has believed that logging 18-hour days were the secret to coaching success.

"I've never been a real late-night type guy. I've always believed, really, it's what you can teach your players is what's most important," Spurrier said. "Some coaches, if they don't stay there 'til midnight and come in about six in the morning, they don't feel like they're working hard."

Spurrier said Meyer has a lake house outside Gainesville but wondered whether he uses it as an escape.

"I would imagine when he's out on the lake, he's probably checking with his coaches or using that cell phone," Spurrier said. "He stays on top of everything, from what I understand."

USC fans are familiar with a coach whose health issues proved fatal.

Gamecocks coach Joe Morrison was 51 when he died of a heart attack on Feb. 5, 1989. Morrison, who had undergone surgery four years earlier to clear a blocked artery, collapsed in the shower after playing racquetball at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Former team doctor Robert Peele, who was called to the stadium and tried to resuscitate Morrison, believes Morrison's job stress and lifestyle contributed to his death. Morrison was a longtime smoker.

"He was a professional football player of another era, where they burned the midnight oil and developed those habits. And (Morrison) continued into coaching with some of those habits," said Peele, who was at USC from 1983-2002.

Peele is skeptical whether Meyer will be able to keep his stress in check when he returns to the sideline.

"What can you be in Tuscaloosa with two minutes to go and you're trying to score to win?" Peele said. "What kind of stress is that?"

Given the demands on a major-college coach, Peele said coaches deserve the seven-figure salaries that have become the norm.

"They're so well-paid, you just hope they're able ultimately to enjoy their lives and not die prematurely," he said.

Spurrier said every coach's situation and health history are unique.

"Some guys sort of get old at 50, and some can stay young until 80," Spurrier said. "Look at Joe Paterno. There's a young 80-year-old guy there. He still knows what's going on."

USC interim offensive line coach Andy Boyd, who played under Spurrier, said Spurrier is "definitely" a young 64.

"Coach's spirit, with what we're trying to do here, I don't think anyone can question that," Boyd said.

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