HOOVER — The role of underdog still isn’t something that fits Steve Spurrier.
He won’t say as much, and maybe he doesn’t feel that way, but it sure seems that way based on his mannerisms and some of his comments.
Who could blame him for feeling that way? When he arrived at Florida in 1990 after having turned around the Duke football program, he started a 12-year run with the Gators that is among the most successful in college football history.
He’s one of five current coaches in the SEC who has won a national championship. At one time, he was among the highest-paid coaches in the country, only to find himself now ranked in the bottom half of the salary chart — in his league.
He moved on to the NFL for a short stint after the 2001 season.
He tired quickly of the pro game, took a year off and looked for a place to re-enter the college game. That opportunity came at South Carolina, where he is one of four coaches in the league — joining Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Ole Miss’ Houston Nutt — to have served as head coaches at more than one SEC school.
On the verge of beginning his fourth season at South Carolina, Spurrier has managed to give the Gamecocks renewed hope. But when you’ve been to the mountaintop as many times as Spurrier, three years without a return must seem an eternity.