By BUDDY MARTIN
On the same day this week when it was announced that Steve Spurrier had become only the fourth person to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Game as both player and coach he was jeered.
You think that bothered him?
As he walked on the field for the national championship game coin toss at Raymond James Stadium just before fellow honorary captain Archie Manning, Spurrier was greeted by a round of hearty boos from Clemson fans. And he sneered back.
“Tell ’em I didn’t mind at all and it didn’t hurt my feelings one bit,” Spurrier told me Wednesday. “In fact, the louder the better. That was a loud one. As long as they’re loud!”
Then he laughed and said, “Some of them were the same fans who were lined up in the hotel lobby asking for a picture to be made with them.”
Booing? It’s a sign of respect for Spurrier.
“If they’d have been kicking my butt up there every year those people would have been clapping,” he mused.
It has been an embarrassment of riches for the Head Ball Coach this past nine months.
There aren’t many times lately in this unprecedented year of curtain calls and victory laps that Steve Spurrier has been shown anything but love and adulation.
Starting with his exit at South Carolina and arrival at his alma mater where he already had a statue, Spurrier has been treated like royalty.
Even before he hit the ground as “ambassador/consultant,” Spurrier said it was the greatest honor when the arena where he played and coached was dubbed “Steve Spurrier-Florida Field.”
Seems like the HBC has been on one continuous eight-month victory lap. But on Monday night he was treated like the villain again by Clemson fans. So you might just say the booing was another badge of honor.
“I guess maybe those Clemson finds remembered that we beat ’em five years in a row when we were at South Carolina,” he said.
He has been very busy reeling in the honors, like becoming the only living member of the Hall of Fame honored as a player and coach.
“I’m very honored,” Spurrier said of the Hall of Fame honor as a coach. “I guess what it says is that most people who are successful in college as players don’t usually go into coaching.”
He had known that two of the other three honored by the College Football as both player and coach — Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd and Tennessee’s Bowden Wyatt — but not the third: Amos Alonzo Stagg.
“I never even knew he was a player,” Spurrier said of Stagg.
This wasn’t the first time he’s been asked to do a coin flip in a game where Alabama was involved. He was honored at the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta and was part of on-field pre-game ceremonies as well.
“I told somebody the other day that Alabama fans are sick of seeing me!” he said. “They’re probably saying, “What’s that dude doing here again!?’ Because I’ve been at their last three games.”
Like everyone else, Spurrier praised the way the two teams competed in the national championship. “Heckua game,” he said. “Deshaun Watson should have won the Heisman. And Clemson’s defense was outstanding.”
And by the way, although he’s a big SEC fan, he was quick to credit the ACC and Dabo Swinney, with whom he has since become good friends. He might have even been rooting a little for his old rival.
“Normally we pull for all the SEC teams,” he said. “And Alabama has won so many. I think most people in the country are OK if somebody else wins.”
So when those Clemson fans took the trouble to boo Spurrier, perhaps they should have been a little kinder and gentler to someone who was happy to see their coach and their team win. On the other hand, Steve Spurrier thanks you for the boos.