GAINESVILLE, Fla. — James Bates is doing God’s work these days.
The former Gators linebacker is a painter, a college football analyst and — most importantly — a chronicler of Steve Spurrier, his coach at Florida from 1993-1996.
On Sept. 1, Bates and his long-time friend Tom Nunn launched a YouTube series called ‘Head Ball Coach Stories’ to share some of Spurrier’s classic moments over the years.
What happens after an autograph is signed? The Head Ball Coach has his suspicions.
“It had to be done,” Bates said. “It got to the point where random people would come up to me on the street and be like, ‘Hey man, you ever heard my Spurrier story?’ But everybody has one and they’re all good because he’s so unique.”
Spurrier is known for his one-liners and jabs at other coaches and programs, but the entertainment doesn’t end when the cameras turn off. His former players still get a kick out of Spurrier to this day, and they haven’t forgotten his antics from decades earlier.
“When I get around friends and college teammates, it really does snowball,” Bates said. “Somebody will be telling a story and then another guy remembers one. It’s just so dang funny.
“You’d think they stopped when he left Florida, but just being around him on his dedication night in The Swamp, he created a few more. It’s just never ending.”
Everyone who watched Florida’s season opener saw Spurrier’s Mr. 2 Bits routine. His explanation — and misunderstanding — of the Usain Bolt celebration is priceless.
The former All-SEC linebacker decided to start filming ‘Head Ball Coach Stories’ in the summer and has released 10 videos to date. Bates doesn’t think Spurrier has tuned into any of them yet.
“He has a tougher time sitting still than I do. I don’t know that he has the patience for me and my stories,” Bates said. “They straddle the fence on honoring him and poking fun at him. That’s the way he’s made up.
“But I have so much respect for him and his family. I don’t want to offend, so I try to do the best I can to make sure they’re showing him in the right light.”
During his coaching career, Steve Spurrier would emphasize the importance of staying in shape. The proof is in the pudding!
Bates plans to continue the series and has one coming up with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.
“It’s a beauty,” he said of the video. “So much of who I am I owe to being a Florida Gator and playing for Coach Spurrier. At time when I really didn’t make a lot of great decisions, I made the best decision of my life when I came to UF.”
Bates said his favorite personal HBC story is the one told below about how Spurrier won over him and his mother in the recruiting process.
Had to save the best for last: