GAINESVILLE, Fla. — During a live radio appearance on “Gator Talk” on Thursday night, Steve Spurrier discussed his relationship with Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain now that the legendary Head Ball Coach is back on campus.
Spurrier, who this summer returned to Florida as an ambassador and consultant, answered a question on the matter from a fan during the live show inside a packed Piesanos dining room.
He reiterated that he has no interest in interfering in coaching matters. Instead, it has been McElwain reaching out to him for his input from time to time.
“I guess my title is ambassador and consultant. I’m eligible to answer questions, make a few suggestions. I’m not coaching anything. I don’t want to coach anybody. I’ve done that,” Spurrier said. “But Coach McElwain, he’s not a guy with a big ego, so he’ll come and ask me, ‘How did you do this? How did you do that?’
“So I hang around him a little bit and watch some practices — not all of them. And (offensive coordinator Doug) Nussmeier, I’m really impressed with the entire staff. They know what they’re doing, and the defensive coaches, I think, are really good.”
McElwain has said on multiple occasions this month that he values Spurrier’s presence and his perspective and even had him watch film from the team’s first preseason scrimmage and give his thoughts.
Spurrier, whose 1996 Florida team won the program’s first national championship, said Thursday, though, that he’s not just back to hang around the football program.
He’s already been by to talk to women’s soccer coach Becky Burleigh and watch her team a little bit, and he gave a speech at a Gators basketball clinic earlier Thursday.
“I gave a free speech today to the basketball coaches. So that’s what I do. I’ve got those two qualities they’re looking for now — cheap and available,” Spurrier quipped with his typical sense of humor.
That was a theme throughout the evening.
He was also asked what similarities he sees between his and McElwain’s offensive philosophies.
“I haven’t watched enough to tell you. … But I think he wants to score a lot of points. So we’re similar in that,” he said.
Later, he went back and expounded on that point.
“We’re pretty much alike in wanting to run the ball and throw the ball and big plays and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “Obviously it’s a little different, his background and mine, but as far as wanting to mix it up and throw it and run it, we’re pretty similar I think in that attitude.”
Spurrier, who retired in the middle of last fall during his 11th season as South Carolina’s head coach, seems genuinely at home being back in Gainesville.
He talked about how he walks through a part of the stadium most every day on his way to work out and he looks up at the signage commemorating the SEC and national championships won by his and Urban Meyer’s teams.
He recalls how important the home field advantage at The Swamp was in those days and hopes that the fans will give McElwain the same support.
“Let’s give (coach McElwain) the support that you guys gave me and coach Meyer,” he said Thursday night. “I remember Urban Meyer said it and I said it, too, we’ve got the best home field advantage here in the country. Let’s make sure we get back to that. I’m not so sure the last several years or whatever, we got away from it a little bit, but let’s get back to it real quick for coach McElwain and his teams. Let’s give those guys that same opportunity.”
Ryan Young is a Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.