By DUGAN ARNETT
HOOVER, Ala. – South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier said Thursday that he’s not sorry he left the University of Florida to take the head coaching position with the NFL’s Washington Redskins following the 2001 college football season.
Speaking with reporters at the annual SEC Football Media Days, Spurrier, who spent 12 seasons at the Gators head coach and led the program to the 1996 national title, said that at that point, coaching in the NFL was something that was very important to him.
“I love Florida and I always will,” he said. “But I’d been there 12 years, and there’s something about a 10-, 12-year stay. I’d been there 12 years. At the time, I thought I wanted to coach in the NFL five or six years and that’d be about the end of it. But it’s sort of funny how you keep coaching and you feel kind of the same way you did five or six years ago.”
Spurrier, who coached two season for the Redskins, struggled at the professional level, going just 12-20 before resigning on Dec. 30, 2003.
“That was the longest I’ve ever been anywhere, those 12 years,” he said of his time at Florida. “And of course, in the back of my mind, I thought I wanted to coach in the NFL. If I had known the lifestyle of NFL coaches, I might not have even wanted to. But sometimes you’ve got to go do something and realize that this isn’t maybe what I need to do after all.”
WISHFUL THINKING: A day after Alabama coach Nick Saban called for the National Football League Players Association to tighten rules and regulations involving inappropriate contact between agents and college football players, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino called the plea “wishful thinking” and insisted there are only so many things college football coaches can worry about.
“I think we have to do something my mom told me a long time ago, and that’s worry about what we can control,” Petrino said.
Four SEC schools have been implicated in possible agent-related violations in recent weeks, and the topic gained national attention after Alabama coach Nick Saban on Wednesday likened unethical agents to “pimps.”
INSURANCE POLICIES: While agent talk dominated much of Wednesday’s portion of SEC Media Days, Thursday’s focus shifted, at times, to the growing practice of promising college players taking out insurance policies to protect themselves in the case of injury.
The number of policies appears to have grown significantly since Matt Leinart took out a well-publicized policy after deciding to return to Southern California for his senior season, and at least two players present Thursday — Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett and Georgia receiver A.J. Green — said they’ve sought and received insurance. The details of Green and Mallett’s particular policies weren’t discussed, but both described their decision as a smart option.
“My family and coach (Mark) Richt and a lot of people in my circle, we came to the agreement that I would get that,” Green said. “I think it’s a great decision that I made. I do have the potential to play in the NFL one day, (this would help me) protect myself.”
Added Mallett, “The big thing was talking to compliance, and filling out some paperwork. I didn’t really have much to do with it besides signing my name and filling out some forms.”
HAVING HIS KICKS IN HOOVER: While his specialist brethren were busy living their traditionally anonymous lives, Drew Butler was enjoying the limelight.
Told this week that he’s the first specialist ever brought to the SEC’s annual media days festivities, the Georgia junior said he’s hoping his presence at the event — which usually features standout offensive and defensive players — will help open doors for fellow specialists.
“I hope I’m representing the specialists well,” joked Butler, who was named the Ray Guy Award winner as the nation’s top punter last season. “I definitely never (thought I’d get invited to this). It was a surprise to me, but I’m enjoying it.”