Meyer vs. Spurrier
Coaching has never been in short demand in Gainesville, at least not since 1990, when the Ole Ball Coach first took the reins for the University of Florida football program. For the next 11 years, the Gators would be among the elite programs in the country, largely thanks to the visor-crowned king of the Swamp. When Spurrier announced he would be trying his hand at the professional level with the Washington Redskins, despite moderate success the Gators had under coaches Charley Pell and Galen Hall throughout the 80′s, it was feared perhaps the most feared program in the SEC might return to the status quo. Though Florida had fielded great teams in the past, particularly the 1984 squad which may have vied for the National Championship were it not for probationary issues, topping the pecking order was still less of a revered tradition and more of a celebrated occasion. For three seasons, these concerns seemed justified, as 2002-2004 under the direction of Spurrier’s successor Ron Zook was an era of mediocrity and underachievement. Despite Zook’s obvious talent as a recruiter, his on-field product never delivered the success in terms of Wins and Losses the Gator program had grown accustomed to. Fate finally changed following Zook’s departure as former Utah head coach Urban Meyer first donned the Florida headset fresh of a BCS win with the Utes. Now 2 BCS National Championships later, it seems as if the Ben Hill Griffin faithful have finally forgotten their once-fearless leader, coaching out his final days across the SEC East in Columbia, South Carolina. So who is the most storied coach in Florida football history?Beyond the statistics, Meyer and Spurrier are remarkably similar, each instituting an offensive system unique to their own team, as Spurrier’s Fun ‘N Gun days drove SEC defenses to the brink of sanity while Meyer’s own take on the spread offense has produced a Heisman winning QB and another first overall draft pick. Both also drove opposing fans crazy, Spurrier for his quick witted tongue and Meyer for his unconditional love-affair with Tim Tebow. Perhaps the central common denominator, however is winning. In Spurrier’s 12 seasons as Florida head coach, he won 6 SEC Championships, including 4 in 5 years from ’91-’96, not to mention the school’s first ever National Championship in ’96. He also averaged more than 10 wins per season, notching at least 9 W’s in every season as coach. Meanwhile, through 5 seasons, Meyer has already won the SEC 3 times, keeping pace with Spurrier’s first half-decade, and bringing home 2 National Championships in a 3 season span. Furthermore, Meyer boasts the highest winning percentage of a coach with his tenure in the history of FBS play. At only 46, it’s likely Meyer goes on to become synonymous with Gator football, much like Spurrier was in the 90′s, only without the NFL aspirations and significantly less of the ego. Any way you slice it, Meyer and Spurrier, Spurrier and Meyer, it’s been nearly 2 decades worth of incredibly coached Gator teams with hardware to show for it. The only real losers in this debate are the other 11 teams in the Southeastern Conference.