Steve Spurrier may be retired from coaching, but he's still good for a debatably below-the-belt jab at one of his former rivals.
Spurrier's coaching chops are nothing to be scoffed at—he won six SEC titles and a national championship at Florida—but he might be an even better trash talker, and he showed Wednesday that he hasn't let retirement slow him down. The Head Ball Coach was speaking at the Independence Bowl Kickoff Luncheon in Shreveport, La. when he just couldn't help himself from taking a shot at LSU.
In a discussion about the importance of recruiting, Spurrier said: "You can have good ballplayers and still not win football games—all you LSU fans know about that.”
Naturally, we started researching our favorite Steve Spurrier quotes and realized we all deserve a definitive ranking of Spurrier's best digs. Creating any sort of objective rating—because this type of rating is obviously 100 percent objective—requires a scale. We'll rank Spurrier's disses from 1-5 on three criteria: Savagery (essentially a measure of aggressiveness), Cleverness (if it's obvious, it's not scoring high) and Humor (this one's self-explanatory).
12. "Kentucky has a heck of a punter. I know that."
Savagery: 2.5, Cleverness: 2.5, Humor: 2, Total: 7
This one came after Spurrier's South Carolina beat up on Kentucky, 54-3, in 2011. Kentucky's punter Ryan Tydlacka did punt nine times for 398 yards, and it appears Spurrier was being genuine in his praise. That's why this doesn't rank higher on the list, but it's still not often you hear a coach compliment a team's punter after a blowout.
11. "There are no Vanderbilts in the NFL."
Savagery: 3.5, Cleverness: 1.5, Humor: 2, Total: 7
This is indicative of a hilarious thing Spurrier does: he finds a way to take a totally unrelated question and answer it with a totally unnecessary insult. This time, Spurrier, who went 12-20 as a coach in the NFL, was answering a question as to the lack of easy wins in the NFL. Poor Vandy.
10. "I saw a story saying Jim Haslett comes in at 4:30 every morning. That's not doing him much good."
Savagery: 4.5, Cleverness: 1, Humor 1.5, Total: 7
This is kind of just mean. Spurrier was speaking at his 2002 farewell press conference at Florida, and once again found a way to bring an unsuspecting victim into the fray. This time it was then-Saints coach Jim Haslett, who was coming off a 7-9 season. Spurrier would be hired by the Washington Redskins just 10 days later and would soon find out that coaching in the NFL isn't so easy. Still, love the matter-of-factness.
9. "You can have good ballplayers and still not win football games — all you LSU fans know about that.”
Savagery: 4, Cleverness: 1, Humor: 2.5, Total: 7.5
You know you're married to the savagery game when you're 72 years old, have been retired for two years and interpret a public speaking engagement as an invitation to roast. Spurrier absolutely owned LSU when he was at Florida, going 11-1 against the Tigers, but he lost all four of his matchups against them while at South Carolina.
8. "There are people in Knoxville and Fayetteville still doing cartwheels over going 7-6."
Savagery: 4, Cleverness: 1.5, Humor: 2, Total: 7.5
Here we get our first glimpse into one of Spurrier's favorite pastimes: making fun of the University of Tennessee. Of course, no one in either of those two SEC football-crazed towns is happy with going 7-6, and Spurrier knows that. I just find it pretty funny that Spurrier associates happiness with cartwheels.
7. "I didn't know Jadeveon's car could go that fast. He doesn't have a pretty car like those FSU guys used to drive."
Savagery: 3, Cleverness: 3, Humor: 2, Total: 8.0
Spurrier was referring to the time Clowney got a speeding ticket for going roughly 40 mph over the speed limit. What's so great about this gag is that it's twofold: first, he's coming at Clowney's car before he turns his attention to Florida State. That's some 300-level trash talk.
6. "You know what FSU stands for, don't you? Free Shoes University."
Savagery: 3, Cleverness: 2.5, Humor: 3, Total: 8.5
More Florida State hate! In 1993, it emerged that a Florida State booster had bought more than $6,000 worth of shoes for players (Florida State would win the national championship that season). Never one to miss an opportunity to crack a sarcastic joke, Spurrier attached this nickname to his in-state rival, and it stuck.
5. "In 12 years at Florida, I don't think we ever signed a kid from the state of Alabama...Of course, we found out later that the scholarship they were giving out at Alabama were worth a whole lot more than ours"
Savagery: 4, Cleverness: 3, Humor: 2, Total: 9
This is a personal favorite because he finds a way to play the beautifully petty holier-than-thou card. Spurrier is referring to the 1999 scandal involving Albert Means, which was a pretty ugly ordeal altogether, and this jab did not age well: Spurrier's South Carolina program was smacked with sanctions in 2012 for its own set of recruiting violations.
4. "I know why Peyton came back for his senior year. He wanted to be a three-time star of the Citrus Bowl."
Savagery: 4.5, Cleverness: 2, Humor: 3, Total: 9.5
The first thing to note about this one is it was true—Manning had led his Tennessee Volunteers to back-to-back Citrus Bowl victories, and he was named the game's MVP in 1997. Peyton really wasn't the target here; Tennesse was, as it so often is for Spurrier. Tennessee reached the Orange Bowl in Peyton's senior year, losing only one regular season game. Who'd they lose to? You guessed it...Spurrier's Florida. Head Ball Coach backs it up.
3. "I don't know. I sort of always like playing [Georgia] that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended."
Savagery: 5, Cleverness: 4, Humor: 3, Total: 12
In one sentence, Spurrier manages to indict the very fabric of a fellow SEC blue-blood. The best part of this one for me is the "sort of," because it conveys a casual cool that is a prerequisite for delivering a cutting insult. Spurrier likes to contrast other programs' disciplinary issues with his own programs' model-citizen behavior, a strategy that certainly took a hit after the 2012 sanctions.
2. "You can't spell Citrus without the U-T."
Savagery: 5, Cleverness: 4.5, Humor: 5, Total: 14.5
About as good as a diss can get. His Tennessee-Peyton-Citrus bowl running joke hits every time, partly because the Citrus Bowl has a lame-sounding name. Spurrier would actually coach in two Citrus Bowls over a three year span, so I'd counter with "you can't spell Citrus without the U-S-C."
1. On a fire at an Auburn library that destroyed 20 books: "The real tragedy was that 15 hadn't been colored yet."
Savagery: 5, Cleverness: 5, Humor: 5, Total: 15
It's really just a perfect jab all-around. It's unbelievably pointed and is certain to piss off any person associated with Auburn. It's remarkably clever (whose mind goes to coloring books when they hear of a fire in a library?) And it's just downright hilarious. What results is a perfect score and a deserving winner.