"It was okay," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier told NFL Network about potential No. 1 Draft pick Jadeveon Clowney's work ethic. "He wasn't [noted workout legend and former Gamecocks teammate] Marcus Lattimore. You know, every player is a little different. But when the ball's snapped, he's got an explosion like you've never seen before."
This is partly a continuation of Spurrier's comments about Clowney during the 2013 season, which included pokes about conditioning, communication, meeting hype, and following through. He also defended his star, including once his confusion about Clowney missing a game due to injury developed into a national story. It was a complicated public management, which seemed to point to Spurrier's acceptance of one of the sport's greatest-ever athletes deciding to be merely excellent.
Because Spurrier's gently called out the former No. 1 national recruit several times before, it makes sense to think of this latest comment as more of the same. But we could also think of Clowney as a man after Spurrier's own heart, couldn't we?
In football's alternate reality, which praises the ability to GENERATE EFFORT above all other personal traits (such as skill, experience, creativity, wisdom, and efficiency), Spurrier's long stood out as the coach who does just enough to be one of the all-time greats, and no more.
He works hard, but Saban hard? Gruden hard? Of course not. Why would anyone choose to live like that?
Clowney the football player has a long way to go before he's as good as Spurrier the coach (and maybe even Spurrier the quarterback, a Heisman-winner). And if Clowney can become as hard a worker as Lattimore, he'll tear apart the NFL for 15 years. But even if he never meets his potential, whether due to injuries or effort or otherwise, he's still going to obliterate some professionals like there's nothing to it -- just not as many.
The job will get done to some degree, whether it's enhanced by obsession or not.
So, just for fun (perhaps Spurrier's favorite word), a collection of some of the coach's life advice, which leans much more toward getting it right the first time than grinding away for endless hours. In all things.
It looks better to fans if the head coach is thought to be perpetually drawing X's and O's. In 2002, the Washington Redskins brought in Steve Spurrier, whose laid-back approach to coaching was worlds apart from the amped-up style employed by his predecessor Marty Schottenheimer. "If it takes six hours to get a good plan ready, why do you need 26 hours?" asked Spurrier, who saw nothing wrong with golfing on off-days and getting to work at a leisurely 7:30 a.m. Spurrier lasted two undistinguished seasons before the Skins, tired of losing, rehired Joe Gibbs-who, in his first stint coaching the team, removed all clocks from the practice facility's walls.
He was asked recently if having two healthy, talented quarterbacks in Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson made him sleep easier during the offseason?
"You mean when I was in Ireland playing golf or when I was in the Bahamas," Spurrier said with a laugh.
Staff management (2012 SEC Media Days):
It's very convenient and really it's not a stressful job I have. I know some of these coaches tell you how stressful their job is. We have excellent assistant coaches. These guys can go recruit, get guys committed. Coach, call this guy, he's going to commit to us. Give me the information on him. Just an excellent group of guys that can coach their positions and so forth. It's not a stressful job.
Paul Bear Bryant once said, "I ain't never had much fun. I ain't never been two inches away from a football. Other guys go fishing ... or hunting or golfing, and all I want to do is be alone, studying how not to lose."
Stephen Orr Spurrier once said: "We're gonna take the boogie boards out and catch us some waves."
"I look back and can say that was a mistake," Spurrier said of his tenure in Washington. "The lifestyle of an NFL coach is more time-consuming with football than I enjoy doing. I enjoy an offseason, playing golf, getting away from it - this, that and the other. Some guys love being consumed with football 12 months of the year. I like to get consumed four or five months during the season. And then a little more here and there."
And the word we got is that Georgia started talking about trying to beat Florida year round. You know, saying, "We are going to dedicate spring football to beating Florida, we are going to do this to beat Florida, we are going to lift weights to beat Florida." Then the game would roll around and they wouldn't play very well. I think they've changed their ways now.
Q. We've seen these pictures on TV and whatever, and all these [coaches at other schools] sitting around the big conference table all [Signing Day]. I don't envision you doing that?
COACH SPURRIER: No.
Q. How do you spend the day recruiting? What do you do on this day?
COACH SPURRIER: Well, I have my usual workout at about 10:30 to 11:30, quarter to 12:00, something like that. Then came back and checked on the faxes. I think all of them were in, except maybe one that we weren't sure of. That was about it. Made a few calls here and there, called a few of the guys that came with us, so that's about what I do.
Spurrier once told how the late San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh once said he wished he had taken up golf in order to avoid burnout. "I think he retired at 62 or something like that," Spurrier said. "(Walsh) wished he'd gotten away from it in the offseason."
The coach smiled as he summed up: "I think there's a lot of sense in that."