Steve Spurrier used to be the Bull Gator.
Now I'm afraid he's just the full-of-bull Gator.
In the hearts and souls of many University of Florida football fans, the iconic Spurrier may have just gone from revered Gator to reviled traitor.
To many followers of Gator Nation, he may have gone from Fun 'N' Gun to fun and done.
Everybody believed it was Gator enemy Lane Kiffin who snubbed UF Superman Tim Tebow on the All-Southeastern Conference preseason team, but on Friday at SEC Media Days we shockingly found out it was Gator hero Stephen Orr Spurrier.
Do you buy Spurrier's long and winding explanation on how Tebow got omitted from his All-SEC ballot?
I wish I did, but I don't.
Spurrier might as well have been Richard Nixon up at the dais Friday telling Gator Nation, "I'm not a crook. ..... It was Haldeman and Ehrlichman who filled out my All-SEC ballot."
Actually, Spurrier blamed his Tebow-less ballot on football operations manager Scooter Libby, er, Jamie Speronis -- the culprit who apparently filled out the sheet for him. Spurrier says he carelessly signed off on it without really studying the ballot and wasn't aware of it until reporters began making a big deal of the mysterious Tebow snub this week at Media Days.
"I didn't fill the sheet out," Spurrier said. " ..... Our director of operations (Speronis) filled it out and brought it in to me one day. I looked at it quickly and said that's fine and signed off on it."
Then, after reading in Thursday morning's newspaper that one coach didn't vote for Tebow, Spurrier thought to himself, "Who was that?" He says he then called Speronis and said, "Certainly, we had Tim Tebow as the first-team QB, didn't we?
"There was a little pause," Spurrier went on. "That's when I said, 'Why in the world didn't you put Tim Tebow on there?' He (Speronis) said he already had 10 Gators on there, and I said that wasn't a good reason.
"I'll take the blame," Spurrier said. " ..... Tim Tebow is not only the best quarterback in this league, he's the best in the country. I'm embarrassed about what happened."
Sorry, but this story has more holes in it than South Carolina's offensive line. Spurrier says he only briefly glanced at the ballot and noticed a couple of positions -- defensive end and receiver -- before he signed off. Come on. Anybody who knows Spurrier knows there is one position he would have looked at first and foremost -- quarterback.
Hard to believe a Heisman-winning quarterback at Florida wouldn't notice the omission of another Heisman-winning quarterback at Florida. Hard to believe there would be 10 Gators on the Spurrier-Speronis ballot, but the greatest Gator of all-time wouldn't be on there.
You want to know what I think? I think Spurrier signed off on Snead and thought nothing of it. The ballot was secret so who would know?
But when reporters started asking every coach here if they voted for Tebow and every coach said yes then Spurrier was painted into a corner. He had no choice but to come clean Friday. That's when he announced he called the SEC office and recast his vote in favor of Tebow, who is now the unanimous preseason All-SEC choice.
SEC officials should have told Spurrier to take a hike. Fill out you own ballot like you're supposed to, buster, or take your medicine like a man.
It's up to everybody to believe what they want to believe. Like I said, I desperately want to believe Spurrier because I want to remember him as he was a dozen years ago; not as he was Friday.
I want to remember as the bold, dashing figure who cockily carved a captivating swath across the college football landscape. Not the uncertain, apologetic figure who is only able to makes waves in college football because of a messed-up ballot for a preseason all-conference team. Give me the old Spurrier, who would have stood by his vote even if he knew he was wrong. He would have defiantly stood up at the dais Friday with that cocksure Spur-Dog grin on his face and said defiantly, "Doggone right it was me who didn't vote for Tebow. Snead beat him head-to-head last year, why wouldn't I vote Snead first-team?"
Instead, Spurrier was falling all over himself apologizing. He apologized to Tebow. He apologized for some of brash, arrogant comments he made when he first started out in the coaching profession. I'm surprised he didn't apologize to Bob Griese for beating him out in the 1966 Heisman race. I don't know about you, but I want to remember Spurrier as The Ol' Ballcoach; not an old ballcoach. I don't want to hear him admit to things like he admitted to Friday when he said, "I'm just a 7-6 sort of coach right now." Or when he said his assistant coaches can pretty much "recruit without me." Or, most embarrassing of all, when he said he doesn't even vote for himself when asked to fill out a coaching poll.
We learned two things at SEC Media Days this week:
The legend of Tim Tebow keeps getting bigger and bigger.
The legend of Steve Spurrier keeps getting smaller and smaller.
Read Mike Bianchi's blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/openmike and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times