Think about this line from The Godfather: "Mister Corleone is Johnny's Godfather. That is a very religious, sacred, close relationship." ...And so it was - that relationship between Steve Spurrier and his crop of quarterbacks at Florida during his time as Gators Head Coach. You know the names. Matthews, Wuerffel, Johnson, Palmer, and Grossman, among others. The 1990s were one long Swamp Party, watching those footballs fly through the sky. The aforementioned gunslingers had the golden arms that drove those Spurrier-fueled "Fun 'n Gun" offenses to 122 victories (.817 winning percentage) during his tenure in Gainesville. The results, in what was UF's coming of age as a program, were like a dream for everyone who bled orange and blue. However, when you're the QB for a coach that is a former Heisman winner at his alma mater, it's sort of like being the understudy to an uber-successful father who's handing over the family business to the next generation. The expectations are understandably high and you WILL be micromanaged. Make no mistake! From the moment the Head Ball Coach stepped back on the turf he would soon dub "The Swamp," he groomed, mentored, and yes, occasionally made life difficult for his slew of signal-callers. Things were far from always silky smooth between quarterback and coach. Spurrier demanded a lot. Doug Johnson (Gators QB 1997-1999) once said about playing for Spurrier, "you have no idea what tough is." But the record books tell a story of undeniable success. UF won six SEC Titles, one National Title, and a Heisman Trophy between 1991 and 2000. The harder Spurrier came down on his kids, the more most seemed to respond. It might not have always been easy taking snaps for a Spurrier-coached team. But in the end, playing for the HBC was an offer they couldn't refuse.
Tom James is a 2-time Edward R. Murrow Award-winning sportscaster, who does play-by-play & studio work for the ESPN Family of Networks (including ESPN Wide World of Sports, ESPN3, college football, basketball, & a wide array of other sports), CBS Sports Network, Lax Sports Network, & Pro Watercross. Tom also hosts and produces sports documentaries & is part of the weekly regionally syndicated college football radio show, "Southern Pigskin Tonight."