Privately, he made a phone call to his son Scott at Charleston Southern University.
“He was definitely open to me coming to USC than staying down there,” Scott Spurrier said. “He definitely wanted me to be here.”
Scott Spurrier left Charleston Southern the following season and will be in Athens on Saturday a walk-on wide receiver when the Gamecocks play No. 13 Georgia in Sanford Stadium (5:45 p.m., ESPN2). On the opposite sideline will stand Bulldog coach Mark Richt, who just last year convinced his oldest son not to come play for him.
Jon Richt, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound quarterback, threw for more than 1,600 yards at Prince Avenue Christian Schools last year and verbally committed in February to play for Clemson.
“Growing up, he thought he was going to be a Bulldog, until about the 10th grade,” Mark Richt said. “Then I began to discuss with him some of the reasons why it would be good and some of the reasons why it might not be so good. I might have overdone it because he was pretty adamant that it would not be a good idea, and in my heart I don’t think it would be a good idea.”
Steve Spurrier enjoys having his son in Columbia, S.C., he said, but he acknowledged his situation is entirely different from Richt’s because his son has never been expected to compete for playing time.
“I think it would definitely be difficult if he was your starting quarterback,” Spurrier said. “(Scott) knows his spot. We’ve got about 10-15 really good scout team guys, and if we ever get ahead enough we’ll get them in and throw them a pass or two.”
Jon Richt, on the other hand, will head to school hoping to win a starting job.
“It would be tough on me to totally see him an unbiased way,” Mark Richt said. “I would have a hard time doing that, and it would put undue pressure on (quarterbacks coach Mike) Bobo to have the coach’s son right there.”
Imagine, Richt said, if his son had been part of last year’s hectic four-man scramble for the starting quarterback job.
“Let’s just pretend like (Matthew) Stafford was my son, and we decided to play a true freshman, and it’s Stafford and he starts throwing a lot of (interceptions) and fumbling the ball a lot, and I keep saying, ‘You know what, he’s going to get over this thing,’” Richt said. “If that’s my son, I can’t imagine how unmerciful that would have been.”
Richt has never fully trusted himself to judge his son’s talent, he said. Two years ago, when he first began to think Jon had Division I ability, he started asking around for second opinions. Last summer, he got one when Jon was offered a scholarship after a hastily arranged trip to a camp at Clemson.
“The whole idea of that summer going in was just to expose him to the competition,” Mark Richt said. “I wanted him to come out of there thinking, ‘Boy, I’ve got a long way to go, I’ve got to work very hard.’ And then he gets offered a scholarship.”
Having Jon play for the Bulldogs wouldn’t have worked for a variety of reasons, Mark Richt felt.
“I’m sure there are times when the whole team might think the head coach is an idiot,” he said. “I said, ‘Just think if your dad’s the head coach, and all your teammates are saying,he’s a whatever.’ And also if you’re the coach’s son, your teammates may not want to be around him. They might think, ‘If I step out of line, he’s going to go tell Dad.’ That could become very uncomfortable for him.”
That has never been a problem for Scott Spurrier, he said. The Gamecocks have two Spurriers on the roster, but sophomore punter Nate Spurrier (a graduate of Brookwood High School) isn’t related to the coach.
“Most people think that I’m not related to the head man either,” Scott Spurrier said. “The guys on the team treat me just like I’m one of the guys and the coaches do the same thing. It’s as if I’m just another player.”
The Spurriers often chat during an early break in practice, Scott said.
“We have this break period where we get some fluids back into us and he’ll come up to me and start talking to me,” he said. “If I dropped a couple balls, he’ll be like, ‘What happened on those? You should have been able to catch those.”
Those are conversations the Richts won’t be having because of Jon’s potential to be more than a filler on the roster.
“If he’d have been a walk-on, and I could have had him around every day, that would have been awesome,” Mark Richt said.
Fathers who have coached their quarterback sons in college football are very rare in college football history. In fact, it has only happened 19 times in the history of the game, according to research done by Colorado sports information director David Plati. Buffaloes head coach Dan Hawkins made headlines last week when he named his son Cody the team’s starting quarterback.