Both were honored at Bear Bryant Award Ceremony
Dabo Swinney and Steve Spurrier are good for college football, especially when they poke fun at each other on the rubber chicken circuit like they did Wednesday night in at the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award Ceremony in Irving, Texas.
Scott Frost, now the head coach at Nebraska, won the award after leading UCF to a perfect 14-0 record in 2017, but Swinney and Spurrier stole the show as usual.
Spurrier was in Texas receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award for his works at Duke, Florida and South Carolina, while Swinney was there as one of the finalist for the Bear Bryant Award.
When Spurrier was the head coach at South Carolina, it was not uncommon during this time of year for the two coaches to go back-and-forth at each with potshots as they made their way from one speaking engagement to another.
So Wednesday night at the Bear Bryant Award Ceremony was a throwback of sorts to those good ol’ days. Of course, like always, Spurrier got things started.
When the Ol’ Ball Coach talked about his time at South Carolina, he spoke about winning 11 games three years in a row and finishing in the top 10. Then he said, “I also beat Dabo a lot.” He quickly started laughing and said, “Sorry Dabo! I had to get that in. You’re catching up with me now and you finally are caught up with South Carolina.”
Of course it did not take Swinney long into his speech to respond. The Clemson coach, who had won the Bear Bryant Award the last two years, opened his speech by saying he must have been in a bad dream.
“I don’t remember being here last year because I had not slept in like 48 hours (after winning the national championship), but I’m wide awake tonight because I’m surrounded by a bunch of Alabama people and then I have to be here on the night Coach Spurrier is being honored,” he said jokingly. “So I am in a bad, bad dream or something going on tonight.”
Swinney, the last of the finalist to speak, made sure he got his shot in as well. All during the ceremony, the other finalists who wear visors on the sideline—Georgia’s Kirby Smart, Frost and Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn—said they wear them because of Spurrier and what he meant to the game. Swinney of course used this as an opening to take his shot at the Ol Ball Coach.
“I don’t wear a visor because of Coach Spurrier,” he said laughing. “You know Coach? There is a rule that you should know who has the mic last, okay? But I’m going to tell you, it is a good thing I love your wife Jerri because she is special and I’m going to be real nice tonight.”
Swinney, who admitted he and Spurrier are really good friends, then spoke about how Spurrier must know how to read him because he always calls him up when he needs to be lifted up, using the story from 2014 when South Carolina opened up the season against Texas A&M and got ripped apart while giving up more than 700 yards and then on Saturday Georgia pounded Clemson in the fourth quarter in Athens to blow out the Tigers.
The Clemson head coach said Spurrier left a message on his phone the next day that simply said, “Dabo, We got our butts kicked for four quarters and you only got yours kicked for one quarter. So there you go.” And that was the end of the call.
Swinney joked, “I guess that was meant to be a compliment, I don’t know.”
“I have had a lot of fun with Coach Spurrier,” Swinney continued. “We go all the way back. My claim to fame is that I sacked his punter in the SEC Championship Game, the first one in 1992. So I feel like I had a little something to do with that game.
“I love Coach Spurrier and I always have. Even though I had to compete against him, and I did not beat him much, but you know he has been a great friend. He has been a great role model so it is really an honor for me to be here tonight.”