By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist
The resignation of Steve Spurrier
There have been two huge stories involving the Florida Gators over the last couple of weeks. The first was the resignation of Steve Spurrier which, though I knew it would happen one day, I never thought in a million years that it would be in the middle of a season. I will say, however, that to me his reasoning was legit and unselfish. Spurrier was very open and honest with a lot of the guys there, and he told lots of them that he did not know how much longer he’d be coaching.
Back in 1999, Coach Spurrier and Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens (Florida’s running backs coach at the time) came to my house in Tampa. One of the questions I asked Spurrier then was whether he was going to be at Florida for the next four years. I remember the answer as clear as day. “Shannon, I don’t know. You know? I hope I am. If I’m still livin’, if I don’t get fired, or if someone comes along and gives me a bunch of money. Well, I’m not going to get fired ‘cause we win a lot of ball games and that would be stupid to let me go.”
I have to admit, he was always honest. From the first day I met him, he never lied to me or anyone else around him. If you wanted the truth, he’d damn sure give it to you. During my years at Florida, I was known as the consummate shit talker. Honestly, I got a lot of that from Coach Spurrier; he taught me how to be confident in myself and my abilities. He was the originator of swag. The football world is going to miss him. I know he said that this was only a resignation, not a retirement … but in my opinion, he’s done. He’s 70 and all he really wants to do is play golf and hang out with his awesome wife, Jerri.
Spurrier was the reason I chose Florida. If it wasn’t for him, I would have donned the Maize and Blue for the University of Michigan. For every Shannon Snell story, there are hundreds more just like mine. So here’s to you, coach: Thanks for changing my life.
The suspension of Will Grier
I can’t tell how hard it is to stomach this one, especially on the heels of a tough stretch of games for this Gators football team. Just like everyone else, I went through a range of emotions upon hearing the news of the suspension. The issue I still can’t seems to wrap my head around is not Grier taking the substance in question but rather him not speaking with the training staff or nutritionist about it.
The first day a student-athlete joins the University of Florida – or any school, for that matter – it is hammered into their brain that absolutely no supplement or medicine – over-the-counter or otherwise – should be used without proper permission from the UAA (University Athletic Association.) The NCAA can’t be blamed for the length in this situation because their guidelines are very black and white on the violations. The blame of this is squarely placed on Grier. He shouldn’t have taken anything without that approval.
Some will argue and counter with excuses, but the simple fact is that he made a mistake and has to pay. He did show incredible character for standing up in front of his teammates, coaches and media and admitting his mistake as part of an apology. I don’t think there is any need to tear this young man down. I remember when I was 20 years old. Trust me, I did some pretty dumb things myself. I was grateful that my friends, family and teammates loved me and were there for me. That’s what Grier needs in his life. What he doesn’t need is fans jumping on his back telling him that he’s a failure and cost them a good season. It’s not always all about football, folks.
The return of Treon Harris
No doubt about it: Harris is a good, capable quarterback as he showed against LSU. He has a different skill set than Grier, but that does not mean he’s a bad quarterback. Even playing as a freshman in a Will Muschamp offense last season, he was able to lead Florida to SEC victories.
However, with Harris, head coach Jim McElwain will have to be more selective with the play calling. I think the running game needs to be much more important and effective moving forward with Harris behind center; his ability to make passes on the run as a scrambling, outside-the-pocket passer needs to be utilized.
LSU is an incredibly tough place to play, especially at night, and yet the Gators almost pulled off another shocker. There was no shame for Florida in losing that game, despite my stance that there is no such thing as “moral victories.” In this case, I will say that I am proud of the coaching staff and all the players for handling a mountain of adversity and still putting forth a tremendous effort in such a hostile environment.
McElwain really deserves credit for the job he has done so far. If you would have told me six months ago that the Gators would be 6-1 and the favorites to win the SEC East … I’d have taken that in a second. “No way,” I would’ve said.
My favorite and most hated rival looms on the horizon after the bye week. Georgia: I hate these guys. I can’t stand them. Oh, and when I played, I never lost to them. As if the World Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party wasn’t big enough, this game is even more important in 2015 as the outcome will likely determine which team goes to Atlanta to represent the East in the SEC Championship Game.
Florida should have a tremendous upper hand due to the fact that Nick Chubb, Georgia’s leading rusher, is out for the rest of the season. While the Bulldogs do not appear to be playing as well as they have in recent years, they still have the ability to go out there and beat the Gators. Like any good rivalry game, the records don’t matter. Absolutely anything can happen.
If Florida goes out and plays the way that it has for most of the season, winning this game should not be a problem. Like Georgia, it has a full two weeks to get prepared for the biggest game of the season. There is no doubt that the Gators will be more than ready for the Bulldogs’ bite.
A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell joined OnlyGators.com in 2012 as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team. He is now in his fourth year sharing his musings and will do so through the 2015 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 of those contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.