Spurrier expects Meyer back after few months

By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Steve Spurrier hates giving advice. Still, he had a few ideas for Florida coach Urban Meyer on how to handle the stress of leading one of the country’s top football programs.

“He needs to have some outside interests,” Spurrier said Monday. “Anybody that feels burn out at their job, that’s the facts of life.”

Meyer sent shock waves through college football Saturday, announcing his resignation because of health concerns. Meyer backed off that a day later, saying he would take an indefinite leave of absence with an eye toward returning to Florida’s sidelines in time for the 2010 season.

Few know the pressure cooker of Florida football as well as Spurrier, who was the school’s first Heisman Trophy winner 1966 and led the Gators to their first national championship in 1996.

But Spurrier always maintained a separation. He didn’t go for late-night game-planning and escaped to the golf course — his passion — during the offseason.

These days, the 64-year-old Spurrier looks trim and fit with a daily workout regimen that’s kept him feeling good.

Meyer would serve himself and Florida’s program if he found a similar outlet, Spurrier said.

“He probably needs more family vacations and things like that,” Spurrier said. “He’s got a place on the lake not too far from Gainesville. But I would imagine that when he’s out on the lake he’s checking with his coaches and using that cell phone.”

“He stays on top of everything, from what I understand,” Spurrier said.

Spurrier was concerned when he learned of Meyer’s resignation, then relieved Sunday with the 45-year-old’s reversal. Meyer said during Sunday’s news conference he’d give Spurrier a call, although the ball coach said that hadn’t happened yet.

“He seemed to be very exhausted, it appeared in that press conference yesterday,” Spurrier said.

Spurrier stunned Gator fans after the 2001 season, resigning to chase an NFL dream. Spurrier wasn’t burnt out, just ready for a new challenge. Two dismal seasons with the Washington Redskins changed his mind about the pros and a humbler, energized Spurrier sought a college job.

Spurrier recently received a contract extension through 2013 and has repeatedly said South Carolina will be his final coaching job.

“It’s still fun what we do here,” he said. “We still believing that we can put together a little bit stronger team than we have and make a run at the Southeastern Conference.”

Spurrier expected Meyer to need only three or four months away from the game to feel refreshed. As a Gator alum, Spurrier wants Meyer to keep bringing success to Florida — except for the one game a year against the Gamecocks.

Spurrier and the Gamecocks returned to preparations for the Papajohns.com Bowl after a holiday break. The team leaves for Birmingham, Ala., on Tuesday and faces Connecticut on Saturday.

Spurrier hopes Meyer finds the outlet that eases stress and lets him coach a long, long time.

“We wish him the best,” Spurrier said. “He’s a good man. He’s a heck of a coach as we all know. His record, not only at Florida, but at Utah and Bowling Green, is about the best they’ve ever had at those schools.”

Received 12/28/09 05:22 pm ET