The fall of Steve Spurrier

“We find that princes who have thought more of their pleasures than of arms have lost their states.” —Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Niccolo Machiavelli penned the most useful book ever; The Prince provides wonderful details for management that still apply today. Reading through it gives us the chance to understand what we should do to be successful, and to diagnose why leaders fail. One part points out why Tommy Tuberville was fired and why Steve Spurrier has declined—they became enamored with their own pleasure. They became lazy, or at least complacent. For Tuberville it was the duck hunting. For Spurrier it is golf and now the Preakness.

Steve Spurrier was playing golf in Birmingham at the Regions Charity event earlier this week, and on Friday when Paul Finebaum called him about Spurrier’s Florida Gator coach Urban Meyer comments, the South Carolina coach was in Baltimore to attend the Preakness.

The Preakness? We all know his obsessive golfing, but now his indulgence includes horse racing?

Even Nick Saban’s indulgence in a movie appearance furthers a goal—the promotion of the coach’s public stature. Does any of Spurrier’s indulgences further anything but the coach’s own pleasure? And that is the root of Spurrier’s decline. Spurrier was too lazy in Washington to do the work to win. Now that the SEC is filled with coaches of the quality of Urban Meyer, Mark Richt and Nick Saban, the South Carolina coach cannot squeak by on talent alone. It requires hard work.

Compare Meyer’s and Saban’s work ethic with Spurrier. Then consider this analysis from Machiavelli.

“Philopoemen, the leader of the Achaeans, has been praised by the historians for, among other things, having never in peacetime thought of anything else except military strategy.”

Substitute the war talk with football. Does Saban think of anything but football? What about Meyer? Focus on the goal, and you might attain it. Focus on pleasure, and you become lazy like Spurrier and Tuberville.

We can say that South Carolina has inferior talent to Florida, but for right now, it has inferior coaching too.