Spurrier’s 1966 Georgia Lesson–Crush Your Enemies

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Excuse me, Stevie, I didn’t mean to step on your skirt”

On a gusty November 5 day in 1966, the upstart Florida Gator team dreamed of winning Florida’s first SEC football championship. Since the inception of the SEC in 1932, Florida had never won a league championship. But in 1966, the team was poised to do just that.

The 1966 Florida team was undefeated (7-0), ranked 7th in the nation, and led by an exceptional quarterback, Steve Spurrier.

Spurrier was having a great year. He would go on to win the Heisman Trophy, an award given annually to the best player in college football. Based on its highly potent offense, Florida was heavily favored to defeat the unranked Georgia Bulldogs (6-1). However, the Bulldogs, led by young, third-year coach, Vince Dooley, had other ideas.

By 1966, Georgia had already won four SEC championships. Georgia and their fans didn’t appreciate the idea of a bottom-feeding, mediocre team like Florida winning one at their expense.

Dooley, a defensive genius, came up with a gameplan. He planned for his defense to blitz Spurrier and hit him often. Meanwhile, the Georgia defensive backs would cover the tight-end, a frequent target for dump-off passes when the rush got to Spurrier.

At first, Florida appeared to be the better team. Spurrier led Florida on an 80-yard opening drive that culminated in a touchdown. Later, in the first half Florida added a field goal and the Gators led the game 10-3 at halftime.

But in the second half, Georgia’s defense stopped the Florida offense. The Georgia defensive line, led by 19-year old sophomore defensive tackle Bill Stanfill, pressured Spurrier giving him little time to pass. Stanfill and the other Georgia defenders teed off  time after time, often after Spurrier delivered his pass. Remember this was 1966, a time before the modern rules were developed to prevent defensive linemen from putting late hits on a quarterback.

Early in the fourth quarter, on a blitz, Spurrier attempted to dump the ball to his tight end, but Georgia defenders had the play covered. Spurrier’s pass was intercepted and returned for a Georgia touchdown, giving Georgia a 17-10 lead, a lead they never relinquished.

After the game, Spurrier explained, “They were rushing pretty hard. Since I didn’t’ have a chance to throw deep, we were trying to flip out to the tight end for short yardage. [They] always had him covered.”

Dooley, a great leader, sensed that a close defeat of this upstart Florida team was not enough. Georgia tacked on a fourth quarter field goal for a ten point lead. Instead of courteously taking a knee as time expired, Dooley allowed his offense to score a final touchdown (with just six second left) to turn a close game into what appeared on the scoreboard to be a rout, 27-10.

It seemed that the Georgia follows Robert Greene’s philosophy on the laws of power. Greene’s 16th law states:

More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation: The enemy will recover, and will seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.

Spurrier learned first hand that Robert Greene’s philosophy is the Georgia way.

However, Georgia attempt to destroy Florida’s temerity did not end by just running up the score at the end of the 1966 game.

Georgia’s players also taunted Spurrier after the game. Bill Stanfill was especially vocal. He called it, “a fun day.” “Steve didn’t like you to get close or touch him. He’d get up complaining, ‘Late hit, late hit!’ I said, ‘Excuse me, Stevie, I didn’t mean to step on your skirt.'”

Stanfill bragged, “Even if he released the ball, his butt was going on the ground.” Then he added, “And he didn’t like it either. We pounded him. Not only me, but the whole team.”

Stanfill still talks about his game against Steve Spurrier. On September 4, 2008, UGADawgsBlog.com posted the following quote obtained in an interview of Stanfill:

DH: What’s your favorite memory of those Georgia-Florida rivalry games?

BS: We beat (Steve) Spurrier when they were undefeated the year he won the Heisman in ’66. I’ll always remember that game. I wasn’t supposed to play in that game. I had a neck injury, but I miraculously felt better before the game. I wound up playing and had a pretty fair game and kept Stevie on his butt most of the afternoon.

Afterwards, the Georgia fans mocked Spurrier, the Heisman winner, with in a poem written by Harold Walker. Walker’s poem was widely published and quoted by Georgia fans:

The Greatest of All

Each bowl was there with its special courier,
For a post-game chat with Mr. Spurrier;
But how can you connect with wingback Trapp,
While spending the afternoon in Stanfill’s lap?
The Cairo Catamount left the Gators a wreck,
To them he was one large pain-in-the-neck.

In 1966, Georgia went on to win its fifth SEC title in 1966 (shared with Alabama).

However, Georgia and Dooley did not forget that the 1966 Florida team had the audacity to challenge for an SEC championship. They also did not forget Greene’s Law 16th Law.

1968, is a good example. Leading 48-0, Coach Dooley allowed Stanfill to finish the game at quarterback. Dooley also ordered his field goal unit onto the field for a needless field goal as time expired to run the score up to 51 points. The final score was a humiliating 51-0.

After that, Florida returned to its then customary mediocrity. The Gators would not win an untainted SEC championship until decades later when Spurrier returned as its head ball coach.

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