Steve Spurrier transitions from villain to hero, even though he’s not trying to

BATON ROUGE, La. – I was at our church parish fair in 1996 huddled around a TV with dozens of other LSU fans who were more interested in watching the Tigers and top-ranked Florida than playing carnival games.

We would have been better off spending a small fortune trying to knock down the weighted milk bottles to win a giant stuffed bear. Florida scored 2:02 into the game and never looked back. They piled on, embarrassing LSU – as the Gators did to so many teams during those days – 56-13.

In 1999, my dad had season tickets in the southeast corner of Tiger Stadium. That’s right next to where the visiting fans are stationed. We sat through a downpour, both literal and figurative, as the Gators scored on the second play of the game and cruised to a 31-10 win in the rain.

LSU improbably won the SEC championship in 2001 by upsetting Tennessee in a rematch of a game they lost in Knoxville earlier that season. Nick Saban would be down an SEC title if he had to tussle with the Gators in Atlanta. That year, Florida walloped LSU 44-15 in Death Valley, and it wasn’t that close.

The rematch wouldn’t have been close, either.

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During his 12 seasons in Gainesville, Steve Spurrier was 11-1 against LSU. In 1993, he handed LSU its worst loss in program history, 58-3. Heck, the one was such a big deal that The Baton Rouge Advocate headline the next morning dubbed it “The Greatest.” Posters of that front page from 1997 still hang in restaurants, bar rooms and offices all over Baton Rouge. Sure, it was the first time LSU had beaten a top-ranked team, but LSU also had won a national title.

Greater than Billy Cannon’s Halloween run against Ole Miss in 1959? Greater than that night the clock stopped in 1972? Greater than the 1988 “Earthquake Game”?

It felt like it. And it wasn’t just because it was Florida. It was him.

It was Darth Visor.

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