‘The Believer’ documentary: How Spurrier became Spurrier

dcloninger@thestate.comJuly 16, 2014 

— Hall of Famer, winningest coach at two SEC schools, master of the news conference.

And future movie star.

Steve Spurrier will take his turn in ESPN and the SEC Network’s “SEC Storied” series at 8 p.m. on Aug. 27 in a documentary titled, “The Believer.” The film covers Spurrier’s career as a player and coach, featuring interviews with his former players and his family, and addresses why and how Spurrier became Spurrier.

“It was a documentary they wanted to put together,” Spurrier said on Tuesday at SEC Media Days. “They spent a lot of time with my family, wife, kids, grandkids and so forth, and a lot of former players. So, hopefully, it will turn out OK.”

The trailer was released on Wednesday, a 90-second burst of Spurrier playing and coaching at Florida, Duke and South Carolina. The visor-tossing, the grin and the trophies are all well represented.

ESPN and the SEC had been discussing a Spurrier film, and once ESPN’s acclaimed “30 For 30” series began, it gained traction. A country music star provided an assist.

“There had been some talk of doing a Spurrier documentary, and when Kenny got involved, it kind of just fell together,” said Andy Billman, a producer of ESPN Films.

Kenny Chesney and Spurrier have been friends since 2007, when Chesney was performing at Colonial Life Arena and invited Spurrier on stage. Chesney, a football fan and longtime supporter of Tennessee, received a No. 7 USC jersey from Spurrier when Chesney played Williams-Brice Stadium in 2013 (No. 7 not for Jadeveon Clowney, but because it was Chesney’s number in high school).

Chesney, who also helped with a 2011 film called “The Boys of Fall” about football players across all levels, pitched his support as co-executive producer and the idea took off. “SEC Storied” covered topics such as Herschel Walker and “The Play That Changed College Football,” a recap of the 1992 SEC Championship Game in which Spurrier and his Gators were well represented, and decided to include Spurrier’s own film in its next wave.

The trailer shows Spurrier’s daughter, Amy Spurrier Moody, leafing through a scrapbook of her dad at Williams-Brice. Former Gamecock receiver Moe Brown took a video in June when several former Spurrier players congregated for the film – Andy Boyd, Shane Matthews and Noah Brindise are all shown in it.

“The one thing that we’ve noticed that we like is you’re generating new fans,” Billman said. “I think it also keeps generating stories that you want to be rehashed again. I think it’s kind of a win-win for everybody. We want to tell great stories in different ways.”

While YouTube can call up almost any game in Spurrier’s long history, “The Believer” tells the story behind the sidelines. It covers Spurrier as a man with the SEC in his blood, growing up in Tennessee, playing in the league and coaching in it.

Billman promised that all fans, not just USC or Florida supporters, will want to see it.

“It’s on that track of ‘The Book of Manning (detailing Archie, Peyton and Eli as a first family of football),’ ” BIllman said. “You’re going to get to know Steve Spurrier behind the curtain. His wife, his family, how he became Spurrier. You’re going to learn how Spurrier became Steve Spurrier.”

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