Did a field goal prevent Steve Spurrier from coaching at UNC?


Throughout a coaching career that spanned nearly four decades, Steve Spurrier was often a rival of UNC. Whether it was during his stints with Duke (1980-82 as an assistant, 1987-89 as head coach) or his time at South Carolina (2005-15), Spurrier found Tar Heel fans cheering against him more regularly than they cheered for him.

At one point, though, timing almost made the Head Ball Coach a realistic candidate for the North Carolina coaching job.

It was 2004. Spurrier had resigned as the Washington Redskins’ head coach the previous December, and then-UNC head coach John Bunting was facing heat after the Heels started 3-4, headed toward missing a bowl game for the third straight season.

“Coaching is pretty much when you’re available and a job’s open,” Spurrier said in a Tuesday interview with The David Glenn Show. “I had talked to a big booster at North Carolina, actually, and he said, ‘Would you be interested in this job?’ I said, ‘Of course, I would. I do want to coach again.’”

So, what happened?

“Their field-goal kicker made, I want to say, a 55-yarder to beat Miami,” Spurrier stated. “North Carolina had a winning season, so they kept their coach.”

It wasn’t a 55-yarder, but Tar Heel kicker Connor Barth drilled a 42-yard field goal to propel UNC to a 31-28 victory over the No. 4 Hurricanes. That 2004 team finished 6-6 with an appearance in Continental Tire Bowl, saving Bunting’s job.

South Carolina hired Spurrier at the end of the 2004 season, and he produced three consecutive 11-win seasons in Columbia from 2011-13. North Carolina fired Bunting during the 2006 campaign.

In his interview with The David Glenn Show, Spurrier also talked about the 1989 “Scoreboard Game” in Chapel Hill and his relationship with Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. Click below to hear the full interview: