Sports

Spurrier keeping up with the masses

ATLANTA | Jerri Spurrier figured her technologically challenged husband would be the last sports celebrity with his very own Web site. "He can work the phone - and that's about it," Steve Spurrier's wife said. "He doesn't know how to use a computer. And he doesn't want to know."

But that won't keep South Carolina's head ball coach from going where so many like him in college football have gone in recent years: to cyberspace, which might never be the same after the launch of www.SpurrierHBC.com.

"Over the years I've been approached about doing one of these, but I just never got around to it," Spurrier said. "But this is a chance to go straight to the fans and show them some things about football they probably haven't seen before. I think it's going to be fun."

And profitable. Spurrier won't be his own webmaster or post his own blogs; that responsibility lies on Greenville-based Champion Communications, which is charging about $10 a month to read the latest musings and other goodies from one of college football's most opinionated personalities. The company is shooting for 20,000 subscribers in the first 90 days.

"Whether you like him or you don't like him, people are always interested in what coach Spurrier has to say," said Champion president Lawson Holland, who himself was a football coach for 28 years - nine with Spurrier - before going into private business. "We're cautious, but we're very optimistic."

Spurrier joins the growing list of college football coaches who've taken the Internet plunge. In the SEC, Florida's Urban Meyer, Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer and Arkansas's Houston Nutt already have their own sites. Georgia's Mark Richt is considering it but hasn't pulled the trigger, according to UGA spokesman Claude Felton.

And later this year, Alabama fans will be able to log on to coachsaban.net, the official Internet home of Nick Saban.So why do these coaches, who already put in long hours recruiting and preparing for Saturdays, invest precious time and energy into getting their names and faces onto the Internet?

Part of the motivation is that the sites give them the ability to go straight to their fans without the filter of the traditional media.

In some cases, the sites can generate revenue, as has been the case for Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, Southern Cal's Pete Carroll and Ohio State's Jim Tressel. Spurrier said that more than half of the proceeds from his site will go to South Carolina's athletics department.

The sites can also serve as a clearinghouse for information about summer camps and other news about the program. Then there's the obvious reason coaches get into the Web site business.

"It's all about recruiting," said Bill Little, the assistant athletics director at Texas.To a generation of football players who have grown up on the Internet, this is just the logical next step in the recruiting process.

"We get so much mail that you never get around to opening it," said Tyler King, a senior fullback from Buford, Ga. "[Coaches' sites are] a better way to find out what you need to know. It just makes sense. If you're trying to get younger players, you have to know that they are on the Internet all the time. They are comfortable surfing for the information they want."

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