Coach Steve Spurrier was named as part of the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class in January, and he will be officially inducted during the 60th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Dec. 5 at the New York Hilton Midtown. He will be honored this Saturday with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute, presented by Fidelity Investments, when Duke hosts Pittsburgh at 12:20 p.m. ET on ESPN3. He was also honored by Florida earlier this year when the Gators played Tennessee.
By Matt Fortuna, college football reporter for The All-American.
Spurrier: Up Close
- Record: 228-89-2 (71.8%)
- Ranks second all-time in wins in SEC annals and led Gators to 1996 National Championship.
- Winningest coach in both Florida and South Carolina history.
- Posted seven conference championships, nine conference coach of the year honors and 21 bowl appearances.
- One of only four individuals to earn induction to the Hall as both a player and coach.
The scene was a little different 31 years ago, the first time Steve Spurrier was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. And not just because the event has a new temporary home, across town from the Waldorf Astoria.
“About half the guys in the crowd were smoking cigars or cigarettes back in those days,” Spurrier said, recalling a night that saw him take center stage with luminaries such as Mike Ditka and Archie Griffin. “Times have changed, certainly.”
So much has changed for Spurrier since 1986: he has coached at five different spots across the college and pro level, amassing one national title, seven conference titles and nine league coach of the year honors. And he now holds a distinction belonging to just three other individuals: induction into the College Hall as both a player and a coach. Spurrier joins Amos Alonzo Stagg, Bobby Dodd and Bowden Wyatt on the short list.
In keeping with his iconoclastic ways, Spurrier points to a rather obscure record when asked for the coaching accomplishment he’s most proud of.
“One of the records I guess I have that I’m really fond is that our teams were 53-0 against teams not from a power conference,” he said. “So I think that just shows that our guys were ready to play; we didn’t come into the games half-cocked. We understood we had to go play the game if we expected to win.”
Spurrier’s impact, however, goes far beyond simple Xs and Os.
“If you ever get a group of his players together and hear them kind of talk about what all he meant to them and all that, that’s one of the coolest things that he’s ever done,” said Scott Spurrier, Steve’s youngest son.
Both of Steve’s sons, Scott and Steve Jr., followed him into the family business, with Scott currently serving as an offensive quality control coach at USF while Steve Jr. is coaching Western Kentucky’s quarterbacks. The stories, it seems, never stop coming, with the Spurrier boys regularly hearing of new lessons inspired by Dad.
Scott recalled a television special a few years ago in which former players from several of his father’s previous stops were brought together to share anecdotes. The influence was striking.
“We had players from Duke, we had players from Florida, we had players from South Carolina, all of them in one spot,” Scott said. “And it’s kind of neat to hear them all tell stories about my dad and my mom and all of us as a family and compare stories and jokes, hearing those guys say how much my mom and dad mean to them.”
That was always the goal. The Head Ball Coach was an admirer of the late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, following the Wizard of Westwood’s philosophies on everything from decision-making to treatment of players. Now in retirement, Spurrier is living proof of the value of all those teachings.
“It’s neat to look back,” he said. “One of (Wooden’s) things was if you have been a good coach during your time, 20 years later your players will enjoy hanging around you, they’ll enjoy coming back and being around you. I’m in that phase now, and (with) so many of our players from 20-25 years ago, it’s really neat to have reunions and get together as often as we can.”