Steve Spurrier has carried an unofficial affiliation with Florida ever since he left Gainesville to coach the Washington Redskins after the 2001 season. When you're both the school's first Heisman Trophy winner and its first national championship winning coach, that type of thing tends to happen. Spurrier painted himself in new colors, but we all knew what lied beneath.
Now officially retired from coaching, the Head Ball Coach on Friday formally rekindled his relationship with his alma mater as the Gators announced Spurrier will serve as ambassador and consultant for the Florida athletics department.
Bringing Spurrier back in the fold makes sense no matter how you do it, but to do it at a time where the football and basketball coach have one season under their belts and longtime AD Jeremy Foley is out the door soon makes today's announcement especially timely for Florida.
Here's the release:
GAINESVILLE, Fla.— Former Florida quarterback and head coach Steve Spurrier has been named Ambassador and Consultant for the Florida Gators Athletic Department, Jeremy Foley announced on Friday.
"It's a great day for the Gator Nation to be able to welcome Coach Spurrier back home," Foley said. "He has served as a tremendous ambassador to the University and the athletic department for 50-plus years and it's only fitting that at this point in his career, he is back in Gainesville. Being a Gator has always meant so much to Coach Spurrier, but it means just as much to us have him come home."
"I look forward to visiting with him on a lot of occasions and picking his brain on a number of issues," said UF Head Coach Jim McElwain. "It's a credit to Jeremy to get him back home where he belongs. More than anything I look forward to actually talking to him and being around him rather than just saying hello to his statue on my way to work every day."
"My wife, Jerri, and I are extremely thrilled to be returning home to our alma mater, and to Gainesville where we met on campus over 50 years ago," Spurrier said. "I'm very appreciative to Athletic Director Jeremy Foley, Head Coach Jim McElwain andPhil Pharr of Gator Boosters for their role in making this happen.
"I also want to say thanks to the University of South Carolina for allowing me to be their coach from 2005 to 2015. Also a special thanks to all of the Gamecock players, coaches and fans that allowed our teams to set so many school records. I will now pull for South Carolina to win every game but one, just as I did when I pulled for Florida to win every game but one as the Gamecock coach. I will try my best to promote and assist in any way I can to help the Gators to continue to be one of the very best athletic programs in America. I admire what Coach McElwain and his staff accomplished last year. I'm anxious to watch the Gator football team as they strive to be the best in the SEC and the nation in the years ahead."
Spurrier's UF career started in 1963 when he came to Gainesville as a quarterback from Science Hill High School in Johnson City, Tennessee. He took over as the starting quarterback during his sophomore season in 1964 and won the Heisman Trophy as a senior in 1966 before being selected in the first round of the 1967 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
After his playing career, Spurrier rejoined the Gators as head coach in 1990 and took the program to new heights, winning the school's first Southeastern Conference title in 1991. He went on to be named SEC Coach of the Year five times at Florida, and led the Gators to six conference titles. In addition, he helped UF claim its first national title with a 52-20 win over Florida State in the 1997 Sugar Bowl.
Spurrier retired from coaching during the 2015 season in his 11th season at South Carolina. He finished his career with a record of 228-89-2 (.718) as a collegiate head coach.
In early June, Florida Field was renamed Steve-Spurrier-Florida Field in his honor, with the unveiling of his namesake set for the season opener against Massachusetts on September 3rd at 7:30 p.m.