Steve Spurrier will forever go down as one of the most legendary play callers that college football has ever seen. He led offenses at Duke, Florida, and South Carolina to new heights, and a new story via CBS sheds some light on a game he wasn’t supposed to be calling plays at…but found a way to do just that.
According to a piece CBS published today, Spurrier was in his second season at Duke, and had just been handed a suspension by ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan for the Blue Devils final game of the season against North Carolina after publicly calling out officials for a call that essentially cost them a bowl trip. Corrigan relayed to Spurrier that he would be allowed to be around the team for up to an hour before kickoff, but then had to leave the stadium for the game and was prohibited to have any contact with the team.
Of course, Spurrier found a way around that. He ended up inviting Duke golf director Ed Ibarguen into the trainers office where they watched the game on TV, occasionally looking out onto the field. Running backs coach Carl Franks (who now coaches the running backs at FCS Bethune Cookman) was calling the plays for the day, and Spurrier told CBS that he provided a few suggestions.
“Most of them were, ‘Carl, run the damn ball occasionally,'” Spurrier explained, noting that Ibarguen went back and forth maybe two times per half with plays diagrammed and suggestions that wound up being passed under the table to Franks. “I could see most of the field. I’d give him some messages – run this, run that or whatever because I had a runner. Eddie said he’d sneak in the press box a little bit, look around, and under the table he’d give Carl notes. He didn’t want anybody to know about that. I used to scare him.”
The trek wasn’t an easy one for Ibarguen, who had to go about 400 yards and up four flights of stairs to relay the messages. Franks explains the moment a folded piece of paper arrived as he’s trying to focus on calling plays:
“I get someone tapping me on my shoulder and here comes this piece of paper, and I open the paper up and it has a play on it. I turn around and said, ‘Who sent this?’ There’s the golf coach. I see Eddie standing back there and I realize what’s going on. The only problem was the golf coach was usually several plays late.”
Duke ended up coming from behind to beat UNC in a close one, 35-29, and Spurrier hugging a player after that game happens to be the cover of his new book, Head Ball Coach – which seems very fitting.
Ever since Spurrier announced his resignation, I’ve been a big advocate of ESPN locking him up for a “Storytime with Spurrier” segment, so that we can all hear more glorious stories like this one.
Head here to read the full story, including how Spurrier kind of misled Ibarguen into showing up in the first place, and how he nonchalently sent the first note up with him. The full article is a really good read.