Steve Spurrier is returning back to where it all began, coming home to the University of Florida to serve as an “ambassador and consultant” for the Florida Gators Athletic Department, UF announced on Friday.
Spurrier won a Heisman trophy in 1966 when he was a senior quarterback at UF and then returned to his alma mater to coach the team, winning a pile of SEC championships and the Gators’ first national championship in 1996. Last month, UF’s Board of Trustees announced that Spurrier’s name would be added to Florida Field. The new name will be unveiled at the Gators’ season opener on September 3 against the University of Massachusetts.
Athletic Director Jeremy Foley called it a “great day for Gator nation” to have Spurrier 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.”
Jim McElwain, the Gators’ current head coach, said that he looked forward to having Spurrier around and “picking his brain on a number of issues,” adding that having him in person on campus would be much better “than just saying hello to his statue on my way to work every day.”
Spurrier and UF’s other two Heisman winners, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow, are honored with statues on the west side of Ben Hill Griffin stadium.
Said Spurrier about his new role:
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. I’m very appreciative to Athletic Director Jeremy Foley, Head Coach Jim McElwain and Phil Pharr of Gator Boosters for their role in making this happen…
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.
Wuerffel, who was the quarterback on the 1996 Gators team Spurrier coached to a national championship, tweeted his congratulations.
— Danny Wuerffel (@DannyWuerffel) July 29, 2016
Spurrier also had kind words for the University of South Carolina, his last coaching job before he retired last season:
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.
The news of Spurrier’s return was greeted with cheers not just from Gator alumni, but praised by sportswriters as well.
“With so much change coming at Florida recently — its two major-sport head coaches are entering their second years and Foley is departing after 25 years leading the athletic program in October — Spurrier being in town will be a nice piece of stability for the Gators going forward,” wrote CBS Sports‘ Robby Kalland. Alex Kirshner at SB Nation called Spurrier being back at his old stomping grounds “a generally fun and good thing.”
Steve Spurrier returns to The Swamp.
The former Florida coach is named ambassador & consultant for the Gators. pic.twitter.com/JeE10NiVUI
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 29, 2016
The official Gators Football Twitter account posted the news, along with a hashtag, #WelcomeBackHBC (for “Head Ball Coach”), which was quickly filled with happy tweets from Gators and congratulatory messages.
He’s back! #WelcomeHomeHBC
Spurrier rejoins #Gators as Ambassador and Consultant.
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) July 29, 2016
Spurrier’s name was a nationwide trending topic within a few hours of the announcement.
— Florida Gators (@FloridaGators) July 29, 2016
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