Image Credit: AP
No one has had more success roaming the sidelines in Gainesville, Florida, than the head ball coach, Steve Spurrier. So when the Florida Gators officially brought him back into the fold for the first time in nearly two decades last week as the athletic program’s “ambassador and consultant,” there was some curiosity about what exactly his role will be.
Spurrier will obviously help with public relations and fundraising. He’ll probably make a bunch of appearances and do some interviews on behalf of the program. But he will also have an office in the athletic facility, which puts him in close proximity to the current football coaches.
That brings up another question: Will head coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier actually use that incredible resource that appears to be at their disposal?
“How would you not?” Nussmeier answered, rhetorically. “I mean, you got the stats here every day we see as we come into work. Just having watched coach from a distance over time and what he’s been able to accomplish offensively and sit down and have the conversations that we’ve had and things. You talk about a great resource within the building and to not use it, to me, would be foolish.
“His success, and especially at the quarterback position, you’re always — I think if you’re trying to grow as a coach, you’re always reaching out to other people within your profession, or people that you respect and asking opinions. And hey, ‘How do you do this?’ or hey, ‘Would you look at what we’re doing here and tell me if you might have a suggestion you think we could do better?’ Really excited to have that resource in the building.”
As for McElwain, he says Florida is “where [Spurrier] belongs” because “he’s a Gator and always will be a Gator.”
“Our opportunity to tap him and his knowledge on a lot of things, not just the football piece; I’m talking about the traditions, I’m talking about what it was that made it great, you know, all those type of things. I’m not talking about Xs and Os. I’m talking about a lot of the things that go into being successful,” he continued.
“He obviously is one of those [legendary] guys. And he’s a guy I got to know a couple years ago at an [event] we were at. And I genuinely just enjoyed being around the guy. You know, being able to have that relationship is something that’s pretty special. And you know, egos, what are egos? Those are things that get you fired. I just like the ability to have good people around you and that’s what it’s all about.”
McElwain was referring to whether he might feel overshadowed by the return of the most important player and coach in program history. But he also addressed Spurrier stepping a tad out of his new role and accidentally naming redshirt sophomore Luke Del Rio as Florida’s starting quarterback last week despite McElwain saying the player is very much in a competition with redshirt senior Austin Appleby.
“You mean our ambassador to the university? First of all, I’ve got to say this: I’m excited he’s on our team. But I guess those three practices he watched, he picked it, right?” McElwain said with a big grin.
As it turns out, a large portion of McElwain’s second season will be spent dedicating things to and honoring the past. At three Gators home games this season, the team will be (1) renaming the stadium Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, (2) honoring the 2006 national championship football team and (3) honoring the 2006-07 back-to-back national championship basketball team.
Talk about expectations.