Former Florida Gators national championship-winning coach and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Steve Spurrier resigned from his post at South Carolina and retired from the sport of college football on Tuesday.
As a response to Spurrier’s departure, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and current Gators head coach Jim McElwain released statements praising Spurrier and honoring his accomplishments.
“He changed the culture of this place. I have been here a long, long time. When I first came here in 1976, all anybody wanted to do was win one Southeastern Conference Championship. Obviously, he came here and changed that standard a little bit. He produced the championships. Obviously, he produced the first national championship and he did it the right way. He had fun doing it. I talked to Coach Spurrier this morning and we talked about how much fun we had when he was down here winning ball games. He changed it. He made this place a winner.
“Obviously, college football loses a unique personality. A guy who did it the right way. He has been on that, doing it the right way. He is a tremendous offensive talent and it was fun to watch Coach Spurrier coach his ball players as he would say. You are going to miss that. You are going to miss probably one of the most unique personalities in the game, ever. A true winner and a class guy and we are proud to call him a Gator and I am proud to call him my friend.”
“First and foremost, let’s celebrate what this guy’s all about and what he’s all done. Not only with the game of football but with the impact he’s had in so many young guys’ lives along the way. You know what’s great is we’ve had so many former players that played for him and come back to the Gators. To see what he’s done – that’s something special. It’s truly a tribute and we’re going to miss him.
“Hopefully maybe now, when he steps back, maybe I can get him a chair in our office and I can learn from him. He took some base principles and put it in his own terms, and he went and won with it. Even beyond that, it wasn’t just the offense. It had to do with all the players that had played for him. You talk to each and every one of them, and he’s a guy that they totally respect and had a major impact on their lives — it’s why we go into this business.
“He’s a guy I’ve studied from afar. He didn’t know who I was at the time — I’m just some kid from Montana who was trying to learn as much as I could. I will cherish the time we had sitting together while flying on an airplane over to Bristol, Conn., for the SEC Media Days. There were two and half hours there and back and for me, it was something special. He’s pretty good — I thought I was a witty guy but he put me to shame.”