Florida Gators Honor Steve Spurrier; Rename Field
When Mick Hubert is calling a home Florida Gators’ game this season, he will want to take a breath before saying what stadium they are sitting in. Confirmed by the University of Florida Athletic Association, the stadium that he nicknamed “The Swamp” will now be known as Steve Spurrier – Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Spurrier built the Gators into a college football powerhouse in the early 90’s and left his legacy on his Alma mater. He also won the Heisman Trophy as a quarterback for the Gators in 1966. Florida’s coach from 1990-2001, Spurrier compiled a 122-27-1 record with the Gators. He won six conference titles, one national championship and is the only winner of the Heisman Trophy to coach another winner, Danny Wuerffel in 1996.
Spurrier is, arguably, the most important figure in not only Florida’s football program, but their entire sports program. His influence spread to the basketball program that won back to back National Championships. He and his wife, Jerri, have been supporters of every University sport and even have a scholarship at the school.
Spurrier Put Florida on the Map
When a 44-year-old Spurrier returned to his Alma mater, he took over a Florida team that had been harbored not by losing, but by scandal. Previous Coach Galen Hall had paid a player and a few assistants money that the NCAA manual said he shouldn’t. Spurrier returned and wasted no time.
The Fun ‘n’ Gun had arrived. The Gators not only went 9-2 in 1990, but they did it while throwing for 290.6 yards per game. Only the NCAA probation that Hall left behind kept Florida from winning the SEC. The next season, Florida threw for 308.5 yards per game and won its first conference championship. Ever.
After 1996, when the Gators won their first national championship and quarterback Danny Wuerffel won the school’s second Heisman, Spurrier would win only one more SEC title in 2000.
He resigned from Florida after the 2001 season, tired of being a local celebrity and interested in the NFL. His Gators led the nation that season with 405.2 passing yards per game. Four other SEC teams threw for at least 270 yards per game.
Athletic Director Jeremy Foley released a statement on the naming of the field:
“We feel this was an appropriate way to commemorate one of the most legendary figures in Gator athletics history,” Foley said. “Coach Spurrier did more than win a Heisman Trophy, a national championship and a bunch of games. Coach Spurrier changed the culture of Florida athletics. We were an institution that always had a mantra of wait until next year and wouldn’t it be great to just win one championship.”
“Coach changed all of that. The Gators won, won big and won with swagger. As much as he impacted the football program, he changed the vibe in the entire athletic department. He and his wife, Jerri, were big supports of the entire athletic department – giving advice to different coaches, attending other sporting events and even endowed a scholarship to support women’s athletics,” he continued.
Spurrier said he was surprised at the news.
“I was stunned, really, when Jeremy called,” Spurrier said. “I had no idea that was even being considered.”
(Florida Gators Honor Steve Spurrier)