Steve Spurrier joins Florida athletics as ambassador and consultant

Dr. Saturday
(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Steve Spurrier is headed back to Gainesville.

The Head Ball Coach stepped down as South Carolina’s head coach after a rough start last year and now will return to his old stomping grounds, the University of Florida, to serve as an “ambassador and consultant” to the UF athletic department. Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley announced the news Friday morning.

“It’s a great day for the Gator Nation to be able to welcome Coach Spurrier back home,” Foley said in a release. “He has served as a tremendous ambassador to the university and the athletic department for 50-plus years and it’s only fitting that at this point in his career, he is 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.”

Spurrier won the 1966 Heisman Trophy as a quarterback for the Gators and went on to become the winningest coach in program history, amassing a 122-27-1 record over a 12-year span from 1990 to 2001. During that time, UF had an 87-12 record in SEC play and won a national championship, six SEC titles and six bowl games.

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“I look forward to visiting with him on a lot of occasions and picking his brain on a number of issues,” said UF head coach Jim McElwain. “It’s a credit to Jeremy to get him back home where he belongs. More than anything I look forward to actually talking to him and being around him rather than just saying hello to his statue on my way to work every day.”

As a player, Spurrier was a three-year starter for UF and went on to spend nine seasons in the NFL before beginning his coaching career. He was an assistant at Florida, Georgia Tech and Duke before landing his first head-coaching gig with the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL in 1983. He returned to the college ranks in 1987 as Duke’s head coach before being hired by his alma mater.

Spurrier abruptly resigned as Gators head coach to head to the NFL as head coach of the Washington Redskins. That stint lasted just two seasons and he returned to the college level at South Carolina in 2005.

Spurrier went 10 consecutive seasons without a losing record with the Gamecocks, but opted to step down after a 2-4 start in 2015. Spurrier finished with an 86-49 record at South Carolina.

“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,” Spurrier said. “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 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. 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.”

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Spurrier, 71, has kept his name in the news a bit this summer.

Florida previously announced in June that it would name its field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium after Spurrier. When UF opens up against UMass on Sept. 3, the field will become known as “Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.”

Additionally, Spurrier said in June that he had plans to meet with SEC Network about a commentating role, but nothing has come to fruition there and likely won’t now that he has a new role at Florida. He also has a new book on the way. It is slated for an August release.

For more Florida news, visit InsideTheGators.com.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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