Outspoken former Florida Gator coach to speak at All Sports trophy dinner Feb. 15
By PERRY BALLARD
Northwest Florida Daily News
When Steve Spurrier talks, people listen. Whether it’s a jab at an opposing team or his unique spin on a hot topic of the day, Spurrier is never at a loss for words. In February, sports fans in Northwest Florida will get to hear what’s on his mind. The current South Carolina football coach and former architect of Florida’s powerhouse teams in the 90s will be the guest speaker for the All Sports Association’s 39th annual trophy dinner on Feb. 15 at the Emerald Coast Conference Center.
All Sports president Gene Smith made the announcement on Friday. “To tell you the truth, we’re really very lucky to get him,” Smith said. “Being such a successful college coach and popular figure, he is in great demand as a speaker. “With him being so high-profile, it will really help with our sponsor sales. We’re looking for a lot of them to step forward and increase their support. I feel like we’ll have no problem selling out the banquet. Coach Spurrier still has a lot of following from Gator fans even though he’s not there any longer.” Spurrier, a former Florida quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy in 1966 and then returned to his alma mater to dominate the Southeastern Conference, is in his third year at South Carolina and has the No. 7 Gamecocks atop the SEC East.
He compiled an amazing 122-27-1 record at Florida from 1990-2001, a winning percentage (.817) that ranked among the top three in SEC history.
How dominant were the Gators? Spurrier is the only coach in SEC history to lead a school to 12 straight seasons of nine or more wins. Nationally, Florida finished in the top-10 nine times and in the top-5 six times during his tenure. In addition to six SEC titles, the Gators won the national crown in 1996. Quarterbacking the team was Fort Walton Beach’s Danny Wuerffel. As part of the trophy dinner ceremonies, the club presents the Danny Wuerffel Trophy to a college player who stands out in athletics, academics and community service. Smith said that might have nudged Spurrier to accept the invitation to speak.
“Danny is one of his greatest players,” Smith said. “Danny’s involvement, and the fact that we’re giving out the Wuerffel Trophy on the same night, probably helped us get coach Spurrier.” Smith said there might have been another motive for Spurrier to attend. “He has a daughter in Panama City,” Smith said. “It’s an excuse to visit the grandchildren.”
The club will honor its high school academic winners and top amateur, collegiate, professional and Special Olympic athletes at the trophy dinner. It will also present the Al Byrne Award to a person who volunteers his time to youth athletics. Smith said he will announce the speaker for the annual FCA Breakfast soon.