At peace, the Old Ball Coach Comes Home

in College Football by

Steve Spurrier perhaps one day soon will be a relic of a different era.

An era we call the 1990’s.

Back then there was no hotter product than Florida Gator football in its purity of offensive attack, also known as the “Fun ‘n’ Gun” offense.

Spurrier’s tally at Florida: a national title, six SEC championships and 122 wins.


Spurrier left Florida in 2002 after a glorious 12-year run in Gainesville. Even then, as he sat at Redskins park, he was going over old film from ’96, the national championship year.

As history shows, his offensive genius didn’t translate into being the big head ball coach for a professional football team. Spurrier went 12-20 for the Redskins and walked away from a giant contract with apologies to Redskins fans that things didn’t work out.

Spurrier found new life after the University of South Carolina hired Spurrier to coach the Gamecooks after a three-year absence from coaching.  Spurrier found a comfortable spot at South Carolina but the old magic just wasn’t the same-all though he didn’t manage to come up with a few one-liners for the media and sideline reporters in his time. That’s not to say he wasn’t successful but it wasn’t Spurrier at Florida.

Last October Spurrier had had enough. He resigned at USC and thus began his casual saunter into retirement.

His best years were at Florida.

And now he is home.

Saturday at the place he nicked named “The Swap”, they named the field after him. And he even did a little Usain Bolt to commemorate the moment.

At the age of 71 old ball coach looks to be at peace. Not that he ever was the sort not to be at peace, but perhaps in the kinda of place old coaches have a hard time finding.

His new autobiography is out entitled, “Head Ball Coach: My Life in Football”.

He explains that the visor was just about being different, that we’re different and we’re going to have fun playing football. In terms of the nickname “Head Ball Coach” Spurrier explains:

“The nickname Head Ball Coach sort of evolved over the years and stuck. In Johnson City, Tennessee, where I played youth and high school sports, the term “ball coach” just described someone who loved sports or taught or coached ball of any kinds. A group of us guys in high school played three sports under three different coaches. We just called them ball coaches. “He’s a good ball coach,” we’d say. We dropped the foot in football because there were good coaches in other sports. A lot of people used it-not just me-instead of using the word football. ”

“At some point I started referring to myself as just a ball coach. Later at Florida, someone referred to me as Head Ball Coach. I’m not sure who started it, but a guy named A.J. Vaughn from Jacksonville a friend of sportswriter/broadcaster David Lammn, bought me a shirt with HBC on it, and the nickname seemed to stick.”

So there you have it, the Head Ball Coach, became the ball coach, and now is the 71-year old retired ball coach and ambassador at the University of Florida.