Steve Spurrier Tells His Story to Success and Southern Innovations
NASHVILLE, TN - Of the many sports that can bring together industries, football really tops the list. Between loyal college football fans to the NFL teams’ diehard supporters, the football-passionate traverse backgrounds and trades. With Southern Innovations Organics & Foodservice Expo just around the corner on September 6-8, 2018 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, I thought I would touch base with one of the keynote speakers to grace the stage.
Steve Spurrier, retired College Football Coach for the University of Florida and Coach for the 2019 Alliance of American Football’s Orlando team, joins me for a look at the upcoming event, his legacy, passion, and what he has learned along the way.
“I am excited to meet an industry that aligns with the same health and wellness goals as myself,” Spurrier shares with me as we talk about the event ahead. “For the Southern Innovations keynote, I want to share my story and how it all happened for me, from my days as a player to my first head coaching job at Duke and the positions that followed. It all came down to setting goals and dreaming and visualizing those goals. And low and behold, the successes kept on happening during my career, but not without hard work and passion. Some of the things I love to talk about are those miraculous moments, or rather ‘thank you, Lord’ moments that have happened in games. I have been incredibly fortunate, and I am looking forward to sharing my story at the event.”
Spurrier was born in Miami, Florida, and attended Science Hill High in Johnson City, Tennessee. He laughs as he tells me that he was probably a better athlete in basketball and baseball originally than football. As high school progressed, Spurrier got a little taller and a little quicker and became the team’s quarterback, lettered in three sports, and was an all-state selection in football, basketball, and baseball, as well as a high school All-American quarterback in 1962.
“My father was a Presbyterian minister and instilled a love of competition in me and my brother and sister—that desire to win, the will to win, that I have carried with me all my life. My dad told me that if it is a contest and you love competing, you should be trying your best to win,” he laughs. “I have always believed in that idea, and how it can be applied to whatever you do in life. What it comes down to is passion, and approaching each opportunity in life the way I approach the game.”
Spurrier received a scholarship to the University of Florida where he continued to play quarterback, further establishing himself as one of the best passers in SEC history on his way to winning Florida’s first Heisman Trophy in 1966.
“I think that accepting the scholarship at Florida was the best choice I could have made. Not only for the opportunities I had there, but because that is where I met my wife, Jerri Starr,” he tells me, and I can sense a smile spread across his face.
Spurrier then went onto play 10 years in the NFL—nine for the San Francisco 49ers (GO NINERS!) and one for the Tampa Bay Bucs. He was a Head Coach for 30 years. Check out these stats:
- USFL – Tampa Bay Bandits (35-19)
- Duke – Won the ACC Football Championship in 1989 - This is the only one Duke has won in 55 years.
- Florida – Won seven SEC Championships, one National Championship in 1996
- South Carolina – Finished Top 10 three years in a row and won 11 games three years in a row
In addition, Spurrier is one of the winningest coaches in Florida football history and one of the winningest coaches in South Carolina football history. Coincidentally, his record versus Nick Saban is 3-1 and against Dabo Swinney is 5-2. He is one of only four men to be inducted to the National College Football Hall of Fame as a player and coach in 2017.
“The relationship of coach to player or player to coach is an interesting one—being a coach does not necessarily have a lot to do with being a player. I may have been an All-American star player but that doesn’t necessarily make a good coach. There are no Heisman trophy winners out there coaching for example and very few All-American players that are coaches,” Spurrier shares with me. “What I learned about coaching, as I imagine most do, I learned once I became a coach. I intensely studied other coaches’ successes and business models, read all the books I could get my hands on, learned from the best and also those that had failed. It is a game where you are always learning, you must always learn—as in life.”
Next up for Spurrier? He has been announced as the coach for the Alliance of American Football’s Orlando team. The league, founded by TV and film producer Charlie Ebersol and Hall of Famer Bill Polian, features eight teams under a single entity structure, with a 12-week season kicking-off on CBS on February 9, 2019, with the championship game on April 26-28, 2019.
“We will have 10 games, and hopefully two playoff games,” Spurrier laughs and says. “What really drew me to the league was not only the chance to coach again but the league’s commitment to putting top-flight, professional football on the field and creating a true alliance between fans, players, and the game.”
When I ask him what advice he lives by, among the many things he tells me is this...
“Attitude is everything; a person can alter their lives if they can change their attitude,” he shares.
I am not sure about you, but I will be clamoring for a good seat at next month’s Southern Innovations keynote. See you all there!