Spurrier headed back to Florida Accepts position as ambassador, consultant for Gators

Steve Spurrier resigned last season as South Carolina's head football coach. (File/AP)

COLUMBIA — Steve Spurrier is heading home.

The former South Carolina football coach has taken a position as ambassador and consultant to the Florida athletic department, the Gators announced Friday. Spurrier was a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at the school and won the 1996 national championship in a long and successful tenure as Florida’s head coach.

“My wife Jerri and I are extremely excited to be returning home to our alma mater, and to Gainesville where we met on campus 50 years ago,” said Spurrier, who was appointed to the position by Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley.

“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 the Gamecocks players, coaches and fans that allowed our teams to set so many school records,” Spurrier added in a release.

“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 Gamecocks coach. I will try my best to promote and assist in any way I can to help the Gators continue to be one of the very best athletic programs in America.”

Spurrier stepped down a USC’s coach in the middle of last season’s 3-9 campaign. During his tenure in Columbia he won more games than any other South Carolina football coach, won four consecutive bowls, beat rival Clemson five straight times, and engineered three straight 11-win seasons that stand as the program’s high-water mark.

Following his resignation as South Carolina football coach, Spurrier briefly served in a loosely-defined ambassadorial role with the university. The Gamecocks’ new indoor practice facility is named for he and his wife Jerri.

“We wish Coach Spurrier all the best in his future endeavors and appreciate the time he gave to us as a coach, colleague, friend and university ambassador,” USC president Harris Pastides said in a statement. “Steve will always be a Gamecock fan, he’s made that clear. He elevated our football program to a new level and we will forever be grateful. Coach Spurrier has a well-established legacy at several schools and will go down as one of the sports greatest. I believe we got the best that the Head Ball Coach had to give.”

Added USC athletic director Ray Tanner: “We are grateful for the impact that Coach Spurrier had on our football program and on our Universiy. He has been a good friend to me and was a tremendous supporter of all of our programs during his tenure, which was the most successful era in school history. It was a pleasure to work with him and I enjoyed the many conversations we had over the years. We wish Coach and Jerri all the best as they return to their alma mater and the campus where they met over 50 years ago.”

During a conference call with reporters, Spurrier said he would have an office at Florida’s football stadium and do fundraising by speaking at luncheons and booster club meetings. He had conversations about a television role with SEC Network, but they did not get very far. “I did not want to be a retired dude and do nothing,” he added, according to The Associated Press.

Spurrier went 86-49 during his tenure at USC, which finished a program-best fourth nationally in the AP poll following the 2013 season. Throughout his time with the Gamecocks he maintained strong ties to Florida, keeping a home nearby and often catching a ride on the Gators’ jet to preseason media appearances by SEC coaches at ESPN. In June Florida added his name to its football facility, now known as Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

“It’s only fitting that at this point in his career, he is back in Gainesville,” Foley said in a statement. “Being a Gator has always meant so much to Coach Spurrier, but it means just as much for us to have him come home.”

Added Gators head football coach Jim McElwain: “It’ a credit to Jeremy to get (Spurrier) back where he belongs.”