The field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will pay homage to a beloved figure of Florida’s history.
On Thursday, the school announced that the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will be named after former Gators coach and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Steve Spurrier. University of Florida’s board of trustees voted Thursday to rename the field, “Steve Spurrier-Florida Field.” The name change will be made official at a ceremony that will include Spurrier during the Gators’ opener against Massachusetts on Sept. 3.
— Florida Gators (@FloridaGators) June 9, 2016
Here’s the statement from Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley via UF’s release:
“We feel this was an appropriate way to commemorate one the most legendary figures in Gator athletics history. Coach Spurrier did more than win a Heisman Trophy, a national championship and a bunch of games. Coach Spurrier changed the culture of Florida athletics. We were an institution that always had a mantra of wait until next year and wouldn’t it be great to just win one championship.
“Coach changed all of that. The Gators won, won big and won with swagger. As much as he impacted the football program, he changed the vibe in the entire athletic department. He and his wife, Jerri, were big supporters of the entire athletic department – giving advice to different coaches, attending other sporting events and even endowed a scholarship to support women’s athletics.”
Here’s Spurrier’s reaction from the release:
“I am humbled, honored, thankful and very appreciative that my alma mater, the University of Florida, believes that I am worthy and deserving to have my name placed on Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, also known as ‘The Swamp.’ I was blessed and fortunate to be recruited and then to play for the original ‘Bull Gator’ – Coach Ray Graves in the mid-60s. I was fortunate to play with outstanding and talented teammates that allowed our teams to have winning seasons and play in major bowl games and build lasting friendships for a lifetime. A very special thanks to Coach Doug Dickey, who hired me as an assistant coach in 1978, and allowing me to enter the coaching profession. I will always be grateful for the opportunity he gave me. As the head coach in 1990, I inherited a team that was loaded with outstanding players, who were poised and ready to start winning SEC Championships. We have had many truly great All-American, All-SEC and solid wonderful team-oriented players at Florida and I can’t mention them all. I must say that Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel were not only two of the greatest quarterbacks in school history, but they were outstanding, excellent, courageous leaders who guided their teams to six SEC championships and one national championship in 1996. The Swamp is a special place. We coaches and players thoroughly enjoyed playing in front of our fans. We won a bunch of them there and only lost five and they were close ones. I also met my wife, Jerri Starr, at the University of Florida, she has been a tremendous influence on everything I’ve done since. Again, I say thanks to all of those who made this honor possible and I consider this to be the biggest, most special honor I have ever received.”
Given that Spurrier is retired, this move makes perfect sense. Now “The Swamp” will have a permanent salute to the Head Ball Coach.