The only Tennessee high school athlete to go on to win the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s outstanding college football player, Steve Spurrier is best known today as the head football coach of the University of Florida, a fierce rival of the University of Tennessee. Sports Illustrated magazine ranked Spurrier fifth in its list of the fifty greatest sports figures from Tennessee in the twentieth century. He also is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Spurrier was born in Miami Beach, Florida, on April 20, 1945, to parents J. Graham and Majorie Spurrier. His father was a Presbyterian minister. At the age of twelve, Spurrier moved with his family to Johnson City, Tennessee. He excelled in three sports–football, baseball, and basketball–at Science Hill High School. His baseball team won consecutive state championships; as a pitcher, Spurrier was undefeated over three seasons. In football, Spurrier was both quarterback and kicker; he received prep All-American honors in 1962.
Receiving a scholarship from the University of Florida, Spurrier enjoyed a remarkable college career, leading his team not only by his passing but also by his kicking (usually punting). After winning the Heisman Trophy in 1966, Spurrier was drafted by the San Francisco Forty-Niners and played ten years in the National Football League.
Spurrier’s first head coaching job was with the Tampa Bay franchise of the United States Football League. He next coached at Duke University before accepting the position at Florida in 1990. He won four consecutive SEC championships between 1993 and 1996 and the national title in 1996. He was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.