Spurrier was the 1966 Heisman Trophy winner at Florida and the legendary football coach that led his team to seven SEC Titles and the first National Title in school history. 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of Florida’s first National Championship of which Spurrier and his team smashed through 13 of 14 opponents and finally rival Florida State in the Sugar Bowl to win the title.
Spurrier and his Fun-n-Gun offense was the new rave in the 90’s as he took the offensive record books by storm and made them his own. His brash demeanor on the podium made him a Gators fan favorite along with the media that covered him.
"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.',” Spurrier said in a statement. “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."
Spurrier’s 12 year run at Florida came to halt at the end of the 2001 season and a demolishing of Maryland in the Orange Bowl. He decided to take his trusted visor and ball plays to the NFL in a stint that only lasted a couple of years.
Florida Athletics’ Director Jeremy Foley chimed in on the renaming of the field.
"We feel this was an appropriate way to commemorate one the most legendary figures in Gator athletics history,” Foley said. “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."
There was a lot of apprehension when Spurrier took the head coaching job at South Carolina a couple of years later, but there never seemed to be that utter disdain from Gators fans normally associated with opposing ball coaches. Spurrier is that much beloved.
Besides all the records at Florida, Spurrier also nicknamed the stadium ‘The Swamp’, you can see that emblazoned in 10-foot letters on the walls of the large orange structure on game day.
From day one, Florida’s current head coach Jim McElwain has talked of his respect for Spurrier. He offered up his sentiments as well.
"I'm excited to hear that Coach Spurrier will have his name on The Swamp,” McElwain said. “He is a guy that has meant so much to Florida football and the Gators. He is someone that I've always looked up to from afar and I've really been fortunate to get to know him since I've become the head coach here. I know that our team will be really excited to run out of the tunnel and onto the field that will have his name on it."
O’Connell Center arena has a new name…
It will still be the Stephen C O’Connell Center, but the arena portion of the structure that is currently being renovated will have a new name… Exactech Arena.
UF and Exactech have a 30-year history of collaboration on education, innovation and health care.
Exactech was founded in 1985 by orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Bill Petty, his wife Betty, and biomedical engineer Gary Miller. While faculty and research colleagues at the UF College of Medicine's Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Petty and Miller collaborated with several orthopaedic device companies and thought they saw some things the industry could do differently, and better. They wanted to focus their vision on creating products and services that would make a difference in the quality of care provided to patients suffering from joint diseases like arthritis.
With global headquarters in Gainesville, Exactech now has more than 700 employees who design, develop, manufacture and distribute innovative orthopaedic implants and surgical instrumentation for patients undergoing shoulder, knee, hip and spine surgery. The company's products are distributed in more than 35 countries.
The renaming is the result of a 5.9 million dollar donation toward the renovation of the O’Connell Center.