The Florida Gators have decided to honor their first Heisman winner and most legendary coach by putting his name on their football field.
What was once known as Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will now be called Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The change will be made official in a ceremony at the Gators’ season opener on Sept. 3.
“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.
“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.”
Originally built in 1930 as “Florida Field,” the stadium was renamed “Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium” in 1989 following a generous donation by UF graduate and booster Ben Hill Griffin Jr. It received its nickname, “The Swamp,” in 1992 when Spurrier was asked to describe why the Gators had such a great home field advantage in the stadium.
“We feel this was an appropriate way to commemorate one the most legendary figures in Gator athletics history,” said UF athletic director Jeremy Foley. “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.”
Spurrier won the 1966 Heisman Trophy and later coached the 1996 Heisman winner at Florida, Danny Wuerffel. Spurrier went 122-27-1 while at Florida, leading the Gators to their first national title in the 1996 season.