Charlie Ward was the guest speaker at the banquet of a high school all-star game a couple of years ago, and I was stunned to learn that none of the players knew who he was.
Now the coaches and media in attendance knew all about the former Florida State quarterback, but the players didn’t seem to have a clue. In fairness to the kids, Ward won the Heisman in 1993, which was about two or three years before they were born.
When I interviewed South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier on Monday, I asked if his 1966 Heisman ever comes in conversation with today’s recruits. Are they aware that the coaching legend was one of the best to play quarterback at Florida?
“We don’t talk about it,” Spurrier told the AJC. “Every now and then, maybe the high school coach or the parents will mention my playing career or the Heisman and that kind of stuff. But a lot of times, it is never talked about.”
How does Spurrier feel about that? Winning the Heisman is a pretty big deal. The Head Ball Coach was ready with a reply:
“I’d rather be known as a good coach … it’s what I do is coach,” Spurrier said. “I don’t need to be known as a lousy coach that won the Heisman. I’d rather be known as a good coach.
“And very seldom am I introduced as a former Heisman Trophy winner because I’ve been fortunate to be a coach for so long now. I’ve been fortunate to have the success that I’ve had.”
Spurrier, who will turn 70 years old next month, is South Carolina’s all-time winningest coach, and he coached his alma mater of Florida to the 1996 national championship.
The Atlanta area has traditionally been a recruiting hotbed for Spurrier while he has been at South Carolina. The Gamecocks signed eight players from Georgia in last month’s 29-member recruiting class.
I’ll have more from my interview with Coach Spurrier later this week.