Steve Spurrier is everywhere around the University of Florida campus. From a statue commemorating his 1966 Heisman Trophy to his name before Florida Field, it’s safe to call Spurrier a Gators legend.
But after his playing days were through, and before he became a Florida coaching legend, Spurrier was the offensive coordinator and eventually the head coach at Duke University.
— CBS Sports CFB (@CBSSportsCFB) September 8, 2016
Now back in Gainesville, Spurrier sat down with CBS Sports’ Jon Solomon to share a wild anecdote for the first time publicly from his time in Durham, North Carolina.
Spurrier found himself suspended for Duke’s season finale against the UNC Tar Heels, thanks to publicly criticizing the officials for a ruling that contributed to the Blue Devils missing its first bowl game in 28 years.
Despite being suspended, Spurrier told Solomon he found a way to call the plays anyway. Following the season, Spurrier was named ACC Coach of the Year.
To the knowledge of very few, Spurrier kept coaching during his one-game suspension in 1988, shuttling Duke University’s golf club director back and forth to the coaches’ box with suggestions on a piece of paper that helped beat rival North Carolina.
According to a 1988 story by the Fayetteville Observer, Corrigan told Spurrier that ACC rules allowed him to be with his team for up to one hour before the North Carolina game started. The article said Spurrier had to leave Wallace Wade Stadium for the game, and he couldn’t have contact with the Blue Devils by telephone or walkie-talkie or talk to them at halftime. (Spurrier said this week that Corrigan told him he could speak at halftime.)
Spurrier and Ibarguen (pronounced EYE-bar-gwen) watched Duke’s season finale together from the trainers’ office on TV and by looking out onto the field. Spurrier said he provided “suggestions” on play calls to Franks.
“Most of them were, ‘Carl, run the damn ball occasionally,'” Spurrier said. “I could see most of the field. I’d give him some messages — run this, run that or whatever because I had a runner. Eddie said he’d sneak in the press box a little bit, look around, and under the table he’d give Carl notes. He didn’t want anybody to know about that. I used to scare him.”
Franks said he was shocked the first time a folded piece of paper arrived as he was trying to call plays.
“I get someone tapping me on my shoulder and here comes this piece of paper, and I open the paper up and it has a play on it,” Franks said. “I turn around and said, ‘Who sent this?’ There’s the golf coach. I see Eddie standing back there and I realize what’s going on. The only problem was the golf coach was usually several plays late.”