Sun-Sentinel – Jan 17, 2002 – What can we all learn from Steve Spurrier? As a sport and performance psychologist who was in the training room regularly throughout the 1996 national championship season at the University of Florida, I have a few words to say about Steve Spurrier. While portrayed often as an arrogant egomaniac by outsiders, insiders, the staff I worked with at the University of Florida liked him very much. He was mostly perceived as a relaxed and supportive leader with a streak of perfectionism and healthy confidence.

When I approached the football program in 1995 with the goal of studying the effects of sport injury on the mindset of the players, this was a taboo and controversial area of research because it had the possibility of exposing the cruel nature of the college football injuries. Many coaches might have axed the proposal before it even had a chance. Steve Spurrier’s progressive attitude welcomed my research as well as subsequent neuropsychological studies on head injuries that have already benefited many players.

He allowed a psychologist in the training room and won a national championship doing it! We all learned more about the benefits of social support on the injured athlete.

Smart teammates, coaches, players, and trainers now make efforts to support injured players rather than tossing them out as a dirty secret. This helps the players in their recovery and emotional well being. The whole team improves, too.

Steve Spurrier’s fearlessness to explore new ideas makes him not only a successful coach, but a leader who inspires confidence in those around him. He motivates by example, disciplines with honesty and concerns himself not only with the athlete-student but the student-athlete as well. He risked learning more about what happens to the injured football player and helped his team in the process.

Competition is much more than x’s and o’s. Knowledge of the game is one thing and he knows football better than most. Motivating people, however, is even more important. His college coaching record says it all. He is leaving a 12-year legacy at Florida that will never be replaced.

John F. Murray

Staff file photo/Jim Rassol

Steve Spurrier tosses an orange to the crowd after a 56-23 drubbing of the University of Maryland on Jan. 2.
Edition: Palm Beach
Page: 24A