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Summer School - MSU History 101 | 1985, Steve Spurrier a candidate for MSU Football Coach

The Ole Ball Coach was nearly MSU's OBC in 1985
The Ole Ball Coach was nearly MSU's OBC in 1985
Streeter Lecka

Most, if not all, college football fans know who the 'Ole Ball Coach' is. At age 67, Steve Spurrier has been around awhile, especially for SEC fans, as he's coached at both the University of Florida and currently at the University of South Carolina. Steve is known for many things: bringing the 'Fun-N-Gun' offense to Florida, his love of golf, and his ability to never be short on words. But one thing I didn't know, and many Bulldog fans may also not have know, was that in 1985, Steve was a candidate for the head football coaching position at Mississippi State.


(click the picture to view it in a larger format)

In 1985 Steve Spurrier, then the head coach of the Tampa Bay Bandits, a member of the now defunct USFL, was announced as one of 5 candidates to replace Emory Bellard at Mississippi State. Bellard, who finished with just two winnings seasons in seven at the helm of the Bulldog program, guaranteed State fans an SEC Championship prior to the 1985 season, and then finished a dismal 5-6. Emory was fired shortly thereafter, and Athletics Director Charlie Carr and University President Donald Zacharias opened up a nationwide search to replace him.

In the 1985 St. Petersburg Times article pictured above, Spurrier was listed among five candidates for the head football coaching position at MSU: Rockey Felker, running backs coach at Alabama; Bob Field, co-defensive coordinator at UCLA; Larry Marmie, defensive coordinator at Arizona State; and Bruce Arians, head coach at Temple University.

As most of you know, Rockey Felker was chosen from that group to replace Bellard, and Felker coached 5 seasons at his alma mater before giving way to Jackie Wayne Sherrill. Although I would never question the decision to hire Rockey as our head coach - his contributions have been insurmountable to our football program on many different levels - one can't help but wonder what Bulldog football would have been like with Steve Spurrier at the helm.

Steve went on to be selected the head coach at Duke University two years later in 1987, where he previously was the offensive coordinator from 1980 to 1982. Spurrier would take the Blue Devils from the cellar of the ACC to a tie for the league championship in just two seasons, before departing for Florida to be the head coach at his alma mater in 1990. Everyone knows the history after that: he coached at UF for 12 seasons, never winning less than 9 games, amassing 122 victories to just 27 losses, 6 SEC Championships, and 1 National Championship in 1996.

This has been your MSU History 101 lesson for the week, summer schoolers. Now you're dismissed to the pool to drink Blue Moon and live care-free.