Steve Spurrier was always a rebellious coach, even back to his days at Duke.
The retired coach and current consultant at Florida told CBS Sports’ Jon Solomon that when the ACC suspended him from coaching the Blue Devils’ season finale against North Carolina in 1988, he secretly slipped suggestions to his play-caller anyway.
The conference had suspended Spurrier for criticizing the league’s officiating a week earlier. He wasn’t allowed to be in the stadium or communicate with the coaches or players. However, Spurrier repeatedly sent Duke golf club director Ed Ibarguen to the coaches box with suggestions for running backs coach Carl Franks, who was calling plays that day.
“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.”
Spurrier said he sent Ibarguen to the coaches box with notes for Franks about four times during the game, two times each half. Ibarguen said he and Spurrier had been watching the game in the training room when the coach jumped up and scribbled down some notes on adjustments for Franks to make, including a few play suggestions.
Ibarguen didn’t always make it up to the box fast enough for Franks to call the play that Spurrier had drawn up for a specific situation. In those instances, he’d put it in his back pocket and call it later.
“I’m sure if he sent a play I was going to call it,” Franks said. “There were a few things about someone cutting a route short and the quarterback cutting his step shorts. Sometimes it was a play that would have been great for the down and distance, but if Eddie didn’t get there in time, I’d wait for that situation again later. … [Spurrier] kidded me with me afterward and said, ‘Who thought I would have to tell my running back coach to run the ball more?'”
The Blue Devils won that game, by the way, 35-29.