College football royalty was on hand in Birmingham on Monday evening to recognize the first recipients of the Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club Nick Saban Legacy Award.
Coach Steve Spurrier and the late Coach Eddie Robinson were named the inaugural honorees of the national award that celebrates the lifetime accomplishments of college coaches and their contributions to the game of football.
The Quarterback Club, which is one of the most philanthropic civic organizations in the state of Alabama, established the annual award in honor of Coach Nick Saban earlier this year.
About the Honorees
If there is one word that best describes both Robinson and Spurrier it is trailblazers.
Beginning in 1941, at the age of 22, Robinson coached Grambling State University for the following 56 years. He is recognized as one of the greatest college coaches of all-time winning 408 games during his career. More than 80 of his players went on to play professional football in the National and American Football Leagues. His teams won nine Black College National Championships.
The architect of the fun ‘n’ gun offense, Spurrier became the winningest head coach in Florida and South Carolina history. He is also only the fourth person ever inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as both a player (he won the Heisman Trophy in 1966) and coach. He revolutionized the game on the offensive side of the ball.
Saban made the following comments about the honorees:
“Your legacy is the gift that you leave. And the gift that you leave is not how many games that you won, even though his (Coach Robinson) record is fantastic. It is what you leave with the people that you left behind. The honor here is the legacy people like Coach Robinson left for so many people. The opportunities that he created. The lessons that they’ve learned. Because that’s really what coaching is. We have a unique opportunity to impact young people. We can teach them all the lessons of discipline, work ethic, commitment and overcoming adversity and resilience help them be successful in their life. And Coach Robinson did that really well.”
“We need personalities in this profession. We need characters. We need people who inspire people to be interested in our game and there’s no bigger personality, no bigger character that ever did that in my mind than Steve Spurrier and he does not get the credit for the impact that he had on the game.
He revolutionized the game that you see right now.”
The inaugural ceremony was hosted by broadcasters Lauren Sisler and Rick Neuheisel. The near capacity audience at The Club was treated to a mix of videos about the recipients and candid comments about the honorees from family, friends, former players and administrators.
Participants and special guests included:
- Archie Manning — Hall of Famer and Chair of the National Football Foundation
- Greg McElroy — Alabama Quarterback of the 2009 National Championship team
- Cherie Kirkland — Granddaughter of Coach Eddie Robinson
- Chris Doering and Shane Matthews — Prominent Florida players during the 1990s
- Steve Melnyk — Renown golfer and Florida Classmate of Coach Spurrier
In his concluding remarks about Spurrier and Robinson, Saban said, “The greatest impact they made was the gifts that they left to the players they coached.”
Want to learn more about the Nick Saban Legacy Award and the Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club which last year dispersed $1.8 million to 28 charities across the state? Visit Quarterbacking Children’s Health Foundation.