by Art Levy
Updated 6 months ago
The governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, I got to know her a little bit when I was coaching at the University of South Carolina. She was a very sharp lady and did an excellent job. When she got that Confederate flag removed from the Capitol there, I remember sending her a text, and I told her she did more for the state of South Carolina in one day than maybe anyone else had in the last 100 years. Waving that Confederate flag, it just wasn’t right.
My dad was a Presbyterian minister. He loved sports, loved baseball. He was a Little League coach, and being very competitive he’d always get the guys together before the season, have a team meeting and ask how many of them believed in that saying — ‘It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.’ Most all of them raised their hand, but I knew better. He’d tell them, if you’re keeping score, you’re supposed to win. Sometimes, some of the backup players, if it was a close game, they didn’t get to play.
Heck, we really all try to recruit the best players, athletically and with the top personal traits and habits. You don’t want troublemakers. If they have problems in high school, then it might be best not to recruit them, but, then again, people can change.
They put my name on the stadium here at Florida. That was the biggest honor I’ve ever received in my life, and I’ve been fortunate to receive a bunch of them.
I probably average working out four to five days a week at least, mostly the treadmill and bike. I’ve gotten to where I like the bike a little better because you burn more calories and get a good sweat. I like sweating.
Me and Bobby Bowden, we had a decent relationship, but when his guys bragged about hurting the quarterbacks and hurting people on the other team, I didn’t think there was any place for that. He was the head coach and he pretty much, in my opinion, allowed it.
I wish people would drive better. I don’t know how you stop it, but collisions and car wrecks, they happen all the time.
On the field, everyone has to play the best they can at a full-speed level and, if they don’t, you’ve got to remove them — no matter who they are.
My doctor said my spine is pretty ugly with arthritis, but my heart and lungs look real good, so that’s good. The heart and lungs are the keys to longevity.
In 1987, I was the head coach at Duke, making $75,000 a year, and my last year, 2014, all of sudden I was making $4 million a year (at the University of South Carolina). So I go from $75,000 to $4 million and the athletes are still getting the same scholarship they always got. That’s not right. Let’s give the athletes some money. The pot has gotten bigger and bigger. They deserve more than a scholarship.
I always tried to convince our guys that we’re playing for memories. The most thrilling games for me are the ones that led to a championship, so all of us, the whole team, would have something to celebrate for the rest of our lives.
Football is really a pretty simple game. There’s a good offensive play for every defense. And there’s a good defense for every offensive play. So the key is how often can we call the right play against the right defense.
I’ve been blessed way beyond what any person deserves to be. I’m thankful every day.
Most of those cute or stupid things I said were in the off-season, during the spring and summer, when nothing was going on. We were winning and the Gator fans were happy and they wanted to hear something funny. But it’s a fact of life if a coach wins a lot of games and has a big year, he’s a little bit more talkative in the off-season. If he had a bad year, got his butt beat, he’s pretty quiet.
I tell people I was fortunate to play 10 years in the NFL and be a backup quarterback for eight of the 10, so I didn’t have to play much, so no concussions. I had a few little injuries here and there — I had four knee surgeries and a knee replacement in 2012 — but nothing too bad.
It was obvious early here at Florida, when we started winning right away, there were a few referees that I don’t think particularly wanted Florida to continue winning so much. So every now and again I’d have to yell and criticize the refs.
Gov. Scott, I think he does a super job. I don’t know what I’d tell him to do differently.
If your team played pretty well, and it just didn’t work out and you didn’t win the game, you can live with that one pretty well. But if somebody did something really stupid to lose a game, that hurts. I always blamed myself.
There’s so much money involved in college sports today — to the coaches and for a successful program — that a little bit of sportsmanship may be lacking.
Coaching wasn’t my entire life. It was my occupation.
Golf is still my hobby. I just don’t play as well as I used to. I’ve got arthritis, arthritis in my fingers, but that’s no excuse. I want to shoot my age. I haven’t done that yet, but I’ve got a chance. When I get to be 75 or 76, I ought to be able to shoot that.
If you know you’ve tried your best to be the best person you can be, then that’s a successful person. That’s all you can ask.
Get Florida Trend's October magazine – print or digital. Select from these options:
Select from the following options:
* offer valid for new subscribers only