Author stands by his book on the Ball Coach
Editor’s Note: This letter is in response to comments made in The State by USC coach Steve Spurrier that the biography “Spurrier: How the Ball Coach Taught the South to Play Football,” which was written by Ran Henry and published in November 2014 by Rowman and Littlefield, was "very untruthful, incorrect, stories in it were absolutely made up."
In March 2011, when your defending SEC Eastern Division Champion Gamecocks started spring ball, you officially authorized my definitive biography, lauding the many years I had spent with your friends and family members to get the story straight.
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Before the start of the 2014 football season I showed you the book. I addressed your stated concerns, including removing family photos given to me by your parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Graham Spurrier.
Your Dad lived through you, like we all live through our sports teams, and he pushed you hard – raising you to be an epic competitor.
Your father’s ministry, and his heroic effort to move your family from Cocke County, Tennessee, to Johnson City and give you the credit, I have reported with full access to official records of the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the archives at the Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, where you father studied to be a minister, and the records of the First Presbyterian Church of St. Albans, West Virginia, First Presbyterian Church of Miami Beach, Florida, Mars Hill Presbyterian Church in Athens, Tennessee, and Newport Presbyterian Church in Cocke County. All the historical documents on which Spurrier is based have been verified by genealogist Susan Olsen, Director of Historical Services at the Woodlawn Cemetery in New York.
Others supporting the book include my agent, Matthew Carnicelli of Carnicelli Literary Management in New York, my publisher, Rowman and Littlefield, the South Carolina Book Festival, which promoted me as a featured presenter in May, and the University of South Carolina Honors College – the nation's No. 1 Honors College, where I have taught the techniques and ethics of narrative nonfiction since January 2013.
Your family members and friends across the South shared with me their time and memories over 17 years, and provided the quotations that helped dramatize decisive moments in your life. My two main sources for the depiction of your father were your big brother Graham and your friend Cotty Jones, whose father owned the Johnson-City Press Chronicle (now the JC Press), helping me chronicle your incredible career as a three-sport star at Science Hill High School. Over the course of 17 years, I was privileged to meet and talk often with Graham and Cotty.
Your all-American football wife, Mrs. Jerri Spurrier, related to me the love story that made you two the first couple of Florida football, and the patriarch and matriarch of the Gamecocks.
We are all seeking redemption. You are the only one in a long list of sources found in my acknowledgments who claims the material in the book isn’t true.
I have not knowingly written anything false about you, Coach. I am blessed to be your biographer, despite the disagreement between us. I stand by my book, today and for all time.