Former longtime South Carolina State coach Willie Jeffries will be honored for his 2010 induction into the College Football Hall of fame during the Bulldogs’ Saturday game against Howard in Orangeburg, S.C.
The first African-American to be hired as a head coach at a Division I school at Wichita State, Jeffries also coached at Howard. Jeffries earned seven Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles, six with South Carolina State and one with Howard, and finished his career as the winningest coach in MEAC history.
A three-time black college national champion, Jeffries is credited with inventing the “freeze-option” offense — and was the only coach to face both Paul “Bear” Bryant and Eddie Robinson. He compiled an overall 179-132-6 record during his career, which started in 1973 and ended in 2001, and coached Harry Carson and Donnie Shell — who, like Bryant and Robinson, are also college football hall of famers.
“Coach Jeffries is a pioneer in every sense of the word,” said National Football Foundation president Steve Hatchell. “He opened doors for future generations, and he mentored countless young players who have gone on to be great leaders later in life. It is fitting that his contributions are forever preserved in the College Football Hall of Fame, and we look forward to celebrating with the Bulldog faithful in Orangeburg on Nov. 6.”
[TDR REWIND: Nick talks about his time covering new hall of famer Willie Jeffries.]
The NFF inducted Willie Jeffries into the College Football Hall of Fame on July 17 as a member of the 2010 divisional enshrinement class in South Bend, Ind.
“This is an honor for me, my former players, South Carolina State and all the schools I’ve coached.” Jeffries said at the time of the announcement of his induction. “This is about the top one a coach can receive.”
Named coach of the year on eight different occasions, he was given the lifetime achievement award by the Black Coaches Association in 2002. An inductee of the MEAC Hall of Fame, South Carolina State University Athletic Hall of Fame and the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, Jeffries was awarded the Order of the Palmetto (South Carolina’s top civilian honor) in 1998 and received the Order of the Silver Crescent (the state’s highest accolade for outstanding community service) in 2001.
Earlier this year, Jeffries was named head coach emeritus at South Carolina State and serves as a liaison between the university, its alumni and other constituents.
[Current coach Buddy Pough credits Willie Jeffries for South Carolina State’s lasting success.]
“Coach Jeffries is truly admired by so many,” said South Carolina State director of athletics Charlene Johnson, “not just for his achievements as head football coach at SC State but also for his humanitarian contributions to this community, this state and society. He has mentored many young men and used football and his great personal skills to bring about better community relations in Orangeburg, the Palmetto State and beyond. We are proud of the latest honor bestowed upon him.”
Jeffries is the third to be inducted into the Hall of Fame from South Carolina State, along with Carson (2002) and Shell (1998). He joins Douglas Porter (2008) as the only inductees from Howard, and Coach Marcelino Huerta (2002) and Jim Bausch (1954) as the only inductees from Wichita State.