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Jay Jacobs, Gus Malzahn praise retiring Pat Sullivan
Dec. 2, 2014


Pat Sullivan, left, and Gus Malzahn chat after Samford's visit to Jordan-Hare Stadium this season

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Jay Jacobs says Pat Sullivan served as a role model and inspiration, as a Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn and as someone who served as a coach and mentor to countless young men.

The Auburn athletics director and football coach Gus Malzahn each praised Sullivan on Tuesday, the day he announced he was stepping down as Samford's head coach to become a special advisor to that school's president. Sullivan said health issues played a part in his decision to give up his football duties.

Jacobs said Sullivan "has always been a role model and an inspiration to me just like he has for the entire Auburn family." 

"Pat has been a part of countless wins as a player and a coach, but he will be remembered for far more than his football success. I am most appreciative of the way he developed and mentored his players mentally, physically and spiritually. Showing them how to become good men was always more important to him than showing them how to become good players. That legacy will far outlast any accomplishments on the football field."

Sullivan won the first of three Auburn Heisman trophies, his coming in 1971. His last game as a coach came Nov. 22 when Auburn beat Samford 31-7 in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"There are few people with the class, character and integrity of Coach Pat Sullivan," Malzahn said. "I got to know Coach Sullivan when I was the offensive coordinator at Auburn and he was on the search committee responsible for hiring me as the head coach. I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for him, both as a coach and a person. I’m very thankful for the friendship that I have with Coach Sullivan and appreciate everything he has done for me. I wish him nothing but the best in the future."

Sullivan was Samford's coach for eight years as leaving as the school's all-time winningest coach. His 2013 won the Southern Conference championship. He was also the head coach at TCU and an assistant at Auburn and UAB.

Samford announced Sullivan will serve as special advisor to university president Dr. Andrew Westmoreland.
"This is not a decision I've taken lightly," Sullivan said in a statement. "A head coach never likes to think about stepping down, particularly me.  I've always been a competitor and that spirit never fades.  I love my job and I love this University.  I have loved working with Samford's young men, helping them grow as football players, as student-athletes and spiritually.  I am so thankful to each and every one of my players and their families for allowing me to be a part of their lives."

"The past couple of years have been difficult.  I've been dealing with health issues; more than I would have liked.  Our young men have never blinked. This coaching staff never blinked.  I am so proud of each and every member of the Samford football program.

"Coaching is a grind. Right now I need more balance in my life.  I need to pay more attention to my health and I want to spend more time with Jean, my children and grandchildren.  I owe that to them.  But I'm not done working and I'm not leaving Samford." 

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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