Auburn Football Legend Pat Sullivan Steps Down as Samford Head Coach


Auburn football legend Pat Sullivan has announced he is stepping down as the head coach of the Samford Bulldogs.

“Effective today, I am transitioning out of my role as Head Coach of the Samford Bulldogs,” Sullivan said in a statement through the university. “I will immediately assume a position as President Westmoreland’s Special Advisor for Campus and Community Development.”

Sullivan’s last game was a 31-7 loss to the Tigers in Jordan-Hare Stadium, which is fitting since he was one of the greatest Auburn football players to put on a uniform. The 1971 Heisman Trophy winner also spent time as an assistant coach on the Plains, coaching quarterbacks under Pat Dye from 1986-91 after a career in the NFL.

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“This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly. 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.”

Sullivan breathed new life into the Samford football program eight years ago and has built them into a contender in the Southern Conference, and is the all-time winningest coach at the university with a record of 47-43.

The Bulldogs have had four straight winning seasons under his watch, and captured the league title and a playoff spot in 2013. It was the first conference title for the program since joining the league in 2008 and their first playoff berth since 1992.

Sullivan has a 71-85-1 career record as a head coach, which includes his 24-42-1 mark at TCU.

“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.

As a sign of Sullivan’s health issues, he often coached from the box this season, including last month’s game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“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.”

And he’ll never leave Auburn. You can see the quarterback’s statue outside Jordan-Hare, along with other Heisman winners Bo Jackson and Cam Newton.

“The search for my successor will start immediately. I will be actively involved in that process and will do all that I can to make sure Samford gets the best head coach possible – the right man and the right fit for this special place.”

It’s early to tell who Samford may turn to as their new head coach, and who may be interested in the job. Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, who held the same position under Sullivan at Samford not long ago, could be a potential candidate.

Sullivan touched many people during his playing and coaching careers. He’ll be missed, but he’s earned the right to enjoy his time with his family.

War Eagle!

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