(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Joining forces as Coaches for the Panhandle, legendary coaches Steve Spurrier, Cliff Ellis, and Mickey Andrews on Thursday stood together with Florida State Representative Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee), Florida State Senator Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee), and former Florida State Representative Robert Trammell (D-Marianna) for a press conference at the Florida Capitol to implore members of the Florida Legislature to immediately support disaster relief efforts in Northwest Florida.
More than six months after the destructive Category 4 impact of Hurricane Michael, residents and businesses have yet to recover from the devastation, leaving Floridians unable to rebuild their communities and their lives.
Watch the entire Coaches for the Panhandle press conference HERE.
State Rep. Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee) said, “We are here to support the people of the Panhandle who desperately need our help. The devastation is indescribable.
“Governments, businesses, and schools are still shuttered. There is no housing to speak of. No jobs. People are losing homes. Imagine the toll this is taking on the kids as they see their parents worried about where their next meal is coming from or where they are going to live. Imagine the toll this is taking on these proud people that don’t want to ask for help. They need our help. That’s why it’s so important that we have this group of folks here lending their voice to our voices that are asking the Florida Legislature in the waning days of session to make sure that we get the help that is needed to our neighbors.”
State Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) said, “In Bay County alone, just in the school system, the number of children who have been Baker Acted has quadrupled. The number of children who are homeless has tripled. That’s just children. There’s a lady living in Liberty County living in half of a mobile home because the other half blew away. She says she’s proud. She said I don’t need a handout, but what I do need is water in the bathroom. She said, ‘I’ve got a bathroom, I just don’t have any water.’ That’s fifty miles from here. This is America, this is Florida, and we’re letting our people live in those conditions? We’re letting our children suffer. We’re letting our children live in tents. It’s wrong.
“I’m convinced that the Florida Legislature, before this session is over in two weeks, will respond from a budgetary standpoint. But quite frankly, the State of Florida, we don’t have enough money to do what needs to be done. That’s what the federal government is about, that’s what Congress is for – to put down these partisan arguments and do what is morally right.
“Let me make something real clear, the problem is in Washington. They won’t do their job and it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating when we know the conditions that people are living in and Washington can’t sit down and do their job. I feel for Congressman Lawson and Congressman Dunn because I know what they’re going through. They are on the same page. They are working together. Why can’t all of Congress do that?”
Former State Rep. Robert Trammell (D-Marianna) said, “It’s been a tradition in Florida that when there’s a natural disaster that the whole state pitches in and good gracious we have one over there and in an area where there’s not a tax base or the income or the jobs to very well regenerate the level of living that was there before.
“We need help big time from the federal government on this issue.”
Coach Steve Spurrier said, “There’s one thing Gators and Seminoles can agree on, it’s that we live in the greatest state in America – the state of Florida. This is the best place to live. I know I’m blessed and fortunate to call Gainesville and Crescent Beach and the state of Florida my home. Right now, we have a crisis in the Panhandle.”
“But to realize that there’s been no federal relief funds to that area yet and our state hasn’t passed a bill yet for relief for these people. That’s something we all need to do. We need to take care of our people in the greatest state in the union. Hopefully we can get a bill passed. I think the money is here to do it and to really help these people. I just wanted to come and ask the Senate and the House to really strongly consider and hopefully pass a bill to get these people help out there. That’s the least we can do. As a representative of the University of Florida, Mickey is representing FSU here, we all agree this is something we need to do together.
Coach Cliff Ellis said, “Folks, there are people living in tents. There are people that are actually living in their cars. There are jobs being lost. It’s going to dry up if we don’t do something about it. We as coaches, sometimes rally together. We may compete…but when it comes to something like this, we’re all in. What we want to encourage everybody to do is to do the right thing and we know that it will happen. But these people need help. Do not forget them and what they stand for.
“We have to put everything aside. I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat, or whether you’re a Seminole or a Gator. I don’t care. Nobody cares. Right now, it’s about us being together.
“This is my home and I don’t like what I see and we’re going to fight for the right thing. We’re going to do it the right way, but we want people to do the right thing. That’s all we’re asking people to do. Do the right thing. This is humanity. We’ve got to make a difference.”
Coach Mickey Andrews said, “It doesn’t matter whether you’re for Florida or Florida State, wherever your allegiance is, there are some things where those walls are knocked down. We got that same situation in our country right now.
“What we need to do as a country is unify. It’s almost unbelievable. It was such a tragedy when it happened six months ago. Folks, it’s still a tragedy.
“We’re still trying to get this thing solved and get an appropriation out of Washington and the federal government, but we have an obligation. The Bible tells us to help those that need help and it’s our job to do what we can do and be accountable to helping our fellow citizens. Keep praying about that. We need hearts to be changed to help people that are really hurting.”
SO YOU KNOW:
Florida State Rep. Loranne Ausley is a 6th-generation Floridian who has held senior positions in every level of government. She graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College majoring in Economics and Politics. She received her law degree from the Washington & Lee University. Loranne Ausley is an attorney AT Hollimon, P.A. in Tallahassee. She was instrumental in creating Whole Child Leon and she served as Chair for 8 years. She serves as National Honorary Co-Chair of the New Leaders’ Council and as a board member to the Claude Pepper Foundation. She is a founding member of The Oasis Center for Women and Girls and an active volunteer with the South City Multi-Sport Club and the Stacey Webb Arts Foundation. She has also served as a board member of other organizations including Florida Healthy Kids Corporation, Whole Child Leon, Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, The United Way of the Big Bend, The Tallahassee Urban League, Washington and Lee University Law Council, the George Washington Society, and various volunteer positions with Leadership Florida.
Florida State Sen. Bill Montford is the Minority Leader Pro Tempore and a native Floridian born in Marianna, Florida who has served in Florida Senate District 3 since 2010. A graduate of Florida State University, Senator Montford has dedicated his life to education, serving as a middle school teacher, high school principal, and Leon County Superintendent of Schools before becoming the chief executive officer for the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. Senator Montford has received numerous awards, honors, and recognitions for his work to advance educational opportunities for students in Northwest Florida and has served his community through organizations such as the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, Urban Superintendents Association of America, Healthy Florida Foundation, and Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida’s Graduates.
Former Florida State Rep. Robert Trammell, a retired attorney, served in the Florida House from 1987-1996 and was known as a champion for community colleges. Following his tenure in the legislature, for 13 years Trammell served Chipola as Special Assistant for Development and Alumni Affairs. In this role, he organized many successful fundraising events, including those honoring the memory of prominent Chipola alumni through the creation of endowed scholarships in the names of Rep. Sam Mitchell, Rep. David Coley, Chipola coach Milton Johnson, Gadsden County Sheriff W. A. Woodham and Attorney John Ratzlaff. For his service to the college, Trammell has been named the Chipola Alumnus of the Year for 2013. The 1966 Chipola graduate also has been nominated in the Hometown Hero category of the LeRoy Collins Distinguished Alumni Awards program sponsored by the Association of Florida Colleges.
Steve Spurrier, known affectionately to fans as the “Head Ball Coach” is a Florida native born in Miami Beach and best known for his Hall of Fame tenure as the Head Football Coach for the University of Florida (UF) Gators from 1990 – 2001. Coach Spurrier, who attended UF, played quarterback for the Gators from 1963-1966, winning the Heisman Trophy and being named as a first-team All-American during his senior year. Following his collegiate career, Coach Spurrier was drafted into the National Football League (NFL) by the San Francisco 49ers in 1967 where he played until being traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976. Coach Spurrier accepted his first head coaching position with the United States Football League Tampa Bay Bandits in 1983 and then coached at Duke from 1987 – 1989 before accepting the head coaching job at UF in 1990. While at UF, Coach Spurrier led the Gators to a national championship title in 1996, as well as six Southeastern Conference championship titles, and five bowl victories. After coaching at UF, Spurrier returned to the NFL to coach the Washington Redskins and then became the head coach of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks where he coached until his retirement in 2015. Coach Spurrier was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1986 and as a coach in 2017.
Cliff Ellis is a Florida native born in Marianna and currently the head basketball coach at Coastal Carolina University. Coach Ellis graduated from Florida State University (FSU) in 1968 and took his first head coaching position in 1972 at Cumberland University in Tennessee. After coaching at Cumberland, Coach Ellis was named head coach at the University of South Alabama where he coached for nine seasons, leading the Jaguars to two NCAA Tournament appearances and 171 total victories – becoming the all-time winningest coach in South Alabama history. In 1985, Ellis was named head coach at Clemson University where he led the Tigers to three NCAA Tournament appearances and an Atlantic Coast Conference championship title. Coach Ellis remains the winningest coach in Clemson history and was named ACC Coach of the Year in both 1987 and 1990. After 10 seasons at Clemson, Coach Ellis joined Auburn University as head coach in 1994. At Auburn, Coach Ellis led the Tigers to a Southeastern Conference championship title in 1999, three NCAA Tournament appearances, and Auburn’s three winningest season in 1998 – 1999, 1999 – 2000, and 2002 – 2003. In 2007, Coach Ellis was named to his current position of head coach at Coastal Carolina University. At Coastal Carolina, Coach Ellis has led the Chanticleers to three Big South conference championship titles, including the school’s first in 2009. Under the leadership of Coach Ellis, the Chanticleers have made two NIT Tournament and two NCAA Tournament appearances and amassed 230 wins over 12 seasons. Over his head coaching career, Coach Ellis has led teams to more 842 wins over 42 seasons and been named to the Clemson University, Cumberland Athletics and Mobile Sports Halls of Fame.
Mickey Andrews is an award-winning football coach who currently serves as special assistant to Florida State University (FSU) head football coach Willie Taggart. Coach Andrews attended the University of Alabama where he played wide receiver and defensive back for the Crimson Tide on two national championship winning teams in 1961 and 1964 and earned second-team All-American honors. He also earned the Hugo Friedman Award as Alabama’s best all-around athlete. Following his graduation from Alabama in 1964, Coach Andrews held several assistant coaching positions at Erwin High School in Alabama, Eastern Kentucky University, and Livingston University before being named as Livingston’s head football coach in 1970. In 1971, Coach Andrews led the Livingston Tigers to a NAIA Division I Championship to finish an 11-1 season. In 1973, Coach Andrews was named head coach of the North Alabama University Lions where he stayed until taking a position as defensive coordinator at Clemson University in 1977. After briefly working with the University of Florida, and the United State Football League Arizona Wrangler, Coach Andrews was hired by Coach Bobby Bowden as the Seminoles’ defensive coordinator. At FSU, Andrews is led the Seminole defense to produce more All-American and NFL quality cornerbacks than any other program in the country. Coach Andrews coached two Jim Thorpe Award winners, Deion Sanders and Terrell Buckley, and had an All-American cornerback on the FSU roster for eight consecutive years from 1987 – 1994. Coach Andrews retired from FSU following the 2009 season and rejoined the program in 2018.