Mike Ayers knows he has 200 victories as Wofford’s football head football coach because we all told him.
We talked about it after last season, when he was three wins away following a run to the FCS quarterfinals. We reminded him when he got to 199 two weeks ago at Mercer. We talked about it leading up to last Saturday’s game at home against Gardner-Webb, which the Terriers won, 27-24.
“I got a lot of congratulations,” Ayers said. “I had a lot of former players and parents of former players and other people calling and texting and all that stuff.”
Otherwise, Ayers said, his best guess would have been well short of factual.
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“I would have believed it if you told me it was 150,” he said. “I never look at that. It really doesn’t matter. There are a lot of memories that come with it, but has far as a goal or a milestone, did I ever say, ‘Gosh, I would like to win 200 games?’ Well, my answer to that would be, ‘I can’t do that. I finished my eligibility a long time ago.’ I wasn’t allowed to play 200 games (at Georgetown College in Kentucky), let alone get 200 wins.’
“I’m just a piece of the puzzle. I’ve been very blessed and very fortunate. Any accomplishment that has occurred for me in football is just because I’ve been fortunate enough to have my name on the door that says head coach. All the assistants, all the players, all the fans, all the administration, that’s how something like 200 wins comes about. When you think about it, that clears the picture. It’s about all of us.”
Ayers actually has 211 wins as a head coach, the first 11 coming in three seasons at East Tennessee State and the most significant of those being a remarkable 29-14 upset of North Carolina State, which had played in the Peach Bowl the previous season and was coming off a win against seventh-ranked Clemson.
We know he doesn’t like to talk about it, but Coach Ayers reached win #200 at Wofford on Saturday. Congrats Coach! pic.twitter.com/UKAYwBpf71
— Wofford Football (@Wofford_FB) September 25, 2017
He took over a struggling program at ETSU and went 0-10-1 in his first season there in 1985 after replacing Buddy Sasser, with whom he came from Wofford as an assistant. The Buccaneers, remarkably, had a winning record the next season.
Ayers came back to Wofford, hired by former athletics director Danny Morrison (future president of the Carolina Panthers), during a conversation over a couple of milkshakes at an Asheville, N.C, dairy bar that is no longer in existence. Ayers worked his magic again, turning a 1-10 Wofford team into 5-5, then a winning record, and then 18-6 in the following two years. The Terriers joined the Southern Conference in 1997 and two years later went 5-3 in the league.
Wofford went 6-2 in the SoCon in 2002, barely and controversially missing the Division I-AA playoffs, followed by a 12-2 campaign, undefeated in league play, in 2003 to reach the national semifinals.
The Terriers, ranked No.7 in the country, have won 13 of their last 17 games, making the quarterfinals again last season, with seven postseason appearances, six in the past decade.
“Success allows you an opportunity to hang around,” Ayers said. “If we had not had our share of success over the years, quite frankly, it would be a different story. I would be the same person, but then it would be a different Wofford football story.”
This article is written by Todd Shanesy from Spartanburg Herald-Journal and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.